Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/28/2001 10:10 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 149-TEACHER INCENTIVES                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion of HB 242]                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0052                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
CS FOR SPONSOR  SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO.  149(HES), "An Act                                                               
relating to reemployment of retired  teachers, to eligibility for                                                               
major  medical  insurance  coverage   for  beneficiaries  of  the                                                               
teachers'  retirement system,  and to  teacher certificates;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LOREN LEMAN,  Alaska State  Legislature,  came forth  as                                                               
sponsor of SB 149.  He  stated that [the committee] will probably                                                               
hear testimony  about the challenges  that school  districts have                                                               
had this  year in filling "slots"  for teachers.  This  bill will                                                               
make it easier to rehire  retired teachers and provide incentives                                                               
that,  he   believes,  will  increase   the  pool   of  available                                                               
applicants.  He stated that  this started out as legislation that                                                               
reached farther and provided more  incentives; however, to reduce                                                               
the  fiscal note  and increase  the chances  of passage,  some of                                                               
those provisions  were "stripped"  out.   He explained  the three                                                               
remaining provisions:  one is  the simpler recognition of out-of-                                                               
state  credentials, the  second  is an  incentive  for a  retired                                                               
teacher  to  return to  employment,  and  the third  is  improved                                                               
medical coverage.  He noted  that this received strong support in                                                               
the Senate.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked  what has been the main criticism  of the bill,                                                               
and who has opposed it.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN responded  that there has been no  criticism of the                                                               
bill other than by some people  who have said they would like the                                                               
bill to reach some of the areas that were initially included.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  stated that  he  understands  there is  a  somewhat                                                               
similar bill - HB 242.   He asked Senator Leman if he anticipates                                                               
that there will be a compromise between these bills.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN remarked  that he is not familiar with  HB 242.  He                                                               
said he has been told there is some overlap.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0315                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE asked  Senator  Leman if  he  has seen  the                                                               
amendment [the committee is proposing].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN answered that he is  aware of the amendment and has                                                               
no objection to it.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BRUCE JOHNSON,  Deputy Commissioner  of Education, Office  of the                                                               
Commissioner,  Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development                                                               
(EED), came forth  and stated that the EED  supports this concept                                                               
and  thinks  it  will  add  to  the  tools  allowing  for  school                                                               
districts  to   have  the  best-qualified  people   in  front  of                                                               
[Alaska's] children.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  asked Mr. Johnson  [how he feels  about the                                                               
amendment].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOHNSON  responded that  he had  just received  the amendment                                                               
and  believes  that this  is  attempting  to provide  a  one-year                                                               
certificate to individuals who have  held a certificate in Alaska                                                               
at one point in time, but have allowed it to lapse.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  asked Mr.  Johnson  if  he  sees  that as  being  a                                                               
problem.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOHNSON answered  no, that it appears to him  that the person                                                               
would have to  meet all the current requirements  within that one                                                               
year, and would be fingerprinted ahead of time.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0428                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GUY  BELL,   Directory,  Division   of  Retirement   &  Benefits,                                                               
Department of  Administration, came forth  in support of  SB 149.                                                               
He stated that  [the Division of Retirement &  Benefits] does not                                                               
foresee any  administrative problems.   He noted that there  is a                                                               
small  fiscal  note that  would  address  education, ensure  that                                                               
people know  the choices being  offered on their  "retiree return                                                               
piece," and develop some educational materials.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON asked  Mr.  Bell if  he sees  any  problem with  the                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL responded  that [the Division of  Retirement & Benefits]                                                               
is not  involved with  the issue  associated with  the amendment.                                                               
He added that  HB 242 has equivalent sections to  SB 149 relating                                                               
to  teachers'  retirement.    House   Bill  242  includes  public                                                               
employees  as  well.    He  stated  that  there  are  very  small                                                               
differences between  the teacher provisions  in SB 149 and  in HB
242.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0600                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  made a  motion to  adopt Amendment  1, 22-                                                               
LS0769\T.1, Cramer, 4/27/01, which read:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 14:                                                                                                           
             Delete "a new section"                                                                                             
             Insert "new sections"                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, following line 3:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new section to read:                                                                                         
               "Sec.   14.20.017.       Grace   period   for                                                                  
          issuance of regular teacher certificates to                                                                         
          previously certificated teachers.  (a)  The                                                                         
          department shall issue a teacher certificate                                                                          
          as   described   in   AS 14.20.020,   subject   to                                                                    
          revocation,   to   a   teacher   who   meets   the                                                                    
