Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/27/2001 01:37 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                      HB 101-CHARTER SCHOOLS                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN announced HB 101 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DYSON, sponsor of HB 101, said he  has worked on the                                                            
charter school issue for  four and half years. This bill extends the                                                            
contract  period for  charter  schools from  five to  ten years,  it                                                            
removes the geographical  limitations; it does away  with the sunset                                                            
date; it  allows the charter  schools to  use public buildings  that                                                            
may not  meet school safety  codes, but have  been agreed to  by the                                                            
local building  inspector and the superintendent (such  as churches,                                                            
public halls, and other  public spaces). It makes it very clear that                                                            
charter school  students are subject  the graduate competency  test.                                                            
HB  101  does  three  things  financially.  It  adds  staff  to  the                                                            
Department of Education  and Early Development to do a better job of                                                            
overseeing  the charter  schools  and helping  them;  it gives  them                                                            
start-up money,  and it reduces the  threshold from 200 to  150 that                                                            
the school needs in order  to not be counted with the largest school                                                            
in the  district.  It also  increases the  allowable  number in  the                                                            
state from  30 to 60. These schools  are all under the local  school                                                            
district and  can only be started  after a contractual agreement  is                                                            
reached with the  school district and under strict  supervision from                                                            
the local school district.                                                                                                      
SENATOR WILKEN  asked if  we are lowering  the safety standards  for                                                            
these schools, even though they are acceptable.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON answered  yes. He said that quite a few charter                                                            
schools have moved  into a business or a mall. Malls  don't have the                                                            
same safety  standards as  schools, but they  certainly meet  public                                                            
safety standards.  He cited an example  of one charter school  at an                                                            
airport  where the  students are  learning aircraft  technology  and                                                            
graduating with a pilot's license as AMPs.                                                                                      
SENATOR DAVIS  said she was  glad to see  this bill and appreciates                                                             
all the work that has been done on it.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON responded  that due to Senator Green's efforts,                                                            
the Mat-Su  school district supplies  about $1,000 more per  charter                                                            
school student than most other districts.                                                                                       
TAPE 01-39, SIDE B                                                                                                            
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN explained  a proposed amendment on page 3, line 23,                                                            
to the charter school grant  program language saying, "If the amount                                                            
appropriated  in a fiscal year is  insufficient to meet the  amounts                                                            
authorized  under (a) of this section,  the department shall  reduce                                                            
pro rata each pupil's grant  by the necessary percentages determined                                                            
by the  partner."  The amendment  would  say, "If  a charter  school                                                            
grant  is reduced  under this  subsection,  the charter  school  may                                                            
apply to the department  in a subsequent fiscal year for the balance                                                            
of the grant."                                                                                                                  
SENATOR DAVIS moved amendment 1.                                                                                                
SENATOR  LEMAN explained  he  did not have  a problem  with  charter                                                            
schools applying as long  as it's understood that it's not mandatory                                                            
that they will  receive that grant, which would still  be subject to                                                            
legislative appropriation.                                                                                                      
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN  announced   that  there  were  no  objections  to                                                            
amendment #1 and it was adopted.                                                                                                
SENATOR  DAVIS moved  to pass SCS  CSHB 101(HES)  with the  attached                                                            
fiscal  note   with  individual  recommendations.   There   were  no                                                            
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               

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