Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/14/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:59:39 AM Start
08:59:49 AM SJR9
11:15:05 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
*+ SJR 9 CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SJR  9-CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:59:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced the  consideration of  SJR 9.  He stated                                                               
his  intent to  introduce the  bill, hear  public testimony,  and                                                               
hold the bill in committee.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:01:02 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM   WRIGHT,  Staff,   Senator   Mia   Costello,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  thanked  Chair  Steven's aide  Tim                                                               
Lamkin for  the research  he did  for SB 131  last year.  Some of                                                               
that research  is in the  committee packets. He noted  there have                                                               
been  many efforts  in the  past  to enact  statutory change  for                                                               
early  funding  for  education.  He noted  the  legal  memo  from                                                               
Legislative  Legal Services  that one  legislature cannot  bind a                                                               
future legislature,  which is called legislative  entrenchment. A                                                               
U.S. Supreme  Court case  and an Alaska  Supreme Court  case have                                                               
said  that cannot  be done.  That is  why they  are going  with a                                                               
constitutional amendment and not a statutory change.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT said  none of the various  education amendments before                                                               
the legislature back  to 1993 have dealt with  early funding. SJR                                                               
9 requires a  separate appropriation bill to  fund K-12 education                                                               
and   requires  the   legislature   to  pass   and  transmit   an                                                               
appropriations bill  for K-12 education  by the 45th day  of each                                                               
regulation  session.  School  districts by  statute  must  submit                                                               
budgets to municipal governments by  May 1. These dates vary from                                                               
March to  May 1  depending on  the municipal  ordinance. Research                                                               
done   by  Mr.   Lamkin  and   Legislative  Research   shows  the                                                               
legislature   typically  passes   the  operating   budget,  which                                                               
includes education  funding, from  mid-April to  late May  and on                                                               
some  occasions,   into  June.   Passage  after  May   1  creates                                                               
uncertainty   for  school   districts  and   municipalities.  The                                                               
uncertainty  forces  school  districts  to issue  pink  slips  if                                                               
contracts are  not finalized by  May 15 for tenured  teachers and                                                               
by the  last day of  the school  term for nontenured  teachers as                                                               
found in AS 14.20.140.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT  said the  Institute of  Social and  Economic Research                                                               
(ISER) study in the packet shows  that between 2016 and 2017, the                                                               
turnover rates for  teachers in rural areas was  over 30 percent,                                                               
22 percent  for hub  communities, and  14 to  16 percent  in more                                                               
populous  communities. According  to  ISER,  research shows  high                                                               
teacher  turnover hurts  student  achievement.  According to  the                                                               
National  Education  Association  (NEA), 1,000  teachers  of  the                                                               
8,900 teachers in the state  turnover yearly. This does cost each                                                               
school district.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WRIGHT  said  uncertainty  among  municipalities  and  local                                                               
governments  when  attempting to  build  a  budget for  the  next                                                               
fiscal year is  another reason for looking at  early funding. SJR                                                               
9  has letters  of  support  from the  Alaska  Council of  School                                                               
Administrators,  the Association  of Alaska  School Boards,  NEA,                                                               
and  many teachers  and constituents  statewide. SJR  9 does  not                                                               
address  funding sources.  It does  not talk  about increases  or                                                               
decreases,  funding the  Public  Employee Retiree  System or  the                                                               
Teacher  Retirement  System,  school  bonds or  debt,  or  pupil-                                                               
teacher  ratios.  It does  remove  education  funding from  late-                                                               
session  negotiations   that  are   conducted  between   the  two                                                               
legislative  bodies  and  the  administration.  SJR  9  is  about                                                               
supporting K-12  education funding  and removing  the uncertainty                                                               
of funding for schools.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if they pass  SJR 9, must the  governor sign                                                               
it and then it goes to the public.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT answered  that it requires a two-third  vote from each                                                               
body.  The  governor does  not  play  much  of  a role.  It  goes                                                               
directly to the ballot if it passes the legislature.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  it  requires   a  simple  majority  in  the                                                               
election.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT answered yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:06:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH  said that he  is reticent about putting  things in                                                               
the  constitution. They  always talk  about this  flurry of  pink                                                               
slips. He  wondered how much of  that is just a  manifestation of                                                               
labor  contracts that  municipalities  or  school districts  have                                                               
engaged in.  They have a  whole lot  of employees hanging  in the                                                               
balance  waiting to  see what  happens with  budgeting issue.  It                                                               
always  struck  him   that  that  the  pink  slip   issue  was  a                                                               
manifestation  of  labor  contracts  that  describes  the  notice                                                               
requirement for a tenured employee.  He is worried about the tail                                                               
wagging the dog.  Perhaps what they should do is  pass the budget                                                               
earlier,  get it  done in  90 days.  SB 26  has gone  a long  way                                                               
toward that. They  have some predictability in  revenue and maybe                                                               
all  employees can  get  some level  of  understanding about  the                                                               
budget without  dragging it  out halfway  through the  summer. He                                                               
asked if  Mr. Wright could speak  to the labor contracts.  He did                                                               
mention  the  notification  differs for  nontenured  vs.  tenured                                                               
teachers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT  said that NEA,  who would be testifying  later, could                                                               
answer  that  question. There  is  a  statutory requirement  that                                                               
requires pink slips to go out by  a certain date if the budget is                                                               
not finalized.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  often  cities  and  school  districts  have                                                               
differing fiscal years. That overlap  creates an entanglement and                                                               
increases the  uncertainty. They don't  speak to that  in statute                                                               
as  far as  any  legislative mandate  about  alignment of  fiscal                                                               
years. He asked if that had any impact.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WRIGHT   replied  no  because  by   municipal  ordinance  in                                                               
Anchorage the  school district budget  is due to the  assembly by                                                               
the first Monday in March.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:09:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  said early  learning is important  to him  and he                                                               
has  a  prekindergarten  bill.  He  supports  the  constitutional                                                               
amendment,  but  he wonders  if  the  sponsor  would be  open  to                                                               
adjustments   to  the   language   that  would   allow  for   the                                                               
possibility,  if prekindergarten  is statutorily  authorized, for                                                               
prekindergarten  to  be included.  The  language  could refer  to                                                               
expenditures to  fund public  education to  precollege so  that a                                                               
university education is  not mandated. He asked if  they would be                                                               
open to considering that.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT replied that he  would be comfortable speaking to that                                                               
after talking to the bill sponsor.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH said  in reference to the  binding referendum, his                                                               
understanding is that  it takes an act of the  legislature not to                                                               
be  bound.  A  legislature  passes a  bill  and  the  legislature                                                               
continues  to  act  under  the authority  of  that  statute  that                                                               
"binds" it but has the power to  reverse it. That is why he likes                                                               
this constitutional approach.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT  replied that without  the legal memo they  would have                                                               
introduced statutory language like the chair did in SB 131.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:11:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  they  all  understand  the  importance  of                                                               
certainty and the  importance of K-12 funding.  Every four years,                                                               
with a change in administration,  quite a different budget is put                                                               
out  mid-February than  the one  put out  in December.  That only                                                               
gives  them 15  days to  figure that  out. That  gives her  pause                                                               
because it is  such a huge component of the  budget. She asked if                                                               
in the  early 2000s there  was early  funding a year  ahead. That                                                               
would  also solve  it. It  could  go through  the regular  budget                                                               
process, but  it would be for  the next year. She  asked if there                                                               
was an attempt  to do that. The  only way to get  into that cycle                                                               
would be to double fund in one year, which would be tough to do.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT  answered there was  forward funding. He  thought that                                                               
ended three or  four years ago because they  started getting into                                                               
a budget crisis, so to speak.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES said she would prefer  that if they were ever able                                                               
to do that again  because then it would have the  full time to be                                                               
vetted. She  would be concerned  about a new governor  laying out                                                               