          requirements of this section.  To be eligible                                                                         
          for a revocable teacher certificate under this                                                                        
          section, a person shall                                                                                               
                    (1)  have held a valid teacher                                                                              
          certificate   issued   under   AS 14.20.020   that                                                                    
          expired more than 12 months before the teacher                                                                        
          applied for a certificate under this section;                                                                         
                    (2)  have paid the fee required by the                                                                      
          department under AS 14.20.020(c).                                                                                     
               (b)  A revocable teacher certificate issued                                                                      
          under this section is valid for one year, during                                                                      
          which the teacher shall complete any requirements                                                                     
          for the issuance of a regular teacher certificate                                                                     
          under AS 14.20.020 that the teacher has not                                                                           
          already met.  The department shall expedite the                                                                       
          procedures required of teachers holding revocable                                                                     
          teacher     certificates    who     are    seeking                                                                    
          certification under AS 14.20.020.                                                                                     
               (c)  A teacher holding a revocable teacher                                                                       
          certificate under this section who previously                                                                         
          passed the competency examination designated by                                                                       
          the board under AS 14.20.020(i) is not required                                                                       
          to retake the examination before being eligible                                                                       
          for a regular certificate under AS 14.20.020.  A                                                                      
          teacher holding a revocable teacher certificate                                                                       
          who did not previously take or pass the                                                                               
          competency examination shall take and pass the                                                                        
          examination within one year after the date the                                                                        
          revocable teacher certificate was issued.  If the                                                                     
          teacher does not pass the examination, the                                                                            
          department shall immediately revoke the revocable                                                                     
          teacher certificate.                                                                                                  
               (d)  A teacher holding a revocable teacher                                                                       
          certificate under this section may not receive a                                                                      
          teacher certificate issued under AS 14.20.020                                                                         
          until the teacher submits fingerprints to the                                                                         
          department to be used for a criminal history                                                                          
          background check and the teacher has been found                                                                       
          by the department to be suitable for employment                                                                       
          as a teacher under AS 14.20.020(f).                                                                                   
               (e)   The   revocable   teacher   certificate                                                                    
          issued under this section must contain the same                                                                       
          endorsements as those on the teacher's expired                                                                        
          teacher certificate.                                                                                                  
               (f)  Employment on the basis of a revocable                                                                      
          teacher certificate issued under this section                                                                         
          shall be considered in determining whether a                                                                          
          teacher qualifies for tenure under AS 14.20.150.                                                                      
               (g)  A revocable teacher certificate and any                                                                     
          endorsements issued under this section are valid                                                                      
          for one year and may not be renewed under this                                                                        
          section.  The department may not issue a                                                                              
          provisional    certificate    or    a    temporary                                                                    
          certificate to a teacher who has held a teacher                                                                       
          certificate issued under this section."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON explained that Amendment 1 addresses the                                                                  
fact that there are teachers who may have let their                                                                             
certification lapsed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS asked if this bill primarily discusses                                                                   
retired teachers, or if it includes other [employees].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CYNTHIA  MARTIN, Staff  to  Representative  Peggy Wilson,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,   came  forth   and  replied  that   if  (the                                                               
Department of Education and Early  Development) would entertain a                                                               
larger discussion, it could pertain to administrators as well.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number -742                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MELISSA HILL testified  via teleconference.  She  stated that she                                                               
has gathered some  comments from some of the  school districts at                                                               
the  job fair  [in Anchorage].   She  read the  following to  the                                                               
committee:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Rich  Carlson,  assistant superintendent,  Lower  Yukon                                                                    
     [School  District]:   "The situation  is  that at  this                                                                    
     point any  ... chance that  we can get  the legislature                                                                    
     to pass  what ... would benefit  education would assist                                                                    
     us.   The situation has  passed a nervous state  and is                                                                    
     critical, and it can only  get worse.  School districts                                                                    
     should  be determining  who is  qualified, and  not the                                                                    
     certification office.   These roadblocks  are hindering                                                                    
     us from certifying qualified teachers,  and it does not                                                                    
