House Finance hears governor's education bill
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ The House Finance Committee took up Gov. Sean Parnell’s omnibus education bill Monday and one of the major components of House Bill 278 is the per-pupil allocation level, which was not taken up by the Education Committee.
Chairman Bill Stoltze of Chugiak said public testimony will be taken during Tuesday’s evening session.
“We are going to be taking a long look at this bill for most of the week,’’ Stoltze said. “And Tuesday evening we will begin hearing public testimony on it and we will stay here until we have heard from everyone on the list.’’
Parnell has placed a rise in the per-pupil allocation of $85 the first year and $58 for the next two consecutive years. The current per-pupil allocation rate is $5,680.
Many school districts have said the per-pupil allocation needs to be much higher in order to avoid new teacher
layoffs and staff cuts. Per-pupil allocation has been flat for the last three years of Parnell’s term in office.
Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, who chairs the education
committee, told House Finance Committee members her panel left the thorny issue to them.
Besides per-pupil allocation, questions over the transportation of charter school students and the appeals process created by the bill in approving charter schools were also raised.
“I can tell you right now much our committee’s time was devoted to the charter school section of the bill,’’ Gattis told House Finance members, noting some 24 amendments had been considered the House Education panel.
Education Commissioner Mike Hanley warned the
committee that as amended by the Education Committee, House Bill 278 may cause the State Board of Education to create new school districts in the charter schools appeal process. The potential new districts might be made up of charter schools that local
districts did not approve.
“For the State Board to become an authorizer is the equivalent of a new school district so it would have a significant fiscal note,’’ Hanley said. He did not give a monetary figure for the financial impact to the state for the creation of new school districts.
Hanley sparred with House Finance members on whether the bill incorporated elements of Common Core and the method the governor’s bill was put together.
“Why were these things chosen to be put in the bill over other items that have been in discussion?’’ asked Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. “What data did you collect that caused you to choose these items?’’
Hanley said there was nothing in the governor’s bill that is a new program. The thrust of the bill was to remove barriers that were causing current programs not to work.
“Clearly there is no data around removing some of these barriers, but they make common sense,’’ Hanley said.
The bill remains in committee.