his revised budget February 15 and  only having 15 days to figure                                                               
out how they would do this.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said  forward funding was a reasonable  thing to do                                                               
and  it was  fairly easy  to  only fund  one budget  a year  when                                                               
forward  funding was  there. He  asked if  forward funding  comes                                                               
into question with the legal opinion he has.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT answered that it does not.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:14:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH said  technically they  forward funded  last year                                                               
because they  did two years of  funding. It is as  recent as now.                                                               
He is pleased  to hear the legal opinion does  not affect forward                                                               
funding.  They  passed  two  years  of  funding  last  year.  His                                                               
interpretation  is that  the first  year of  new administration's                                                               
budget  regarding  education  is   irrelevant  because  they  had                                                               
already  funded  it.  That  addresses her  question  in  a  sense                                                               
because they  didn't have to  wait 15  days to review  or revise.                                                               
It's already happened because they forward funded.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES said  to continue  the conversation,  because the                                                               
forward funding  happened and  they have the  ability to  peel it                                                               
back,  would  it make  more  sense,  if  they  are going  to  put                                                               
something  in the  constitution, that  they could  not peel  back                                                               
what was  forward funded. It would  be part of the  normal 90- or                                                               
120-days budget process the prior year.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  they  certainly  want  to  hear  about  the                                                               
problems districts have.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:16:48 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive  Director, Alaska Council of                                                               
School Administrators, Juneau, Alaska,  supported SJR 9. She said                                                               
it is  an important bill at  a critical time. To  address Senator                                                               
Birch's  questions,  they agree  with  his  initial reticence  to                                                               
support a  constitutional amendment for the  reasons he outlined.                                                               
They had a long discussion  with members. Ideally the legislature                                                               
would do what they did last  year or forward fund or do something                                                               
to ensure  reliable funding.  The whole point  is that  they want                                                               
school districts to operate efficiently  and run like a business.                                                               
In order to do that, they  need to know the budget. Their members                                                               
completely agree.  They are  thankful, for  the reasons  that Mr.                                                               
Wright testified to, that Senator  Costello brought this forward.                                                               
At the  end of the  day, it needs  to be consistent  and reliable                                                               
and this seems to the best pathway today to ensure that.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. PARADY said that they are  in a shortage never seen before in                                                               
Alaska. It is  a national crisis. Alaska  historically is reliant                                                               
on  recruiting teachers  from  the lower  48,  which makes  their                                                               
crisis worse.  The ISER  numbers are a  bit dated.  Currently, 25                                                               
percent  is   the  state  average   for  teacher   turnover.  The                                                               
trajectory  is  going up.  It  is  like concentric  circles.  The                                                               
further the circles go out in  the state, the higher the numbers.                                                               
In remote,  isolated places,  the turnover is  60 to  70 percent.                                                               
That  is  devastating.  They know  the  research  around  student                                                               
achievement and  the importance of  quality staff  in classrooms.                                                               
Put  that against  a  village  turnover of  70  percent and  that                                                               
school is  being decimated.  Then couple that  with a  26 percent                                                               
principal turnover  rate. Principals are second  only to teachers                                                               
in terms of student achievement.  She wanted to paint the picture                                                               
of what districts  are working with. The  leadership component is                                                               
also essential. In her five years  in office, she has seen almost                                                               
a 70 percent  turnover rate of superintendents. If  they think of                                                               
it  as  a  business,  the   teachers  are  the  front  line,  the                                                               
principals  are the  middle management,  and the  superintendents                                                               
are the  CEOs. She asked  what the output  of a business  is with                                                               
that kind of turnover.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR.  PARADY  said that  they  need  to  look  at districts  as  a                                                               
business as well. Districts are  working hard to be efficient and                                                               
effective  and serve  their students  in the  best way  possible.                                                               
This reliable and predictable funding  is key to their ability to                                                               
do  this.   All  policymakers   need  to  understand   that.  Her                                                               
organization  just  completed  an  impact survey  to  learn  from                                                               
districts  individually  what  their  impact would  be  from  the                                                               
governor's proposed  budget. They are  in the process  of putting                                                               
that together so they can share  that. Their initial look is they                                                               
are hemorrhaging teachers right  now because of that uncertainty.                                                               
A  principal  told  her  yesterday   that  two  great  nontenured                                                               
teachers  were   leaving  because   he  can't  give   them  their                                                               
contracts. That is  their reality. In February she  wrote each of                                                               
the committee members a letter and  she was grateful that most of                                                               
them agreed. The letter outlined  those timelines that Mr. Wright                                                               
also did. The  committee has the 2019  joint position statements.                                                               
Every year  they work collectively  to find consensus  across all                                                               
the  members about  what the  most important  priorities are  for                                                               
education. Unequivocally  the highest  priority is  this, timely,                                                               
reliable, and  predictable revenue for  schools so that  they can                                                               
do the appropriate  planning in the way the  committee wants them                                                               
to.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:24:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  the public  must  understand  the  timeline                                                               
issue. He asked her to go through that.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR. PARADY  said pursuant to  AS 14.14.060 school  districts that                                                               
are  a component  unit of  a city  or borough  must submit  their                                                               
budgets  to  their  municipality  by May  1.  Right  now  tenured                                                               
teachers' contracts  are being signed.  In many  school districts                                                               
nontenured  [contracts] are  being  held as  a  result of  budget                                                               
uncertainty. If  there is no  resolution on education  funding by                                                               
May 15, nontenured teachers will  likely be pink slipped. That is                                                               
the hard  deadline. There are  different timelines  in ordinances                                                               
for submitting  budgets. Anchorage has  a March 1  deadline. Many                                                               
deadlines are April  1. Districts are preparing  their budgets in                                                               
December to present to their governing bodies.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said it  is difficult for  districts to  do hiring                                                               
without   knowing  the   budget.   His  sympathies   go  out   to                                                               
superintendents who  must decide what  the budget is going  to be                                                               
and must  decide whether to  hire people without  knowing whether                                                               
the  money  will  be  there.   It  is  an  enormous  problem  for                                                               
superintendents.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  everyone  is   subject  to  a  budget.  His                                                               
frustration relates to being involved  in local government. There                                                               
is  a disconnect  between the  two masters.  The state  of Alaska                                                               
provides  significant  funding for  education.  There  is also  a                                                               
local  component. A  lot of  the  spending rests  with the  local                                                               
school boards,  such as contract provisions  and health benefits.                                                               
The legislature  doesn't have any  control over that.  Anyone who                                                               
has  been a  parent  or in  a work  environment  strives to  have                                                               
certainty and  stability in both one's  professional and personal                                                               
life. The pink  slip kerfuffle that seems to  happen when there's                                                               
a funding  issue has always  troubled him.  If there is  a budget                                                               
people are  subject to,  the budget has  to be  approved, whether                                                               
state, local, or  federal. His frustration is that  the pink slip                                                               
issue is  largely a  manifestation of  a contract  provision that                                                               
could be dealt with at a local  level. It is not being dealt with                                                               
effectively. If the  money is not there, someone is  not going to                                                               
have a job.  He doesn't know anyone who  discounts the importance                                                               
of education. He has four  kids in the Anchorage School District.                                                               
The  fact is  that  they will  fund education  this  year. He  is                                                               
concerned  with the  issue of  contract  requirements. There  are                                                               
hard and fast  dates for tenured vs. nontenured. He  asked if the                                                               
difference  is  a  manifestation  of  state  law  or  a  contract                                                               
provision. He asked how that is driving the train.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. PARADY  said school districts  do not have control  over many                                                               
costs, such as health insurance.  Addressing some of those things                                                               
from  a  policy  level  would   provide  some  relief  to  school                                                               
