Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106

03/04/2020 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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08:02:45 AM Start
08:03:45 AM HB236
10:03:52 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 4, 2020                                                                                          
                           8:02 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Representative Mike Prax                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 236                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to education; increasing the base student                                                                      
allocation; and providing for an effective date."                                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 236                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: INCREASE BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) STORY                                                                                             
02/05/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/05/20       (H)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
02/26/20       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
02/26/20       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/26/20       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/04/20       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MARY HAKALA, Staff                                                                                                              
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 236 on behalf of                                                                            
Representative Story, prime sponsor.                                                                                            
DEENA BISHOP, Ed.D. Superintendent                                                                                              
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
MEILA NEELEY, Student                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
KRISTIN RUTLEDGE                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
KAY ANDREWS, President                                                                                                          
Southwest Region School District School Board                                                                                   
Alaknagik, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
ROBIN JONES, President                                                                                                          
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP)                                                                       
New Stuyahok, Alaska                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
PATRICK MAYER, Superintendent                                                                                                   
Aleutians East Borough School District                                                                                          
Sand Point, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
JIM ANDERSON, CFO                                                                                                               
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
PEGGY COWAN                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
TOM KLAAMEYER, President                                                                                                        
Anchorage Education Association                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
PENNY VADLA, President                                                                                                          
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education                                                                      
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
DEENA MITCHELL, Board Member                                                                                                    
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
BETH SHORT RHOADS                                                                                                               
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
ANDY HOLLOMAN                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
MARGO BELLAMY, Board Member                                                                                                     
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
SEAN CONE                                                                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
CRIS EICHENLAUB                                                                                                                 
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 236.                                                                       
HERMAN MORGAN                                                                                                                   
Aniak, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of HB 236.                                                                       
RALPH WATKINS, Superintendent                                                                                                   
Hoonah City School District                                                                                                     
Hoonah, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
SEANNA O'SULLIVAN                                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
BILL BJORK                                                                                                                      
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 236.                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:02:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY called  the  House  Education Standing  Committee                                                             
meeting to  order at 8:02  a.m.  Representatives  Prax, Zulkosky,                                                               
Hopkins,  Tuck, and  Story were  present  at the  call to  order.                                                               
Representative Drummond arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                               
            HB 236-INCREASE BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                         
[Contains discussion of HB 181.]                                                                                                
8:03:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 236 "An Act relating  to education; increasing                                                               
the  base  student allocation;  and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
CO-CHAIR STORY, as  prime sponsor, presented HB 236.   She stated                                                               
that HB 236 would amend  the Base Student Allocation (BSA), which                                                               
she  described as  a key  element  in determining  the amount  of                                                               
state education  funding.  She  explained that under HB  236, the                                                               
fiscal year 2021 (FY 21) the  BSA amount per pupil would increase                                                               
by $115;  it would incorporate  the FY 20 $30  million allocation                                                               
into the formula, and the FY 22  BSA would increase by $110.  She                                                               
explained  that the  amounts were  derived using  a 2.25  percent                                                               
increase, which is  the standard inflation proofing  rate used by                                                               
the Alaska  Permanent Fund Corporation  in its projections.   She                                                               
noted that the two increases in  HB 236 represent flat funding on                                                               
FY 21, and  inflation adjusted spending in FY 22.   She explained                                                               
that  should HB  236 fail  to pass,  Alaska schools  and students                                                               
would endure a reduction of $30 million in funding.                                                                             
8:05:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY  HAKALA,  Staff,  Representative Andi  Story,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  provided  information  on   HB  236  on  behalf  of                                                               
