(Juneau) - The Alaska House of Representatives today passed House Bill 273, legislation that updates five major funding areas of concern which were identified by the Joint Legislative Education Funding Task Force's final report. The bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage), the task force's chairman, effectively adds more than $245,620,000 total over the next five years to pupil transportation, intensive needs students, district cost factors and the base student allocation.
We have stricken a balance in the package which passed today. While neither side of the debate on education funding got exactly what they wanted, we made a concerted effort to effectively address some of the largest funding items that can eat away at school districts' budgets.
~ Rep. Mike Hawker
"I am pleased that my fellow members in the house have acted to support the task force recommendations," said Rep. Hawker. "This is the product of what I believe has truly been the most open and inclusive process the Legislature has undertaken. We have stricken a balance in the package which passed today. While neither side of the debate on education funding got exactly what they wanted, we made a concerted effort to effectively address some of the largest funding items that can eat away at school districts' budgets."
The bill addresses the following categories:
Pupil transportation: Recalibrates the funding for pupil transportation based on the most recent audits by the Department of Education & Early Development. Amounts will be adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, for Anchorage. The adjustment will sunset in 2011.
Declining enrollment: A New statute that provides for a step-down for declining enrollment over the three years. If the Average Daily Membership, which is the average daily full-time student equivalent, decreases by five percent or more from the previous year's ADM, the district can add 75 percent of the difference in the first year, 50 percent in the second year and 25 percent in the third year.
Intensive Needs Students: Currently, school districts receive five times the base student allocation for each intensive needs student. The bill increases that amount to nine times the BSA in FY09, 11 times the BSA in FY10 and 13 times the BSA in FY11. District Cost Factors: The bill will phase in 50-percent of the Institute of Social & Economic Research report's recommendation for cost factors in FY09, with the remaining 50 percent implemented over the next four years. District Cost Factors are the adjustments based on the dollar value needed to provide an Anchorage-area level of service.
Base Student Allocation: The bill will increase the BSA, which is currently $5,380 per student, by $100 per year from FY08 levels for the next three fiscal years, from $5,480 in FY08 to $5,680 in FY10.
In addition to the recommendations carried out in HB 273, the Legislature is also deliberating more recommendations from the task force report in the following bills:
HB 274 - University report on teacher preparation, retention and recruitment by the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska
HCR 13 - Establishing an Education Funding District Cost Factor Commission
HCR 14 - Establishing the House Education standing committee
HJR 29 - A resolution urging the President and U.S. Congress to fulfill federal obligations to provide adequate funding for special education in public schools
HB 273 will be transmitted to the Senate for consideration.