districts.  A superintendent  this year  looks at  a budget  that                                                               
takes funding back  to 2005 levels, which is  what the governor's                                                               
budget does, and looks at  inflationary costs of health insurance                                                               
since  2005,  which districts  have  no  control over,  but  they                                                               
absorb those costs in their  budgets. If a superintendent in that                                                               
situation knows and  believes that the legislature  will not fund                                                               
education at the 2005 level, but  also knows that is all there is                                                               
at this point, how does  the superintendent budget for that. What                                                               
ends up  happening is multiple  budget scenarios. One is  for the                                                               
worst-case  scenario.  The Kenai  School  District  will cut  all                                                               
sports. Districts  will do  x and y.  Enormous amounts  of energy                                                               
are spent  trying to anticipate  where the budget will  land. And                                                               
then    there    are     the    statutory    requirements,    the                                                               
tenured/nontenured dates,  the ordinance dates, and  any specific                                                               
collective bargaining  agreement pieces. It  is a complex  way to                                                               
plan well for districts. She thanked  them for what they did last                                                               
year. It  was hard fought and  gave all of them  in education the                                                               
opportunity to plan and do  budgets with some assurance that they                                                               
could  offer contracts  in a  timely way  and retain  and attract                                                               
teachers. They  want to  encourage them to  stay the  course. The                                                               
law is clear.  They did not bind the hands  of future legislators                                                               
by the work they did last  year. They were within their rights to                                                               
put an  extension of the  effective date on existing  funds. That                                                               
was legal, it will  hold if they do nothing and  let that go into                                                               
law,  which is  their  hope. They  are set.  They  can get  their                                                               
budgets and  contracts done.  The sooner  that decision  is made,                                                               
the better for school districts.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:33:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH  said there  was testimony  on education  in Senate                                                               
Finance that  the cost of health  care went from $300  million to                                                               
$600 million. He doesn't understand  why the local district would                                                               
not have control. They negotiate  labor contracts that define how                                                               
health care is paid for and how much is paid for.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR.  PARADY said  she was  referring  to the  escalating cost  of                                                               
health insurance.  Her organization is in  the private, nonprofit                                                               
sector and  their insurance has  gone up  37 percent. She  has no                                                               
control over that. She can shop  from here to there, but it's all                                                               
escalated.  She  doesn't   know  of  a  district   that  has  not                                                               
negotiated with  teachers and others  to address  that situation,                                                               
but  they can't  keep up  with  that inflationary  rate. It's  so                                                               
extreme.  Even   if  they  change   health  care   provisions  in                                                               
collective bargaining  agreements, they  can't keep up  with that                                                               
rate.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  her understanding  is  that  the  district                                                               
employee contribution is much smaller  than for federal and state                                                               
employees and  most private  sector employees.  She asked  if Dr.                                                               
Parady had any information on that.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR.  PARADY said  she doesn't  have information  about that.  She                                                               
would  think that  it would  look different  for each  collective                                                               
bargaining unit. NEA may have that information.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  she  understands  that  it  is  quite  low                                                               
compared to others, but she doesn't know the numbers.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH said  tenure rights  are part  of state  law, not                                                               
contracts. Teachers acquire tenure after three years.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. PARADY said  teachers become tenured on the first  day of the                                                               
fourth year.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:37:04 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  PARKER,  President,  National  Education  Association  (NEA)                                                               
Alaska,  Fairbanks, Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said he  is an                                                               
English teacher  from Lathrop High  School. He  represents 13,000                                                               
members  from  across  the state,  both  teachers  and  education                                                               
support professionals.  Their mission  and job  are to  make sure                                                               
student learning happens.  That is what they care  about, that is                                                               
what they  do, that is what  gives them joy. Proposals  like this                                                               
are very  important. If  there is a  proposal that  will increase                                                               
student learning, they will be  for it. Just about everyone today                                                               
has said that  stability and certainty are what  they are looking                                                               
for. There  seems to be  unanimous consensus on  that. Disruption                                                               
is  where the  issues  come in.  He wanted  to  thank the  entire                                                               
legislature  for last  year's work,  which was  an attempt  to do                                                               
something   similar   to   this--provide   some   stability   and                                                               
consistency. It should  have had that intended effect.  It is not                                                               
having  the entire  intended  effect now  because  of the  budget                                                               
proposal that's become the topic  of the legislature. Everyone in                                                               
the state  is talking  about it. Teachers  are talking  about it.                                                               
Teachers have  a limited term  to obtain contracts.  Their window                                                               
has  already  started. People  are  being  offered or  not  being                                                               
offered contracts.  Some are anticipating  leaving. That  is that                                                               
unintended consequence.  People look down  the line and  see they                                                               
are  the person  who will  be  let go.  They might  as well  just                                                               
leave. Some  teachers of the  year are talking about  leaving the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PARKER  said  Dr.  Parady  mentioned  the  national  teacher                                                               
shortage.  The ability  to attract  and  retain professionals  is                                                               
critical. Alaska is in competition  with the rest of the country.                                                               
More than 20  governors have proposed increasing  teacher pay. In                                                               
Washington  state  last year  salary  jumps  of 20  percent  were                                                               
common.  It is  a competitive  labor  market, and  Alaska is  not                                                               
keeping  up.   Meanwhile,  enrollment  in  teacher   colleges  is                                                               
dropping across the  country. Part of that is  the profession has                                                               
been picked on  and insulted and young people are  not going into                                                               
education  to the  same degree  they did  in the  past. The  most                                                               
recent statistic is  that there has been a  35 percent reduction.                                                               
They have  to hire  many teachers  from Outside.  Alaska colleges                                                               
produce 200 to  250 teachers a year, and Alaska  needs close to a                                                               
thousand teachers every year.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER said the retirement  issue is front and center. Alaska                                                               
has the worst retirement in  the country for teachers. Forty-nine                                                               
states  have defined  benefits or  a hybrid.  Alaska is  the only                                                               
state  that  has  defined  contributions   only  with  no  social                                                               
security.  The youngest  educators  are realizing  that  it is  a                                                               
mammoth risk factor and they  are leaving. Portability was put in                                                               
the 2006 package.  That looks super attractive  when salaries are                                                               
going up  everywhere else. With  the disruption in Alaska,  it is                                                               
like they created  a perfect storm and people are  leaving. It is                                                               
hurting the system.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER  said the work of  the Senate and the  House Education                                                               
Committees and the Department of  Education and Early Development                                                               
resulted  in the  Alaska Education  Challenge. They  just created                                                               
the document, which  is now a PDF on the  department website. One                                                               
of  the trajectories  in  the Alaska  Education  Challenge is  to                                                               
prepare, attract,  and retain effective  education professionals.                                                               
It one  of the  big five that  the commissioner  has highlighted.                                                               
The  State Board  of Education  is leaning  into that.  The first                                                               
line  of  the report  is  that  national research  suggests  that                                                               
outcomes improve  when students receive quality  instruction from                                                               
well-prepared  teachers  and  that  teacher  turnover  negatively                                                               
affects student outcomes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER said that SJR 9  is part of the solution. Teachers are                                                               
subject  to the  school calendar.  They have  a calendar  overlap                                                               
that exacerbates the problem with  competition from the lower 48.                                                               
Unlike almost  any other employment,  teachers have to get  a job                                                               
between March and  May. They are not getting a  job in September,                                                               
October,  or  November.  Teachers  sign a  contract.  This  weird                                                               
window puts a  lot of pressure on when people  need to know. Some                                                               
are  already leaving  school districts  because school  districts                                                               
don't  know  their  budgets.  He spoke  to  a  special  education                                                               
teacher in Mat-Su who  said he was told he will  get a pink slip.                                                               
He has to decide whether he stays  with the risk not having a job                                                               
for the next year or  go elsewhere. The real self-inflicted wound                                                               