Representative  Story, prime  sponsor.   She  explained that  the                                                               
items  included  in  the  committee   packet  include  a  revised                                                               
sectional analysis  correcting a  typographical error;  a revised                                                               
school  funding background  document  correcting a  typographical                                                               
error; and an analysis of  funding for public education published                                                               
by the  University of Alaska,  Anchorage Institute on  Social and                                                               
Economic Research  (ISER).  She  noted that the  committee packet                                                               
also included public testimony submitted  by 75 individuals.  She                                                               
expressed that  any additional written testimony  provided for HB
236  would  be  distributed  to  the  committee.    She  remained                                                               
available to answer any questions.                                                                                              
8:07:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY announced  that the  committee would  hear public                                                               
testimony [originally opened on 2/26/20] on HB 236.                                                                             
8:07:25 AM                                                                                                                    
DEENA  BISHOP, Ed.D.  Superintendent, Anchorage  School District,                                                               
testified in  support of HB  236.  She  stated that HB  236 would                                                               
provide  the first  increase  to  BSA since  FY  16/17, and  that                                                               
inflationary  costs coupled  with flat  funding have  resulted in                                                               
challenges  to   maintaining  class  size  and   student  outcome                                                               
strategic  plan execution.    She noted  that  funds received  in                                                               
addition to the BSA have softened  the impacts of flat funding of                                                               
the BSA; however, one-time funding  has created uncertainty.  She                                                               
explained  that  the  Anchorage   School  District  (ASD)  budget                                                               
deadline  takes  place in  early  March,  which necessitates  the                                                               
Anchorage  School Board  to  adopt  a budget  in  February.   She                                                               
explained  that  increased  demands  on ASD,  including  that  of                                                               
special  education, had  resulted  in cuts  to general  education                                                               
programs.    She noted  that  ASD  had  used  27 percent  of  its                                                               
available reserves  in an attempt to  maintain services; however,                                                               
the  community  expectation  of   ASD  is  that  students  should                                                               
demonstrate growth.   She  explained that  ASD is  endeavoring to                                                               
identify efficiencies and realize  cost savings wherever possible                                                               
and has made cuts to all programs apart from special education.                                                                 
DR.  BISHOP   cautioned  against   the  public   perception  that                                                               
administrative  costs  at  ASD  are  too  high,  noting  cuts  to                                                               
administrative  costs have  resulted in  a compromised  strategic                                                               
execution  of  programs  designed to  increase  positive  student                                                               
outcomes.   She  expressed  her dedication  to improving  student                                                               
outcomes   as    a   priority   including    accountability   and                                                               
transparency.  She  suggested that when compared  to other school                                                               
districts  in  Alaska and  to  the  nations  100  largest  school                                                               
districts,  ASD   administrative  costs   are  prudent   and  not                                                               
excessive.   She  indicated that  uncertainty  and reductions  to                                                               
funding  had  necessitated  prioritization of  cuts  to  programs                                                               
rather than  prioritization of implementation of  strategic plans                                                               
for improvement.                                                                                                                
8:11:10 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP urged  legislators  to  support HB  236  in order  to                                                               
invest in the education of children.   She noted that the passing                                                               
of HB  236 would  provide stability  in funding  so that  ASD can                                                               
plan  for the  best possible  program execution  and produce  the                                                               
best possible student  outcomes.  She expressed  her gratitude to                                                               
the [bill  sponsor] and extolled increased  funding for education                                                               
as courageous.                                                                                                                  
8:11:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND referred  to Dr.  Bishops  comments  comparing                                                               
ASD to  the 100  largest school districts  across the  nation and                                                               
asked  her to  provide  additional information  that would  offer                                                               
context of spending levels.                                                                                                     
8:12:25 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.   BISHOP  suggested   that   due  to   economies  of   scale,                                                               
administrative costs in education in  Alaska are among the lowest                                                               
in the  nation.  She  offered to  provide the committee  with the                                                               
source  material  to  which  she  referred  that  depicts  Alaska                                                               
spending below the nations largest 100 districts mean.                                                                          
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked whether  the source  of the  material is                                                               
Great City Schools.                                                                                                             
DR.  BISHOP  confirmed  and explained  that  Great  City  Schools                                                               
represents the 100 largest school districts in the nation.                                                                      
8:13:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY   asked  for  additional   information  regarding                                                               
