- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The House Education Committee amended Gov. Sean Parnell’s omnibus education bill Friday over complaints with the pace with which the process was moving.

Rep. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, said she had a problem with how fast amendments were being adopted. She noted that two committee members were absent and the amendments did not have information on their fiscal impacts.

“I was told this was going to be a round-table discussion with conceptual amendments,” she said. “I was going to offer some amendments of my own.”

Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, said amendments do not need fiscal notes.

Chairwoman Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, told Reinbold they were at the halfway point of the legislative session and have been discussing sections of the governor’s bill for a number of meetings.

The committee broke HB278 into 10 sections as a means of working on it. Four sections were worked on during Friday’s meeting.

Gattis proposed setting aside the first section concerning the governor’s request to raise the per-pupil funding formula known as the base student allocation. Gattis said that was a matter for House Finance to discuss.

The committee heard nine amendments over the four sections worked on. The majority of the amendments were taken from Gattis‘ education bill. They included tightening language in Parnell’s bill with regards to eliminating the high school graduation examination, course credits earned through mastery of course content, college and career readiness assessment, reporting data from schools to the Alaska Department of Secondary and Early Childhood Development, and increasing the stipends for boarding schools.

The committee left June 30, 2015, as the last date for those holding letters of achievement to take the high school exit exam. Those who receive letters of achievement meet school requirements but do not qualify for a diploma because they have failed or not taken the exit exam.

It adopted an amendment by Rep. Sam Kito III, D-Juneau, adding the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery to the list of career test options high school students may take instead of the exit exam. Parnell, in his bill, proposed that students take the ACT, SAT or WorkKeys skills assessment. It calls for the state to pay administrative costs for either the WorkKeys test or a college assessment test.

The committee rejected an amendment by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, to have the state finance the administration of the WorkKeys test and one additional test such as the ACT. It also rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, for financing the administration of the WorkKeys test alone.

The committee became lost in its own paperwork for about 20 minutes unable to unravel itself from the proposed amendment.

Gattis said House leadership was putting pressure on her to move the bill from committee. She said the committee will begin holding evening sessions as well on the bill next week.

House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, told reporters Thursday he expected the education bill to be out of the committee by the middle of next week.

He sat in on part of the committee meeting Friday.

___

Online:

HB278: https://bit.ly/1eaPI4E


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