is the recurring cycle. They know  that if pink slips are issued,                                                               
school districts  will try  to rehire teachers  once they  have a                                                               
budget, but  the teachers are gone.  Often they are the  best and                                                               
brightest. That  is a heart  breaker. If districts are  hiring in                                                               
the summer, most teachers have already secured jobs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER said  the turnover rates are generally  25 percent. In                                                               
the urban  areas it is  as low as eight  to ten percent.  In some                                                               
rural areas it  is 30, 40, or  50 percent. Some sites  have a 100                                                               
percent  turnover.  It  is   about  relationships.  Stability  in                                                               
schools lead to greater student  outcomes. That is their passion,                                                               
what  they  care about.  Teachers  who  stay form  relationships.                                                               
Students  have no  trust  in  teachers in  the  areas of  highest                                                               
turnover. That is causing less learning to happen.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:48:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS said that his  experience in high school showed the                                                               
importance of  relationships. He had  great teachers who  he knew                                                               
would be there year after year. That trust is so important.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  said the pink  slip issue is in  statute. Tenured                                                               
teachers must be notified by May 15  and by the end of the school                                                               
year for all others that they  will not be retained. He wanted to                                                               
clarify that that is not part of contract negotiations.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH said  that it seems that when a  whole slew of pink                                                               
slips  is  issued,  they  inevitably  turn  around.  He  supports                                                               
advanced  funding  for  education  like they  did  last  year  to                                                               
provide stability.  That uncertainty  about employment  is tough.                                                               
He asked if it is necessary to issue pink slips.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PARKER  replied that  he  did  not  know. From  an  employee                                                               
standpoint, they  ask for certainty  as soon as possible  so they                                                               
can get another  job if they are  going to be let  go. Because of                                                               
the  unique nature  of the  teacher  world, which  has a  limited                                                               
window  for  employment,  people  want  to  know  in  January  or                                                               
February so that they  can get a job. They don't  want to know in                                                               
May. A pink  slip is a question mark. People  must make decisions                                                               
about whether to leave or stay based on that question mark.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:51:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  there  has  been  some  discussion  of  the                                                               
explosive cost  of health care.  When he was in  local government                                                               
in the  Anchorage School  District, they  attempted to  peel back                                                               
the layers  of that health care  plan. It was always  shrouded in                                                               
mystery  and not  very transparent.  He  thought it  was an  NEA-                                                               
administered plan. He asked if  that was uniform across the state                                                               
and how is health care generally offered to teachers.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER  said that health  care is an important  component for                                                               
everyone  and everyone  has suffered  from explosive  health care                                                               
increases. Health care is outpacing  prices in the lower 48. That                                                               
is  why  people   fly  to  Seattle  for   low-level  things  like                                                               
colonoscopies. Teachers value  health education. Their membership                                                               
tends  to be  slightly older  and the  majority are  female. They                                                               
place a  high premium on  health care.  They wish there  was some                                                               
way  to  pare  costs.  Throughout the  state  there  are  various                                                               
arrangements made  for health care.  The Public  Education Health                                                               
Trust is  one of  the larger ones.  It is an  option that  can be                                                               
negotiated. Fairbanks  and Kenai are self-insured.  Trusts cannot                                                               
stop increases in  health care costs. He doesn't know  what to do                                                               
about it. His expertise is helping students learn.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   HUGHES  asked   if  he   could  speak   about  employee                                                               
contributions on  average for health  care. Her  understanding is                                                               
that it is low compared to federal and state contracts.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER said  he does not have those numbers,  but he can find                                                               
them. The only difference is that  they put a high premium on it.                                                               
In general,  their members are  a 52-year-old woman. That  is the                                                               
average age of members and  the profession is mostly female. They                                                               
bargain  health care  and are  always willing  to pay  more. They                                                               
don't want to go without health care.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  asked if he  could get that information  to them.                                                               
It  is something  she has  heard,  but she  hasn't seen  anything                                                               
specific.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER replied that he would.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:56:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  said the National Conference  of State Legislators                                                               
had  a   federally-funded  program  called  Legislators   in  the                                                               
Classroom. It was a wonderful program.  They ran out of money, so                                                               
they stopped  doing it, but  there is no  cost to them.  He would                                                               
hope  that school  districts would  invite them  into classrooms.                                                               
Last year he spent  half a day in a first grade  class and he was                                                               
exhausted by the  time he left. The teacher, a  woman in her 50s,                                                               
could control  the class completely.  It was a  great experience.                                                               
Legislatures should all take the time to go into the classroom.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  said she  was very  concerned about  the national                                                               
teacher  shortage, the  loss of  teacher  accreditation [for  the                                                               
University of  Anchorage (UAA) Alaska  School of  Education] that                                                               
they are hoping will not cause  a dip, and the national reduction                                                               
in students enrolling in teacher  preparation programs. She asked                                                               
if there  is any information  that shows the  correlation between                                                               
schools with  high turnover rate and  lower academic performance.                                                               
That  is   important  information  for  them   as  they  consider                                                               
education funding.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKER  said that the  lowest performance, no  matter whether                                                               
it  is  measured  with the  National  Assessment  of  Educational                                                               
Progress,  the   state's  PEAKS  assessment,  MAP   [Measures  of                                                               
Academic Progress]  assessments, or teacher assessments,  back up                                                               
what she  is saying. When  there is  a large amount  of turnover,                                                               
the ability  of students to  learn in that classroom  is horribly                                                               
disrupted. All the studies are not  good. That is becoming a more                                                               
common  piece  of  the  equation.   They  are  watching  the  UAA                                                               
situation  carefully.  In  general,  the  university  system  has                                                               
produced about 250 teachers. If that  drops, it would mean a need                                                               
to recruit  even more.  That costs  a lot.  ISER studies  show it                                                               
costs  $25,000  per  teacher  to   go  Outside  and  recruit  new                                                               
teachers.  University President  Johnsen has  wanted to  increase                                                               
the numbers  in the teacher programs  in the state. They  are 100                                                               
percent behind that, especially  if potential teachers from every                                                               
section  of the  state would  do  that and  go back.  It is  very                                                               
powerful. At  Lathrop High School,  all the teachers who  went to                                                               
Lathrop stand up in the assembly at  the start of the year. It is                                                               
about eight  to ten teachers.  That is  a power. They  went there                                                               
and dedicated themselves to their  community and became an anchor                                                               
and a  rock. When they see  success in the system,  and there are                                                               
some  amazing  successes,  it's  almost  always  around  a  solid                                                               
community  and  base.  They  need to  build  that.  Teachers  and                                                               
schools are  a piece of the  community. If they build  that solid                                                               
base, kids will learn and that's a win for everyone.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said they  would wait  to do  the fiscal  notes so                                                               
they could hear testimony. He then opened public testimony.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:01:09 AM                                                                                                                   
NILS  ANDREASSEN,  Director,  Alaska  Municipal  League,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said the  Alaska Municipal  League                                                               
(AML) is comprised of 165  municipalities and incorporated cities                                                               
and boroughs  across the state.  State budget  appropriations and                                                               
allocations are  of extreme  importance to  the health  and well-                                                               
being of local  governments. AML is the advocacy  arm of Alaska's                                                               
municipalities.  SJR 9  is beneficial  to  local government.  The                                                               
National Conference on State Legislatures  knows that states bear                                                               
the burden of  ensuring that the statewide  school finance system                                                               
is  founded   on  sound  governance  principles.   This  includes                                                               
promoting predictability and stability  of education revenues and                                                               
expenditures  over  time.  Every state  constitution  contains  a                                                               
clause requiring  the state  to provide a  system of  free public                                                               
education. The  Alaska Municipal League  has been a  proponent of                                                               
