The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 413
Youth Academy Funding/Report
“An Act relating to the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy.”
Posted: March 15, 2010 : v26-LS1578\A
Status: (H) FIN : 2010-03-15
HB 413 restructures the funding mechanism for the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy to more accurately reflect the needs of the Academy.
The Alaska Challenge Youth Academy is a residential high school for students who have dropped out of regular school. The Academy is highly successful with a 70% graduation rate and works closely with the National Guard following a strict model that gives students structure, challenge, and discipline. The Academy is located in Anchorage and has two sessions a year where students live on campus for 5 months while going through the rigorous program. After they graduate from the program, staff continues to track their behavior through a mentorship program. Students are considered a success if a year after graduation they are enrolled in a postsecondary program, the military, or in full time employment.
Funding for the Academy is based the following formula: 7 times the Base Student Allocation (BSA) times all residential students plus .6 times the BSA times all non-residential students. When this formula was constructed in 2002 it reflected the dollars they needed to operate. However, as the BSA has grown over the years to cover retirement costs and other increases in education this has resulted in a windfall and is no longer reflective of the true cost of the program.
HB 413 would set a per child amount for state dollars in statute, $11,990 and multiply that by the number of residential and non-residential students enrolled. The Academy and the Department of Education and Early Development both agree this would give them sufficient dollars to run the program. Under HB 413 the projected total state dollars they would receive in fiscal year 2011 would be approximately $5.2 million, within $300 of the amount they would get under the current formula. Alaska Military Youth Academy also receives separate federal funds that supplement this amount ($2.7 million for FY2011).
The Academy is a valuable alternative that requires higher funding as a residential program for at-risk youth than other boarding schools. HB 413 identifies an appropriate and transparent way to fund this important educational institution.