administrative cost control at ASD.                                                                                             
8:13:26 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. BISHOP  explained that administrative costs  include payroll,                                                               
and  during  the preceding  six  years,  ASD  has realized  a  17                                                               
percent reduction  in administration  costs.  She  explained that                                                               
the costs  include receiving and distributing  materials to 3,600                                                               
teachers in the  district and organization and  feeding of 25,000                                                               
students   per  day.     She   emphasized   that  perception   of                                                               
administrative costs may  be  someone sitting up in  a big, fancy                                                               
mahogany desk somewhere  and  refuted this perception, indicating                                                               
that  administrative  costs pertain  to  the  execution of  large                                                               
programs  that  occur  directly  in  schools.    She  added  that                                                               
administration  also covers  monitoring  student  outcomes.   She                                                               
welcomed review  of the data  reporting on use  of administration                                                               
cost funds.                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  STORY  asked  how  ASD would  plan  to  deliver  health                                                               
education  and  Social  and Emotional  Learning  (SEL)  standards                                                               
through  health educators  and indicated  her understanding  that                                                               
the number of health educators continues to be reduced.                                                                         
8:15:48 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP emphasized  that students   health, including  mental                                                               
health,  is a  top priority  and would  not be  jeopardized as  a                                                               
result of  funding shortages.  She  explained that SEL in  ASD is                                                               
not  conducted through  health teachers  but  is instead  infused                                                               
into  every teacher,  bus driver,  and  personnel that  encounter                                                               
students.  She  indicated that reduction in funding  results in a                                                               
reduction  of  available  resources   and  additional  demand  on                                                               
individual teachers in classrooms as a result.                                                                                  
8:17:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked  Dr. Bishop  to  briefly  discuss  what                                                               
measures ASD is taking to  ensure the safety of the approximately                                                               
47,000  students  and 600  district  employees  in light  of  the                                                               
Coronavirus [Covid-19 pandemic].                                                                                                
8:18:22 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP explained  that the  most controversial  decision had                                                               
been a  travel restriction, which  was made in  consultation with                                                               
health officials.   She explained that the  priorities that shape                                                               
ASD  travel  decisions  are  staff  and  student  infection  rate                                                               
reduction  and protecting  against the  uncertainty of  travelers                                                               
being  able to  return  home.   She  explained  that  there is  a                                                               
difference  in decisions  that  may  be weighed  by  a parent  as                                                               
compared  with  decisions that  must  be  weighed by  the  school                                                               
district, which  operates  in loco  parentis,  which  she defined                                                               
as  a  caretaker  and  like  a parent.    She explained  that the                                                               
risk assessment,  including uncertainties  going forward,  led to                                                               
the decision to restrict planned  travel in the district for over                                                               
1,000 students and chaperones.   She added that because one-sixth                                                               
of the  population of  Anchorage enters  ASD premises  every day,                                                               
public  health   is  a  major  consideration   and  cleaning  and                                                               
disinfecting sites including charter schools is a priority.                                                                     
8:21:05 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP  added  that schools  are  teaching  students  proper                                                               
handwashing techniques.   She explained that ASD  is working with                                                               
officials on multiple levels  to create decision-making framework                                                               
and protocols related to infection  detection and containment and                                                               
logistical planning such as for  transportation of students.  She                                                               
added that while  the travel ban has been  an unpopular decision,                                                               
ASD has elected to prioritize  safety of students, staff, and the                                                               
larger community.                                                                                                               
8:22:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  indicated  that the  [conversation  regarding                                                               
pandemic  preparedness]  should take  place  in  more detail  and                                                               
suggested  that the  House Health  and Social  Services Committee                                                               
would  be an  appropriate  venue for  that  conversation to  take                                                               
place in the near future.                                                                                                       
8:22:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  expressed his sympathy for  districts facing                                                               
difficult   and  complex   decisions  and   suggested  that   the                                                               
legislature is  faced with a  similar dilemma.  He  asked whether                                                               
there exists a  documented list of mandated tasks  from which the                                                               
district creates actions.                                                                                                       
8:23:34 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP indicated  that one  example could  be the  10 health                                                               
standards proposed  under HB 181, which  exemplify the increasing                                                               
mandates for  teachers in the  classroom.  She remarked  that the                                                               
school   day  had   not  lengthened   despite  the   increase  of                                                               
