- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The House Education Committee moved a bill Monday on gathering educational data on military family students for use by deployment families coming to the state.

The bill would simply add one more box for students to check when they enroll for the school year.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, requires the Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to work with local school districts in gathering data on the educational performance of students of military families.

The data will be used in creating an online subgroup that deploying families to Alaska may use in determining which school districts they want their children to attend.

Mark San Souci, liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense, pointed out to the committee that in 2013 the Defense Department awarded $1.5 million to the Alaska State Department of Education and Early Development and $48,000 to the Delta Greely School District.

The U.S. Defense Department singled the Delta Greely School District out in receiving funds from its Impact Aid Program because students from military families make up 43 percent of the student population.

“Without this data, we are pretty well blind where kids are and how they’re doing,” San Souci told the committee.

He related how a U.S. naval admiral in San Diego was told by the local school board that military students were absent more than regular students. The admiral was determined to address the issue until he discovered he did not have data enabling him to pinpoint where the problem was.

“We’re trying to make data driven decisions,” San Souci said.

He said the U.S. Defense Department will be using such data also as a means of distributing more impact aid to Alaskan communities. The U.S. Defense Department has budgeted $25 million for local impact aid to schools nationally.

Alaska has 17 school districts currently with a combined total of 11,336 students from military families.

School districts with five or less students from military families will be exempt from reporting.

“I guess I am uncomfortable that this subgroup reporting will be required by statute,” said Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer.

The bill would result in Alaska being one of seven states collecting student data for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The price tag for the state would be $80,000 for starting the effort and $10,000 per year afterward, according to the fiscal note.

The bill moved to the House Finance Committee.



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