Governor Palin Signs House and Senate Bills
Governor Sarah Palin today signed two bills into law that will provide a grace period for charter schools experiencing decreased enrollment and authorize the state to enroll in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.
"It is so important Alaska's parents have opportunities to choose what's best for their children's education," Governor Palin said. "I appreciate the hard work of all the legislators who spearheaded these bills from introduction to final passage."
Senate Bill 57, sponsored by Senator Joe Thomas, provides a one-year grace period for charter schools and alternative schools experiencing a decline in enrollment that would make them ineligible for "separate school" status. The legislation also lowers the separate-school threshold for alternative schools from 200 to 175.
Separate schools are funded at a higher level, over $500,000, to accommodate the additional expenses involved. A charter school that had enrollment drop below 150 students, or an alternative school with an enrollment decrease to below 175 students, would receive 95 percent of the funding formula provided to a separate school for one year. This would allow that school an opportunity to make arrangements to increase enrollment, integrate with another school or close.
Charter schools are public schools open to all children, free of charge. They must comply with state laws governing public schools, and they employ state-certified teachers. Charter schools are managed by a parent-elected board of directors that determines the school's curriculum and teaching methods, within the guidelines of state statutes. Governor Palin signed SB 57 at Academy Charter School in Palmer.
House Bill 137, sponsored by Representative John Coghill, allows Alaska to join other states in an interstate compact intended to develop uniform rules that provide for the educational needs of military dependents. The compact eases enrollment, portability and acceptance of school transcripts and other education records, student class placement, and on-time graduation, and allows collaborative information-sharing among state educational systems. Governor Palin signed HB 137 at Aurora Elementary School on Elmendorf Air Force Base.