forward funding  the education  budget. In  2006 and  2007, after                                                               
ISER  studies  of  the  time,   AML  voted  on  resolutions  that                                                               
advocated  for  stable  and   predictable  funding.  Since  2012,                                                               
position  statements  have  included  support  for  full  forward                                                               
funding  of  education  foundation  programs,  school  bond  debt                                                               
reimbursement, and construction programs.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN  said  AML  remain  committed  to  giving  school                                                               
districts  the  lead  time  they   need  to  recruit  and  retain                                                               
qualified  and  high-performing  teachers  even  as  they  oppose                                                               
reductions to  school funding or school  bond debt reimbursement.                                                               
Sudden  alternations in  funding and  dramatic shifts  in funding                                                               
levels cause  havoc as  districts try  to implement  programs and                                                               
local  governments  try  to  respond.  Stability  of  funding  is                                                               
required  for  the  adequate   management  of  school  districts.                                                               
Billions  of  state  and  local dollars  have  been  expended  on                                                               
educational  infrastructure  and  sudden  reductions  in  funding                                                               
inevitably  cause the  deferral of  maintenance for  this massive                                                               
investment. Deferral of maintenance  increases the eventual price                                                               
tag when minor maintenance issues become critical failures.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDREASSEN said  they cannot comment on whether  SJR 9 should                                                               
be a  constitutional amendment  or a  statutory change,  but they                                                               
are advocating for  something to be done to shift  the state from                                                               
uncertainty  and conflict  towards  sustainable, affordable,  and                                                               
predictable solutions.  Sustainable, affordable,  and predictable                                                               
solutions cannot come at the  cost of student achievement, should                                                               
be  implemented  over  time,  and   should  correspond  to  local                                                               
conditions,  planning, and  negotiated agreements.  At the  local                                                               
level and  for school  districts, this  resolution is  a critical                                                               
step  toward improving  educational  attainment  in Alaska.  This                                                               
improves municipalities'  ability to budget accordingly  and plan                                                               
for  increases or  reductions to  local  school districts.  Local                                                               
governments are  not created equally.  The municipalities  in the                                                               
AML  have  a  wide  range  in  their  responsiveness  to  funding                                                               
increases or decrements. One borough  said that if they needed to                                                               
make a change to their budget  today, they cannot implement a tax                                                               
increase until  October, a  six-month lead  time between  a state                                                               
decision  and their  ability  to make  up  the difference.  Local                                                               
taxes can  shift predictably  and according  to local  need. This                                                               
bill improves the  quality of the local  contribution by building                                                               
on this responsiveness.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:06:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BIRCH said one of  largest liabilities that the state has                                                               
is  the liability  for the  Teacher Retirement  System (TRS)  and                                                               
Public  Employee  Retirement  System  (PERS).  He  asked  if  Mr.                                                               
Andreassen could speak about the  status of that from a community                                                               
standpoint.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr. ANDREASSEN replied that the  TRS and PERS issue is critically                                                               
important   and   a   component   of   education   funding.   His                                                               
understanding is  that they  are challenged.  PERS affects  64 of                                                               
165 of the  municipalities. He doesn't know the  number of school                                                               
districts  affected. It  is a  large percentage  of district  and                                                               
local government budgets. Right sizing  a budget in response to a                                                               
state funding decision doesn't take  away any of the liabilities.                                                               
A  reduction in  the state  workforce increases  the overall  net                                                               
pension liability  for all employers  and municipalities  make up                                                               
18 percent of that employer  base. State reductions or reductions                                                               
across the  employer pool only  add to the net  pension liability                                                               
and  overall the  unfunded liability,  which increases  the state                                                               
contribution or  on behalf  payment. It  is a  significant issue.                                                               
Just as school  districts or local government  have a challenging                                                               
time  anticipating increases  in health  care costs,  so has  the                                                               
state pension  system. From  their perspective,  health increases                                                               
within the pension system have  been the greatest destabilizer to                                                               
PERS and TRS over the last 20 years.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH  said he looked  forward to  working with him  on a                                                               
solution.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:09:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SARAH   SLEDGE,  Director,   Coalition   for  Education   Equity,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, supported SJR 9.  She said their mission is to                                                               
champion  an adequate  and equitable  public education  for every                                                               
Alaskan  child. One  of their  top priorities  is adequate  state                                                               
investment  in  Alaska's  public   education  system  and  public                                                               
schools. This includes ensuring  that public education funding is                                                               
reliable and that  funding decisions are made in  a timely manner                                                               
to enable  school districts to plan  efficiently and responsibly.                                                               
This  resolution puts  students first  by removing  the financial                                                               
uncertainty  schools have  faced year  after year  throughout the                                                               
budgeting  process  and  is critical  for  ensuring  a  long-term                                                               
fiscal  plan for  public education.  They are  continually asking                                                               
school  districts to  plan and  budget  effectively, looking  for                                                               
efficiencies where possible.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE  said that the  Alaska Association of  School Business                                                               
Officials  (ALASBO) testified  during  last  year's session.  The                                                               
testimony outlined  all the ways  that school districts  are able                                                               
to  more   efficiently  plan  budgets  when   they  have  advance                                                               
knowledge  of the  budget. They  can look  for contracts,  budget                                                               
travel,  hire  teachers.  When  she worked  with  United  Way  of                                                               
Anchorage, she  worked on research around  protective factors and                                                               
children outcomes. It correlates  certain protective factors with                                                               
positive  behaviors and  academic outcomes  in students.  The top                                                               
protective   factor   for   students  is   a   supportive   adult                                                               
relationship.  That  correlates   with  positive  behaviors  like                                                               
attending school,  better grades,  and decrease in  risk factors,                                                               
including depression and suicide.  That is an increasing concern,                                                               
especially in  the rural  areas of  Alaska. She  cannot emphasize                                                               
enough how critical  having supportive adults is  to children and                                                               
their health.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE  said that most  school districts that  she represents                                                               
are  rural.  Many  of  those  schools  have  only  a  handful  of                                                               
teachers. Mr. Parker  mentioned how difficult it can  be to build                                                               
that trust relationship  with young people. But in  some of those                                                               
schools,  those relationships  are  built  quickly, and  children                                                               
come to  depend on  their teachers for  that support.  When those                                                               
teachers  leave  year after  year,  it  is devastating  to  young                                                               
people. Anything they  can do to increase the  retention of their                                                               
teachers is critical to the success of their kids.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE said  any effort to stabilize K-12  funding will allow                                                               
public  schools  to  budget effectively  and  efficiently,  which                                                               
leads to greater ability to  recruit and retain quality educators                                                               
and  greater  capacity  to focus  on  maintaining  and  improving                                                               
quality instruction for their children.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  that  in another  committee  they  will  be                                                               
considering telemedicine and  how that can work  with rural areas                                                               
in  Alaska.  He  asked  for her  perspective  on  using  distance                                                               
learning in rural areas for K-12.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE  replied that some  school districts  are successfully                                                               
using  a  video  teleconferencing   model  to  expand  curricular                                                               
options in the smaller villages.  She emphasized that it does not                                                               
replace having an  adult in the classroom, but it  can expand the                                                               
content being  provided, as  long as  an adult  is there  to form                                                               
relationships with children.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH   asked  about   the  limits  on   broadband  and                                                               
connectivity in  rural villages, which create  obstacles for that                                                               
type of learning.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE  replied that  many communities  don't have  access to                                                               
the  broadband needed  for video  teleconferencing. Others  might                                                               
have  that bandwidth,  but it  is very  expensive. It  is another                                                               
budgeting  concern for  school  districts to  get  access to  the                                                               
bandwidth they need to do  video teleconferencing. There is a lot                                                               
of great  content out there,  but it  requires a large  amount of                                                               
