House tries to force Senate to consider school funding bill

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state House on Saturday took action to force the Senate to consider a school funding bill that's aimed at easing urban-rural tensions.

The House attached the funding measure to a bill that has already passed the Senate. Doing so will force the Senate to vote on whether to accept the measure.

The school funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Williams, R-Ketchikan, would prevent 22 school districts from losing state supplemental funding until the results of a new study are in.

That study, which is supposed to be finished in November, is intended to give a more accurate picture of what it costs to educate students in different parts of the state.

Williams' bill changes a provision of the school funding formula adopted by the 1998 Legislature. That formula called for some districts to receive more money per student, while other districts were set to lose money.

Representatives of some rural parts of the state have complained bitterly that the formula hurt their districts.

Those who supported the new formula said the rural districts had been receiving too much money and the new formula is gradually fixing that inequity.

Williams' bill would stop the rural districts affected from losing any more state help until the new study is complete. The one-year change would cost the state about $1 million.

His bill has been stalled in the Senate Health Education and Social Services Committee.

The House attached the measure to Senate Bill 345. That's a bill sponsored by the Senate HESS committee that would allow school districts to bill Medicaid for some health services provided to special education students. That bill has already passed the Senate unanimously.

The House also attached two other unrelated education bills to Senate Bill 345. One measure, House Bill 408, deals with school districts' ability to survey students about health-related behaviors and the other, House Bill 464, deals with state correspondence school regulations.

Both are also waiting action in the Senate HESS committee, which is headed by Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla.

Adding the three bills to Senate Bill 345 would have the effect of bypassing the Senate HESS committee.

If the Senate does not agree to the addition of the bills, the matter probably would go to a House-Senate conference committee to be resolved.

Williams' school funding bill is House Bill 312.

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