     benefit our children."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Kim  Langton,  Superintendent,  Iditarod  [Area  School                                                                    
     District]:  "This is drastically  worse than last year.                                                                    
     I met  with a woman who  had 29 years of  experience in                                                                    
     special  education  and  would make  [$]8,000  more  in                                                                    
     Texas."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Gary Baldwin  (ph), Lower Kuskokwim  [School District]:                                                                    
     "We need to  be recognizing out-of-state certification.                                                                    
     We spend  more money and  time at the beginning  of the                                                                    
     year trying to get  good people emergency certificates;                                                                    
     some work  as substitutes for  up to three  months with                                                                    
     no   benefits  only   to  qualify   for  an   emergency                                                                    
     certificate."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Gary  Lindman  (ph),  Personnel Director,  North  Slope                                                                    
     [Borough School  District]:   "Because of  the national                                                                    
     (indisc.)  it  is critical  that  Alaska  allows us  to                                                                    
     build  an incentive  that  would allow  us  to be  more                                                                    
     competitive with the  Lower 48. ... We  still are going                                                                    
     to have to address the  issue of salary to compete with                                                                    
     the Lower 48."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Todd   Syverson,    Assistant   Superintendent,   Kenai                                                                    
     [Peninsula  Borough School  District]:   "Last year  we                                                                    
        had 75 teachers fill in teaching waivers without                                                                        
         benefits in the process of receiving (indisc.)                                                                         
     certification."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked Ms. Hill if she has any negative comments.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HILL  stated, "We  are in favor  of SB 149.  ... I  think the                                                               
message coming  from the people  I am  working with is  that this                                                               
needs to go as soon as possible."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked Ms. Hill whom she represents.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HILL answered that she  represents the 53 school districts in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0954                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEBBIE   OSSIANDER,  Member,   Anchorage   School  Board   [ASB],                                                               
testified via  teleconference in support  of SB 149.   She stated                                                               
that   this   bill   particularly  addresses   some   legislative                                                               
priorities  [the  ASB]  has  had,   and  [the  ASB]  particularly                                                               
appreciates the temporary certificate and retirement provisions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1022                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved  to   report  CSSSSB  149(HES),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS  stated  that  he is  not  clear  whether                                                               
people  who have  received a  RIF (reduction  in force)  from the                                                               
system would be allowed to return.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  ROETMAN,  Staff  to  Senator   Loren  Leman,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, came forth  on behalf of the sponsor of  SB 149, and                                                               
responded that  teachers, principles, or administrators  who have                                                               
been in  a RIP  (Retirement Incentive  Program) are  eligible for                                                               
this election under subsection 3(c).                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1085                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING objected [to the  moving of the bill].  He                                                               
stated  that  he  likes  the  concept  of  recognizing  teachers'                                                               
credentials  and  the  retirement-benefits election  option  that                                                               
would  allow for  retirement-benefit  payments  to be  suspended.                                                               
However, he  said he is  concerned about increasing  the benefits                                                               
because he  is not sure that  putting more money into  the public                                                               
education  system is  necessarily  going to  equate  to a  better                                                               
system.  He stated that  in his district, the average salary-and-                                                               
benefit package  is over  $60,000 a  year.   He remarked  that he                                                               
relates his  arguments to  the private sector  and the  fact that                                                               
there are some very happy teachers  who are doing a very good job                                                               
in the private system.   For example, at Anchorage Baptist Temple                                                               
there was a  teacher he knew who was making  about $1,500 a month                                                               
and was  very happy.   He added  that he  supports Representative                                                               
Stevens'  legislation that  puts more  money into  the foundation                                                               
formula under the  condition that it is monies  that are directed                                                               
toward offsetting the effects of inflation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   WILSON  commented   that   she  disagrees   with                                                               
Representative Kohring.   She  said this is  a real  and critical                                                               
problem, and  in the next  few years it  will be so  massive that                                                               
[Alaska] is  going to be in  dire straits to find  teachers.  She                                                               
stated  that  teachers'  pay  will   have  to  increase,  because                                                               
[Alaska's] pay will not even come close to the Lower 48's.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1275.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS   stated  that   he  does   respect  what                                                               
Representative  Kohring  has  said,  but [Alaska]  is  facing  an                                                               
enormous problem  in the near  future.   He said he  knows people                                                               
who have retired  after 20 years, moved to  Oregon or Washington.                                                               
and are  teaching down  there.   He stated  that this  allows for                                                               
people to take their retirement after  20 years and come back [to                                                               
Alaska]  and  teach,  which  will   attract  a  large  number  of                                                               
professionals.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING removed his objection.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced that there  being no further objection, HCS                                                               
CSSSSB 149(HES)  was moved from  the House Health,  Education and                                                               
Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                                             

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