bandwidth to deliver that.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES said she has a  bill for that and the senator from                                                               
Bethel has a broadband funding bill,  which is so timely and will                                                               
open  up  opportunities,  help  with  the  teacher  shortage  and                                                               
increase  academic  learning.  She  thanked Ms.  Sledge  for  her                                                               
insights. It is very concerning.  There are pockets of excellence                                                               
with  some districts  doing  a phenomenal  job,  but overall  the                                                               
statewide academic performance is lacking. They have work to do.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:17:21 AM                                                                                                                   
TAMMY  SMITH,  State  Director, National  Education  Association-                                                               
Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, supported SJR  9. She said that she is                                                               
a teacher  on spring break and  thrilled to be in  Juneau because                                                               
this  is so  timely. Districts  need to  be able  to plan  ahead.                                                               
Being  able to  recruit and  retain  teachers is  so critical  to                                                               
students and  to improve student  learning. She told how  she was                                                               
personally affected  by receiving pink  slips as a  young teacher                                                               
in 1989, 1990,  and 1991. It was traumatic. As  a new teacher and                                                               
a new mother,  she had to think about whether  to stay in Alaska.                                                               
Her  sister told  her there  were jobs  in Minnesota.  She wasn't                                                               
hired back until September. She had  to pack up her classroom and                                                               
do the same  thing the next year. The third  year she became more                                                               
involved  in  government  and  become   an  advocate  for  public                                                               
education.  She knows  the impact  of receiving  a pink  slip. It                                                               
creates chaos  with school districts.  When she was  pink slipped                                                               
in the  past, there  were many applicants  for positions  and now                                                               
there  are not.  The  shortage  of teachers  is  real across  the                                                               
country.  For Alaska  to sustain  the education  environment they                                                               
must be proactive.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SMITH  said  she  also wanted  to  address  Senator  Birch's                                                               
comment  about using  technology for  distance education.  Before                                                               
they  look at  technology  as  a way  to  support districts,  ask                                                               
students how it feels  to be put in front of  computers. She is a                                                               
special  education teacher  for  K-8 students  who struggle  with                                                               
reading, writing, and  math. They get tired of being  in front of                                                               
a computer too long. They like  being with a teacher. They should                                                               
think about talking to students about technology.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  her  whether she  would  say that  distance                                                               
learning  is  valuable   in  some  cases  but   doesn't  fit  all                                                               
situations and all students.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SMITH answered absolutely.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:24:10 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BIRCH asked what year she received her first pink slip.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SMITH replied in 1989.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH said he remembers that.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SMITH said he was on the borough assembly then.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said he couldn't  tell her  how happy he  was that                                                               
she persevered and stayed in Alaska.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  said in  the  last  year  or  two they  had  two                                                               
presentations  on  distance  learning  as part  of  a  bipartisan                                                               
omnibus bill to  improve education. The testimony  in Florida and                                                               
New York  made it  clear that  a capable teacher  must be  in the                                                               
room.  Distance learning  is for  bringing  content experts  that                                                               
would  not otherwise  be available.  It  is never  the intent  to                                                               
replace  classroom teacher.  That  was said  on  the record  many                                                               
times.  The  idea is  to  enhance  the  classroom as  opposed  to                                                               
replacing classroom teachers.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH said his children got  a great start as Pearl Creek                                                               
puffins in  the Fairbanks  North Star Borough.  That was  a great                                                               
launch to a great education background.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. SMITH said she was at Nordale, they were the Nordale tigers.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:26:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRISTINE   VILLANO,   National   Education   Association-Alaska,                                                               
Fairbanks,  Alaska,  supported  SJR  9. She  said  she  has  been                                                               
involved in  education for 40  years. She taught in  rural Alaska                                                               
is St Mary's, the Lower Yukon  and Kuskokwim area. She taught for                                                               
decades in  Fairbanks, mostly  at Denali  Elementary. As  a young                                                               
mother  she  advocated with  the  Parent  Teacher Association  to                                                               
Senator Birch  in the  borough assembly to  keep Joy  School open                                                               
and to rebuild of the school.  She has a passion for education as                                                               
a parent, grandparent,  and teacher leader. One  of her daughters                                                               
teaches special  education in Shishmaref  and one is  a scientist                                                               
at  the  University of  Alaska  Fairbanks  and does  outreach  in                                                               
classrooms.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VILLANO  said that in  her experience budget  stability leads                                                               
districts and educators  to focus on the core  mission of student                                                               
success  and  support. As  a  village  teacher,  it is  not  only                                                               
important to build  relationships with kids, but  also with their                                                               
families and community. That is  true in towns also. In Fairbanks                                                               
she sees  people she has  known for years. Senator  Kawasaki came                                                               
to her  Girl Scout troop  with his sister. Relationships  are the                                                               
core  of good  education. When  she  was at  Denali, she  started                                                               
teaching kids  of kids. They knew  and trusted her. She  was pink                                                               
slipped as  a beginning  educator. It makes  people want  to quit                                                               
and  leave  the  state  or   profession.  Now  with  the  teacher                                                               
shortage, the best and brightest  will leave, especially as there                                                               
is  not a  good retirement  system. One  of the  teachers of  the                                                               
year, who she has known since he  was a kid, told her he is going                                                               
to leave  Alaska because he does  not have a good  retirement. He                                                               
is in  his mid-30s and that  gives her concern for  the future of                                                               
Alaska.  When she  was pink  slipped,  she was  very worried  and                                                               
concerned,  and  that ripples  down  to  kids.  That is  why  she                                                               
supports SJR 9.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH  said teachers achieve  tenure on the first  day of                                                               
the  fourth year.  He  asked  if pink  slips  are  only given  to                                                               
nontenured teachers.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. VILLANO  said her understanding  is that  nontenured teachers                                                               
are pink  slipped first  and then tenured  teachers can  get pink                                                               
slipped.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:38:15 AM                                                                                                                   
ERIC  PETERSON,  President,   Alaska  Association  of  Elementary                                                               
School  Principals,  Principal,  Paul  Banks  Elementary  School,                                                               
Homer,  Alaska, supported  SJR 9.  He said  early funding  is the                                                               
most  important topic  in  the budget  discussion.  He has  three                                                               
teachers without contracts  for next year because  of not knowing                                                               
what the funding will be for next  year. His fear is that he will                                                               
lose  them.  As a  principal,  he  invests  a  lot into  his  new                                                               
teachers, but they may be taking  those skills and knowledge to a                                                               
new city  or state. If funding  does come after he  has dismissed                                                               
these teachers,  he fears will  be hiring  in the summer.  In the                                                               
past when  he has had to  hire in the summer,  the candidate pool                                                               
gets shallow  very quickly.  Most importantly,  without knowledge                                                               
about funding and  who will be teaching in the  school, he cannot                                                               
build classrooms for  next year. That pushes all  that work until                                                               
the fall. He  loses a window of opportunity for  his students. He                                                               
has  a Title  1  school  and has  high-needs  students. They  are                                                               
deliberate  about who  they  put  where. When  he  knows who  the                                                               
teachers are,  they can start  building relationships  with those                                                               
high-needs  students.  That  practice reduces  fear  in  students                                                               
because they  know where they  will be  next year. His  school is                                                               
also a  special education magnet  school with  an intensive-needs                                                               
preschool. In the  spring there are transition  meetings. When he                                                               
has early  funding, they can  meet with parents and  build teams.                                                               
It helps  relationships and builds  trust. Many teachers  will do                                                               
activities  in summer  and invite  those students.  People assume                                                               
the school year starts in the  fall, but it starts in the spring.                                                               
From a principal standpoint, not  being able to answer parent and                                                               
community  questions  doesn't allow  him  to  build trusting  and                                                               
relationships  as much  as  he can.  He asks  them  to fund  them                                                               
early.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:42:04 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID NEESE, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, supported SJR                                                               