performance mandates.   She  offered to  compile and  provide the                                                               
list  requested  by Representative  Prax  and  cautioned that  it                                                               
would be lengthy.                                                                                                               
8:24:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  asked Dr.  Bishop  to  provide some  demographic                                                               
information for ASD student population.                                                                                         
8:25:00 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP   explained  that  demographically,  60   percent  of                                                               
students in ASD  are nonwhite.  She lauded the  diversity of over                                                               
100 languages spoken throughout the  district.  She estimated the                                                               
mobility of  students in  the district  between 4075   percent of                                                               
families at any  given time relocating within the  district.  She                                                               
highlighted  that   many  high-potential  students   are  English                                                               
Language Learners  (ELL) who come  to the school district  with a                                                               
variety of  existing education levels  and first languages.   She                                                               
noted that  poverty can range from  40 to 100 percent  in various                                                               
schools and many  students require food programs.   She suggested                                                               
that ASD  is unique  as  urban  among  other districts  in Alaska                                                               
and  is  challenged  by  issues  that  may  not  occur  in  rural                                                               
8:28:10 AM                                                                                                                    
MEILA  NEELEY, Student,  testified in  support  of HB  236.   She                                                               
requested the proposed  increase in BSA to  help alleviate issues                                                               
such  as increasing  class size.   She  indicated that  her class                                                               
consists  of   32  students  and  suggested   that  teachers  and                                                               
substitutes do not have adequate  time for much needed individual                                                               
instruction.  She explained that  some of her peers require extra                                                               
instruction  in SEL.    She also  suggested  that schools  should                                                               
increase resources for art classes  and indicated her ambition to                                                               
become  an  artist.   She  expressed  her  concern that  art  and                                                               
culture programs will be cut.                                                                                                   
8:30:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked Miss  Neely to  provide her  age, grade,                                                               
and school name to the committee.                                                                                               
8:30:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MISS NEELY  stated that she is  nine years of age,  in the fourth                                                               
grade at Say?ik Gastineau Elementary School [in Juneau, Alaska].                                                                
8:30:44 AM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN RUTLEDGE testified  in support of HB 236.   She described                                                               
herself as a  public school student and now mother  of school age                                                               
children in  Alaska.   She recounted her  experience at  a recent                                                               
ASD  board  meeting,  which  she   described  as  five  hours  of                                                               
testimony  that was  difficult and  frustrating to  endure.   She                                                               
criticized  the  proposed  use of  public  funds  for  individual                                                               
supplemental  [Alaska Permanent  Fund] dividends  instead of  for                                                               
the purpose  of funding  education.  She  criticized ASD  cuts to                                                               
health education  programs, emphasizing the importance  of health                                                               
education, especially  under circumstances  of a  growing [Covid-                                                               
19]  pandemic.   She criticized  cuts  to classroom  time at  all                                                               
grade  levels   and  cuts  to   University  of   Alaska  funding,                                                               
suggesting  that  public education  in  Alaska  is inadequate  to                                                               
maintain a professional workforce  and population.  She expressed                                                               
her  support   for  diversification  of  state   revenue  sources                                                               
including taxes.  She urged support of HB 236.                                                                                  
8:32:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked Ms.  Rutledge  to  identify areas  of                                                               
spending that  she would  recommend cutting  in favor  of funding                                                               
public education.                                                                                                               
MS.  RUTLEDGE   suggested  that  paying  Alaska   Permanent  Fund                                                               
Dividends seems  anathema to enduring  more cuts to  services and                                                               
suggested that  funding for  programs should  not be  further cut                                                               
and instead  the state should  seek alternate sources  of revenue                                                               
as opposed to an attempt to live within a shrinking means.                                                                      
8:34:08 AM                                                                                                                    
KAY ANDREWS,  President, Southwest Region School  District School                                                               
Board,  testified in  support  of  HB 236.    She suggested  that                                                               
children in  Alaska are the  states  most valuable asset  for the                                                               
future.    She described  cost  increases  that Southwest  Region                                                               
School   District  has   endured,   including  increased   health                                                               
insurance,  supplies, transportation  of goods,  and increase  in                                                               
costs of fuel oil and other  utilities.  She noted that increased                                                               
costs  such  as  those  result  in  direct  negative  impacts  on                                                               
students  in the  classroom.   She  explained  that schools  face                                                               
unprecedented and  increasing complex problems related  to trauma                                                               
and emphasized  a need for training  in trauma-informed practices                                                               
