Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/13/2013 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 57-LITERACY, PUPIL TRANSP, TEACHER NOTICES 8:00:10 AM CHAIR STEVENS announced that consideration of SB 57. TIM LAMKIN, staff to Senator Gary Stevens, introduced SB 57. He explained that the bill does three things. It is an effort to encourage parental involvement in their children's ability to read proficiently by third grade. It adjusts pupil transportation dollars annually by the inflationary index of Anchorage, which is about 3 percent. It also shifts the deadline for districts to notify faculty of layoff or non-retention from March 16 to May 15, in order to be compatible with the budget cycle. 8:03:01 AM MR. LAMKIN said that Section 4 of the bill would repeal the 1.5 percent pupil transportation amount enacted last year. Section 5 is required language to allow existing employment contracts with school districts and faculty to expire before the May 15 deadline is used. Section 6 sets an effective date of July 1, 2013. SENATOR GARDNER joined the meeting. CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony. 8:04:14 AM LES MORSE, Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, addressed the transportation component of the fiscal note. He noted in the past, Legislative Finance, along with the administration, requested the department to present fiscal notes for the public education fund addressing the cumulative effect. He said the fiscal note depicts the total amount SB 57 would cost, cumulatively, through FY 19. This is different than most fiscal notes which show a yearly increment. He suggested the fiscal note could be addressed in the Senate Finance Committee. CHAIR STEVENS said he was comfortable with that plan. MR. MORSE stated that the other piece pertains to where the burden would be in terms of distribution of materials, which Dr. McCauley will address. 8:06:11 AM DR. SUSAN MCCAULEY, Director, Division of Teaching & Learning Support, Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, explained the fiscal note for SB 57 with regard for the literacy component. It assumes that the department would be providing literacy resources to the parents of children in K - 3, approximately 45,000 students. The cost reflects that the department will development and distribute the materials. CHAIR STEVENS stated that he met with the Commissioner of Education and said it was not his intention that the department hire a staff to do all the work, but rather that they would work with districts to distribute materials. SENATOR GARDNER asked if it would make sense for small school districts to get the materials from other districts. CHAIR STEVENS agreed. He added that the plan was for the department to be responsible for giving the materials to the districts to distribute. He asked Mr. Morse if that was his understanding. 8:08:11 AM MR. MORSE answered that some money would be used to prepare the publications and for updating them. CHAIR STEVENS agreed that the department should work with the districts and provide materials. 8:09:26 AM DAVID MEANS, Director of Administration, Juneau School District (JSD), testified in support of SB 57. He drew attention to Section 2, which discusses a cost of living increase for pupil transportation contracts. He noted that the JSD contract already contains a cost of living increase. The bill would keep state payments in line with the school district's payments to its service provider, allowing foundation monies to go to classroom expenses as much as possible. He pointed out that in the current law there is a 1.5 percent increase for FY 14 and FY 15, but not thereafter. He noted support for Section 3, which provides for flexibility for all districts regarding reduction of tenured teachers. He stated support for Section 1, for all partnerships between the district and parents. 8:11:22 AM CHAIR STEVENS shared his experience of dealing with the non- retention date of March 16. He requested to know of concerns regarding changing that date to May 15. MR. MEANS opined that there is less controversy than was expected. SENATOR GARDNER asked when teachers expect to renew their contracts for the upcoming year. MR. MEANS replied that in JSD contracts are issued after the budget process around the end of May. 8:13:28 AM SENATOR GARDNER responded that it is unlikely that JSD would offer a contract in early May and then hand out a pink slip. MR. MEANS answered that they did not want to do that. Once a contract is offered, it is irrevocable for a tenured teacher. AMY LUJAN, Executive Director, Alaska Association of School Business Officials (AASBO), testified in support of SB 57. She noted that AASBO members deal with such things as transportation contracts. She said that last year AASBO assisted with SB 182 which revamped the pupil transportation funding mechanism. She opined that the change to the bill goes against the intent of SB 182, which was to make sure that classroom resources would not be used for transportation. She termed SB 57 a correction to that problem. She explained that the reference to the Anchorage Cost Price Index (CPI) was included as a best practice standardization of contracts several years ago. She testified in support of changing back to the Anchorage CPI. MS. LUJAN also testified in support of Section 3. 8:16:36 AM SENATOR GARDNER inquired which contracts Ms. Lujan was referring to, the pick slips or actual contracts. MS. LUJAN said both. SENATOR GARDNER asked if the legislation changes the contract date or just the non-retention notification date. MS. LUJAN said most districts hand out one or the other at the same time. MIKE ABBOTT, Chief Operating Officer, Anchorage School District, testified in support of SB 57. He said the Anchorage School District strongly supports all three provisions of the bill. CHAIR STEVENS asked if the Anchorage School District is already involved in supporting parent interaction in order to promote literacy. MR. ABBOTT replied that the Anchorage School District has already made progress regarding resources for parents and childcare providers of pre-K students. CHAIR STEVENS agreed that Anchorage is ahead of the game. SENATOR GARDNER asked when Anchorage currently offers teacher contracts. 8:19:45 AM MR. ABBOTT replied that Anchorage was similar to Juneau in that they try to offer contracts before the end of the school year. DAVE JONES, Assistant Superintendent, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, testified in support of SB 57. He concurred with the previous speaker about all three sections of the bill. He described how the date for contract issuance is determined. Tenured contracts are issued by March 16 and non-tenured contracts, or pink slips, must be issued by May 15 and are dependent on state funding. 8:23:42 AM MR. JONES commented that the date change gives the district time to decide if RIF's and teacher improvement plans are needed. MR. JONES summarized that the Kenai School District is in full support of all sections of SB 57. He thanked the legislature for prior funding for education. 8:25:53 AM DR. DEENA PARAMO, Superintendent, Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, testified in support of SB 57. She thanked the legislature for focusing on the real costs associated with education of kids in Alaska. She focused on transportation budget alignment with possible state contracts. 8:28:31 AM DR. PARAMO addressed a funding shortfall in regards to Mat-Su's transportation services due to SB 182. She spoke in support of SB 57's treatment of transportation funding. CHAIR STEVENS voiced appreciation for Dr. Paramo's comments. 8:30:09 AM KATHERINE GARDNER, Director of Human Resources, Matanuska- Susitna Borough School District, testified in support of SB 57. She focused her comments on Section 3 of the bill. She informed the committee about tenure law. She said Section 3 deals more with the date by which notice must be given, not by which a contract must be issued. MS. GARDNER listed the reasons why a later contract notification date is beneficial to the district. 8:34:08 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked how it works if a notice of non-retention is given and funds become available later on. He asked about the teacher re-instating process. MS. GARDNER said the process is complicated. The district must first consider seniority and endorsements and the process is disruptive. 8:36:03 AM ABBE HENSLEY, Executive Director, Best Beginnings, testified in support of Section 1 of SB 57. She stressed the importance of the parents' role in a child's learning to read. She recommended a multi-faceted campaign to provide accurate and useful information to parents about facilitating literacy. 8:39:04 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked how different districts assist parents in this effort. MS. HENSLEY replied that Best Beginnings does not have information about how specific districts might go about informing parents of children older than pre-K about early reading. She said the Anchorage School District is trying to work on the transition between pre-K and kindergarten. 8:40:51 AM CHAIR STEVENS held SB 57 in committee.