9. It is a good component  because it reinforces the Judge Sharon                                                               
Gleason's  comments in  the Moore  vs. State  of Alaska  decision                                                               
that education  in Alaska is K-12  in nature. That is  not in the                                                               
constitution. With mandatory education  beginning at age seven it                                                               
is  good  to  clarify  that. The  information  in  the  committee                                                               
packets is eye opening. The history  of the budget shows that for                                                               
the most  part the  legislature has  missed the  May 1  date that                                                               
this proposes.  The main problem  is AS 14.14.060, as  Dr. Parady                                                               
pointed out, which requires that  the budget must be submitted by                                                               
May 1. They have a hold  harmless clause for funding schools, but                                                               
not for teachers. They would not  have that problem if they put a                                                               
hold  harm clause  in AS  14.14.060 that  districts will  have to                                                               
continue sending their state funding  into the teacher positions.                                                               
They could  move it  to a  later date,  but many  testifiers have                                                               
pointed out  that the school year  ends in May and  many teachers                                                               
are looking for  where they are going to be  next year. Hiring in                                                               
June is not good. Pink slips  would be eliminated if they added a                                                               
hold harmless clause  that said if the budget is  not resolved by                                                               
a certain  date, school districts  will keep employing  people in                                                               
the same  round as last  year. He appreciated the  testimony from                                                               
the people in  the education industry. He asked if  anyone in the                                                               
committee received funds  from NEA. If so, they  should declare a                                                               
conflict. He is  glad that Senator Costello  brought this forward                                                               
to make sure that the constitution says that education is K-12.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said he did not  receive campaign funds from NEA in                                                               
his last election.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:46:00 AM                                                                                                                   
DIANNE    SHIBE,    President,    Matanuska-Susistna    Education                                                               
Association, Wasilla,  Alaska, supported SJR 9.  She said forward                                                               
funding is an  anomaly in this state. That  makes this resolution                                                               
imperative to  reduce the  guessing game and  the chaos  that too                                                               
often  ensues in  districts every  spring. This  uncertainty does                                                               
not  help  make  teaching  an  attractive  profession,  which  is                                                               
essential to  improving the  education system  in Alaska  so they                                                               
quit  losing   teachers  and  incurring  the   cost  of  constant                                                               
recruitment,  which  are  funds  that could  be  going  into  the                                                               
classroom.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:46:53 AM                                                                                                                   
DAN CARSTENS,  President, Alaska Association of  Secondary School                                                               
Principals,  Principal,  Nikiski   Middle-High  School,  Nikiski,                                                               
Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said he  experiences the  need for                                                               
forward funding on  a yearly basis. The reality of  pink slips is                                                               
that if a  contract is not offered to a  nontenured teacher, they                                                               
automatically receive  a contract on  their last day of  work, so                                                               
what happens is by the middle  of May, they will receive a letter                                                               
saying they  are nonretained due  to cause or nonretained  due to                                                               
budget. They have a lot of  teachers now who will not be retained                                                               
due to budget.  Most do not come back.   His district must submit                                                               
a district by  April or May. Historically they  have not received                                                               
a budget  from the state.  Principals have the task  of preparing                                                               
different  scenarios with  different  pupil-teacher ratios.  They                                                               
prepare  an initial  budget  with no  idea if  that  will be  the                                                               
actual  budget. When  nontenured  teachers  leave, often  tenured                                                               
teachers teach in  content areas they are not  certified in. This                                                               
is permissible because  as long as a teacher is  teaching over 50                                                               
percent  in the  content area,  the  teacher can  teach in  other                                                               
areas if working toward certification in that area.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARSTENS  said every spring  they ask kids what  classes they                                                               
want to  take next year, but  there is no guarantee  of what they                                                               
will  be  able to  offer.  Students  have  to  make five  or  six                                                               
choices.  It  is  difficult to  schedule  fall  classes.  Forward                                                               
funding would  let them know  what they  are looking at  and what                                                               
staff they have. That is huge for planning for subsequent years.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:51:52 AM                                                                                                                   
SHAWN  ARNOLD,  Superintendent,   Valdez  City  Schools,  Valdez,                                                               
Alaska, supported  SJR 9.  He said he  is president-elect  of the                                                               
Alaska Superintendents Association. ISER  research from last year                                                               
shows  that  it  cost  a   district  $20,000  for  every  teacher                                                               
turnover.   He   saw   that  impact   firsthand   when   he   was                                                               
superintendent of  Nome for four  years. Nome averaged  about ten                                                               
to 15 teachers  a year. Recruitment and training  of new teachers                                                               
was a significant cost for the district.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. ARNOLD  said he does a  lot of research into  other education                                                               
systems.  Many comparisons  are made  to Finland,  and one  thing                                                               
Finland  does   right  is  forward   fund.  That   makes  funding                                                               
predictable  and timely.  There is  no discussion  of cuts  every                                                               
year.  A  general principle  of  effective  funding of  education                                                               
systems across the globe is  ensuring that funds are allocated in                                                               
a transparent  and predictable way.  The value  of predictability                                                               
for Alaska  school districts cannot  be overstated.  When funding                                                               
levels are  obscure, complicated,  and unstable, they  are forced                                                               
into bad  behaviors. It takes  more than  two to three  months to                                                               
comprehensively  evaluate  spending,  reflect  on  progress,  and                                                               
develop new budgets,  yet they are forced to wait  for final cuts                                                               
to be  handed down from  the legislature before  finalizing their                                                               
local budgets.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ARNOLD  said  that  if   districts  are  expected  to  spend                                                               
responsibly, they need to be  given the time to plan accordingly.                                                               
Equally important, legislators need  the ability to project state                                                               
investments  years into  the future  for  sound debt  management.                                                               
Strategic  thinking   and  long-term  planning  are   central  to                                                               
successful  governments and  complex  education systems.  Timely,                                                               
reliable,  and  predictable  funding  of  future  resource  needs                                                               
ensures the education system  long-term fiscal sustainability and                                                               
development of clear implementation  paths for education reforms,                                                               
such  as the  Alaska  Education  Challenge. Forecasting  resource                                                               
needs  in education  involves anticipating  developments and  the                                                               
demand  for  services  across   different  education  levels  and                                                               
sectors  as well  as their  implications for  human, pedagogical,                                                               
fiscal   and  financial   resource   needs.   By  providing   for                                                               
predictable funding for  K-12 schools, they are  investing in the                                                               
economic future of the state and the children.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:56:44 AM                                                                                                                   
PETE  HOEPFNER, School  Board  Member,  Cordova School  District,                                                               
Cordova, Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said creating  a separate                                                               
education budget will let school  districts budget with certainty                                                               
and predictability. In the past  education was forward funded for                                                               
multiple  years. At  one point  they had  three years  of forward                                                               
funding. Over the  last few years education funding  has not been                                                               
determined  until late  in the  session, leading  to uncertainty.                                                               
The present  teacher shortage in  the nation and  the uncertainty                                                               
in  Alaska does  not create  a healthy  work environment.  School                                                               
districts need reliable and known funding.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:58:05 AM                                                                                                                   
ROY  GETCHELL, Superintendent,  Haines  Borough School  District,                                                               
Haines, Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said Haines  is a  Title 1                                                               
school, but one of the highest  performing ones in the state. One                                                               
of the reasons  is that they have high-quality  teachers who have                                                               
been there  a while.  In Haines  and across  Alaska, kids  are in                                                               
classrooms  and  teachers  are teaching.  The  routines  continue                                                               
while  the debates  go on  about their  future. The  yearly angst                                                               
created by not knowing what programs  will be cut or funded, jobs                                                               
lost  or gained,  strategic plans  implemented or  shelved, is  a                                                               
dilemma for school districts. It  is impossible to properly plan.                                                               
It is bad for morale  and requires reaction vs. strategy. Putting                                                               
