Alaska House Bill 145, proposed voucher legislation

posted Feb 10, 2012, 2:48 AM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Feb 10, 2012, 6:24 PM ]

This bill takes many elements from the ALEC model here.  Some specific examples of language are identified below.

 HOUSE BILL NO. 145                                                                          
01 "An Act establishing the parental choice scholarship program to be administered by                                      
02 school districts for the purpose of paying the cost of attending grades kindergarten                                    
03 through 12 at public and private schools; and providing for an effective date."                                         
04 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
05    * Section 1. AS 14 is amended by adding a new chapter to read:                                                     
06                Chapter 31. Parental Choice Scholarship Program.                                                       
07            Sec. 14.31.010. Parental choice scholarship program established. The                                       
08       parental choice scholarship program is established for the purpose of providing public                            
09       funding of the cost of attending grades kindergarten through 12 at a public or private                            
10       school selected by the student's parent or legal guardian. Each school district shall                             
11       administer the program under the provisions of this chapter.                                                      
12            Sec. 14.31.020. Scholarship amount and eligibility. (a) A public school in                                 
13       the state may receive a scholarship under the parental choice scholarship program on                              
14       behalf of a student who attends the school, regardless of the attendance area in the                              
01       school district in which the student resides.                                                                     
02            (b)  A private school qualifies to receive funding under the parental choice                                 
03       scholarship program if the school                                                                                 
04                 (1)  submits an application to the district in which the school is located                              
05       on a form approved by the district indicating that the school intends to participate in                           
06       the program;                                                                                                      
07                 (2)  meets the accountability and enrollment standards under                                            
08       AS 14.31.025; and                                                                                                 
09                 (3)  complies with AS 14.45.030 or 14.45.110 - 14.45.130 and                                            
10       academic accountability standards that include nondiscriminatory practices and                                    
11       regular reports to each student's parent or legal guardian on the student's progress.                             
12            (c)  Notwithstanding the calculations required under AS 14.17, the district shall                            
13       pay to a qualified school attended by the student under this section a parental choice                            
14       scholarship that is equal to the lesser of    [compare this language to the ALEC model here                                                                   
15                 (1)  the amount the school district in which the student resides would                                  
16       receive under AS 14.17 for a similarly situated student to attend a public school in the                          
17       district, except that the amount may not exceed 100 percent of the funding the school                             
18       receives and expends from all state and local sources for the student; or                                         
19                 (2)  the actual annual cost to the school of educating the student,                                     
20       including prorated facility and operating expenses.                                                               
21            (d)  If a parent or legal guardian has selected a public school outside of the                               
22       attendance area in which the student resides for a scholarship under this section, the                            
23       school district in which the student resides may contribute to the reasonable costs of                            
24       transporting the student to the scholarship recipient school the state aid available under                        
25       AS 14.09.010 for transportation of the student.                                                                   
26            (e)  A scholarship received for the benefit of a student under this section must                             
27       be used for educational purposes. A scholarship is transferable among participating                               
28       schools.  [ALEC section 3(D) here]                                                                                                         
29            (f)  A participating school shall include students who are enrolled under this                               
30       section in the student count for purposes of calculating state aid under AS 14.17.610.                            
31            Sec. 14.31.025. Accountability and enrollment standards for a                                              
01       participating school. (a) A district shall approve a school for participation in the                            
02       parental choice scholarship program if the school                                                                 
03                 (1)  operates in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws                                  
04       pertaining to health and safety;                                                                                  
05                 (2)  does not discriminate in its admission and hiring practices as                                     
06       prohibited under AS 14.18.010 - 14.18.100;                                                                        
07                 (3)  admits students based on a random selection process, except that                                   
08       the school may apply a preference for siblings;                                                                   
09                 (4)  requires criminal history background checks as provided under                                      
10       AS 12.62.400 for all individuals who are employed in or otherwise work in the school;                             
11                 (5)  if a private school, meets the following financial accountability                                  
12       standards:                                                                                                        
13                      (A)  submits to the district an annual financial report that                                       
14            complies with uniform financial accounting standards approved by the district;           
15                      (B)  submits to the district an annual auditor's report that the                                   
16            financial report provided under (A) of this paragraph is                                                     
17                           (i)  free of material misstatements;                                                          
18                           (ii)  fairly represents the actual annual per pupil costs                                     
19                 claimed under the program; and                                                                          
20                           (iii)  limited to records considered necessary to provide                                     
21                 the report;                                                                                             
22                      (C)  demonstrates the school's financial ability to repay to the                                  
23            district any overpaid scholarship funds.                                                                     
24            (b)  A participating school is autonomous and may not be subject to additional                  
25       regulation by the state unless authorized under AS 14.31.010 - 14.31.090.  [ALEC section 4.D here]                                       
26            Sec. 14.31.035. District duties. (a) In implementing the parental choice                                   
27       scholarship program, the district shall                                                                           
28                 (1)  make scholarship payments directly to the school quarterly after                               
29       receiving proof satisfactory to the district that the student claimed under a scholarship         
30       attends the school on a full-time basis;                                                                          
31                 (2)  make available to students and students' parents or guardians a list                       
01       of schools that have been approved to participate in the program; and                                      
02                 (3)  provide a standard application for use by a school to enroll a                                     
03       student under the program; a school may, however, supplement the application.                                     
04            (b)  If the district denies an application or revokes approval of a school to                                
05       participate in the program, the district shall, after administrative and judicial appeal                          
06       periods have lapsed, immediately notify the affected students and the students' parents                           
07       or guardians.                                                                                                   
08            Sec. 14.31.040. Regulations. The department shall adopt regulations necessary                              
09       to carry out the program, including                                                                               
10                 (1)  timelines that will result in the highest number of student and                                    
11       school participation;                                                                                             
12                 (2)  procedures for calculating for and distributing scholarships;                                      
13                 (3)  procedures for application, renewal, and appeal for participating                                  
14       schools and students; and                                                                                         
15                 (4)  standards for approval, revocation, and denial for participating                                   
16       schools.                                                                                                          
17            Sec. 14.31.045. Appropriations for scholarships. The legislature may                                       
18       appropriate parental choice scholarship program funds to the department for                                       
19       distribution to the districts. If the appropriation for the program is insufficient in a                          
20       given fiscal year, the department shall distribute the available funds to the districts                           
21       prorated by the number of participating students in the program.                                                  
22            Sec. 14.31.090. Definitions. In this chapter,                                                              
23                 (1)  "district" has the meaning given in AS 14.17.990;                                                  
24                 (2)  "private school" means a school located in the state that provides                                 
25       education to students attending grades kindergarten through 12, or any combination of                             
26       those grades, and that does not receive direct state, local, or federal funding, except                           
27       parental choice scholarship funding;                                                                              
28                 (3)  "program" means the parent choice scholarship program;                                             
29                 (4)  "student" means a person residing in the state who is at least five                                
30       years of age but not more than 21 years of age.                                                                   
31    * Sec. 2. This Act takes effect July 1, 2012.