Thursday, June 08, 2006

Boarding School Bill is Signed Into Law

Governor Murkowski signed HB 16 into law June 3rd in Nenana. In the above picture Governor Murkowski is joined at the signing ceremony by Nenana Dean of Students, Ralph Lindquist; Jim Smith, Galena Superitendent; and Rob Thomason, superintendent of Neana School District. I have sponsored this legislation for several years and finally, with the assistance of Senator Wilken and the Deaprtment of Education successfully got HB 16 through the legislative process this session. It establishes a stipend program for statewide secondary residential programs based on five regional rates. This legislation does not attempt to create new programs; it only supports existing programs that are successful and expands the qualifications for stipends. The change would be that a student would not have to pass the current standard for qualification. That standard is that the student cannot have 9-12 available to them and they don’t have to leave the school district. The bill would give students a choice of going to a larger school that has more to offer than what is available in their hometown.

This legislation by statute reimburses to full school year statewide secondary residential programs costs incurred by the district operating the program. Statewide secondary residential programs that would qualify for reimbursement for a per-pupil stipend and one round trip between the student’s community of residence and the school during the school year if the district expends money for the trip.

New regulations proposed by the Department of Education allow other school districts to apply to establish a secondary residential program and regulate the schools. Boarding school programs are currently operating in Nenana, Galena, and Bethel.

Photo credit: Chris Wyatt, Governor Murkowski's Office.