aside  the  devastating  cuts,  SJR   9  would  help  with  their                                                               
strategic plan  of wanting to  hire another math teacher  to give                                                               
students higher math options. That  aligns with what the governor                                                               
talked  about  in his  campaign  and  with the  Alaska  Education                                                               
Challenge.  But  due  to  the  uncertainty  they  face  now  with                                                               
funding, that option is off the  table. In 1991 he was at Captain                                                               
Cook Hotel at  the Alaska teacher job fair with  3,500 others. He                                                               
didn't get  a job, and this  is his first opportunity  to work in                                                               
Alaska. He  worked overseas  for the  United Arab  Emirates. That                                                               
country  is  probably  importing  a  thousand  or  more  American                                                               
teachers a year. That pales  in comparison to other countries who                                                               
value American  training and are  promoting English in  their own                                                               
systems.  They are  facing a  two-headed  monster of  predictable                                                               
funding and being able to recruit and retain the best.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:01:11 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICK    MAYER,   President,    Alaska   Council    of   School                                                               
Administrators,   Superintendent,    Yakutat   School   District,                                                               
Yakutat,  Alaska, supported  SJR  9. He  said  it is  exceedingly                                                               
important  for school  districts  to have  timely, reliable,  and                                                               
predictable  revenues for  schools. This  is a  key component  of                                                               
their  2019 joint  position  statement.  School districts  cannot                                                               
operate  efficiently   and  effectively  without   knowing  their                                                               
revenues. Yakutat operates  on a thin financial  margin, as other                                                               
small school  districts do.  They have  one teaching  position to                                                               
fill this year.  That is 16 percent of their  certified staff. It                                                               
is  difficult to  make the  decision to  go forward  with a  hire                                                               
because of  the governor's budget  proposal. Staff costs  make up                                                               
the  majority   of  a  school  district's   budget.  The  current                                                               
situation  suggests  a   particularly  protracted  timeframe  for                                                               
budget finality  and now is the  hiring season. They will  try to                                                               
hire the one teacher if they  can find one. Filling this position                                                               
is with  some risk.  They are  going to roll  the dice.  He asked                                                               
them  to  please   take  the  issue  of   timely,  reliable,  and                                                               
predictable funding  seriously. Early notification of  funding is                                                               
crucial to  sound financial management  as well as  to recruiting                                                               
and   retaining   qualified  educators.   Stabilizing   districts                                                               
budgetarily will  improve student achievement. This  is all about                                                               
what is best  for Alaska's students. He also wanted  to note that                                                               
the bandwidth  disparity is  a huge  equity issue.  Getting rural                                                               
districts enhanced bandwidth would be phenomenal.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:04:50 AM                                                                                                                   
JILL SHOWMAN,  representing self,  Palmer, Alaska,  supported SJR                                                               
9. She  said she is a  teacher who is not  concerned about losing                                                               
her  position,  but several  of  her  colleagues are.  Nontenured                                                               
teachers get  nervous this time  of year because they  don't know                                                               
if they  will have a  position next  year. Mat-Su will  not issue                                                               
contracts to  nontenured teachers  until the  budget is  set. The                                                               
anxiety of the  new teachers is real and  affects their community                                                               
and comes  into the classroom. She  moved from Iowa in  1997. She                                                               
was  pink slipped  three years  in a  row when  she lived  in the                                                               
Kenai. She chose  to stay, but others left. Alaska  lost a lot of                                                               
great  teachers.   They  can't  afford   to  do  that   with  the                                                               
uncertainty at  UAA. She also  taught an education class  for the                                                               
University of Alaska  Southeast about a decade ago.  At that time                                                               
the  highest  enrollment  in  her   class,  which  was  the  last                                                               
curricular class for teachers  entering elementary education, was                                                               
12 to  13 teachers. They know  they have to recruit  from Outside                                                               
and  retain those  candidates.  It is  easier  to retain  current                                                               
staff than  recruit new candidates.  They are not  only competing                                                               
with the U.S. but with international schools.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said the UAA  regents are considering the  loss of                                                               
accreditation now. He  is convinced they will find  a solution by                                                               
using other campuses.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:08:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CONNIE  NEWMAN, Superintendent,  Iditarod  Area School  District,                                                               
McGrath,  Alaska,  supported  SJR  9.  She  said  Iditarod  is  a                                                               
Regional  Education  Attendance  Area  in the  heart  of  Alaska.                                                               
Forward  funding enhances  recruitment  and  retention of  highly                                                               
qualified staff,  supporting student success in  school and life.                                                               
She was  pink slipped in  her first  year in education  in Idaho.                                                               
She left and  did not return. Teacher turnover is  a challenge in                                                               
the  Iditarod Area  School District.  They started  recruiting in                                                               
January  and  February  last  year   to  get  their  staff.  They                                                               
anticipate  losing 11  positions,  more than  54  percent of  the                                                               
district teaching staff.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  he  realized that  receiving  a  pink  slip                                                               
creates great  anxiety. He commented  about remarkable it  was to                                                               
hear how many of the testifiers had been pink slipped.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:09:59 AM                                                                                                                   
BRIDGET  WEISS, Ph.D.,  Superintendent,  Juneau School  District,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska, supported  SJR  9.  She said  she  was born  and                                                               
raised in Juneau.  She spent the first 26 years  of her career in                                                               
Washington. She  came back to  Alaska and was principal  of North                                                               
Pole High  School for four  years. She brought teachers  on board                                                               
who  worked effectively  with existing  staff and  energized that                                                               
system. She  was put in a  position of sitting face  to face with                                                               
new, effective teachers  and telling them they might  not be back                                                               
in August. That became so  detrimental to young teachers starting                                                               
their careers. Before becoming superintendent  in Juneau, she was                                                               
director of student services in  Juneau and supported the special                                                               
education  program.  Looking at  teacher  openings  in the  state                                                               
shows that  year after  year they are  desperate to  fill special                                                               
education  positions. That  is one  of the  most challenging  and                                                               
crucial positions  to fill.  The type  of vulnerability  makes it                                                               
hard to  recruit. For  a whole  family to move,  there must  be a                                                               
perspective of state  stability. SJR 9 is a  critical lifeline to                                                               
make that possible.  There are so many  interconnected pieces and                                                               
critical  overlays.   This  is  connected  to   so  many  pieces.                                                               
Attracting and  retaining quality  educators is strongly  tied to                                                               
this. It is  one of the Juneau's school board  initiatives. It is                                                               
a legislative  priority for  the administrators'  association. It                                                               
is critical to work they  are doing around student achievement in                                                               
Alaska.  Most of  the school  districts  in Washington  increased                                                               
their  teacher   salaries  from   five  to  18   percent  through                                                               
legislative action.  That makes it  harder to compete.  They have                                                               
to  have  a desirable  environment  economically  to provide  the                                                               
opportunities  for people  to  come and  fill  their most  needed                                                               
positions.  What they  do in  education is  the lifeline  for the                                                               
state, for their  future, their economy. Many  students return to                                                               
Alaska, like  her, or  stay and  contribute to  their communities                                                               
and economies.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:14:48 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[CHAIR STEVENS held SJR 9 in committee.]                                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_BillText_VersionA.PDF SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
02_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SponsorStatement_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
04_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote01_DEED_Foundation.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
05_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote02_DEED_PubEdFund.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
06_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Constitutional References.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
07_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_AK Budget Passage History_22Jan2018.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
08_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Ed Budget Timelines_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
09_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_LAA Legal Memo_19Feb2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
10_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_CAEPR_Teacher Turnover Costs.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
11_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_Costello_Press Release_06March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
12_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_ASCA_08March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
13_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_AASB_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 11
SJR 9
14_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_NEA_12March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9
15_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportEmails_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SJR 9