and  additional  school   counselors,  psychologists,  and  other                                                               
related professionals.                                                                                                          
8:36:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDREWS  explained  that  she   has  observed  children  and                                                               
communities  suffering  from  trauma,   and  that  reductions  to                                                               
funding  compromise  schools   ability  to  support  and  educate                                                               
children.    She  explained that  funds  distributed  to  schools                                                               
outside of the BSA formula  create complexities and the inability                                                               
to plan,  retain teachers,  and effectively  implement long-range                                                               
reading and other  strategic programs.  She urged  the support of                                                               
increase to the Foundation Formula  and BSA so that districts can                                                               
plan and execute programs.                                                                                                      
8:39:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND asked  Ms. Andrews  to describe  the geography                                                               
and number of students in her district.                                                                                         
MS. ANDREWS  explained that she  was located in the  community of                                                               
Alaknagik,  and  the  communities  within  the  Southwest  Region                                                               
School   District   include   Togiak,  Twin   Hills,   Manokotak,                                                               
Koliganek, New  Stuyahok, Ekwok,  and Clarks   Point.   She noted                                                               
that the  district had recently  closed Portage Creek  School due                                                               
to  lack of  student population.   She  noted that  Clarks  Point                                                               
School  had been  recently closed  and  re-opened with  community                                                               
support.  She explained that her  district has no art program and                                                               
no  school  nurses.   She  expressed  her concern  regarding  the                                                               
growing [Covid-19] pandemic and  noted that an emergency planning                                                               
meeting  for her  district  was planned  for  today; however,  no                                                               
health  professionals  are  available to  participate  at  school                                                               
sites.  She emphasized that  transportation of goods is extremely                                                               
challenging for  her district.   She expressed concern  over lack                                                               
of technology and infrastructure  should the district be required                                                               
to  shut  down.   She  extolled  the  support received  from  the                                                               
communities in her  district as well as support from  ASD and the                                                               
Alaska State  Legislature in  taking the  time to  understand the                                                               
unique issues  faced in her  district.  She encouraged  visits to                                                               
the communities  in her district  to directly observe  the unique                                                               
challenges as  well as key accomplishments  in educating children                                                               
and preparing them for life in Alaska.                                                                                          
8:45:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  expressed her  gratitude to  Ms. Andrews  for her                                                               
service and testimony.                                                                                                          
8:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBIN JONES,  President, Alaska  Association of  Secondary School                                                               
Principals (AASSP), testified  in support of HB 236  on behalf of                                                               
the  Alaska Council  of School  Administrators (ACSA)  and AASSP.                                                               
She urged  priority funding with  timely and  predictable revenue                                                               
so that schools  may execute all educational  programs and comply                                                               
with  all  mandates for  education.    She suggested  that  early                                                               
notification and  forward funding are crucial  to sound financial                                                               
management and  recruitment and  retention of  quality educators.                                                               
She suggested  that the  increase to  BSA as  proposed by  HB 236                                                               
would aid  in covering funding deficiencies  caused by inflation.                                                               
She  indicated that  increased costs  for goods  and services  as                                                               
well  as deferred  maintenance  projects  are depleting  existing                                                               
budgets.  She suggested that passing  HB 236 would aid in quality                                                               
teacher recruitment and retention.                                                                                              
8:48:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked Ms. Jones  to verify  the availability                                                               
of her contact info.                                                                                                            
8:48:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  JONES acknowledged  her  contact info  is  available to  the                                                               
committee  and  offered an  in-person  meeting  while she  is  in                                                               
Juneau   with   Representative   Prax   to   provide   additional                                                               
8:49:08 AM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  MAYER,  Superintendent,  Aleutians East  Borough  School                                                               
District,  testified in  support of  HB 236.   He  referenced the                                                               
ACSA joint position statement that  was provided to the committee                                                               
and emphasized that timely, reliable,  and predictable funding is                                                               
necessary   to  aid   in   quality   teacher  and   administrator                                                               
recruitment  and   retention.    He  offered   that  funding  for                                                               
education  has not  kept pace  with inflation.   He  acknowledged                                                               
that one-time  funding infusions  have been welcomed  by schools;                                                               
however,  he  suggested  that  [funds  received  outside  of  the                                                               
Foundation  Formula   and  BSA]  do  not   provide  stability  in                                                               
effective  recruitment  and  retention.   He  explained  that  in                                                               
Aleutians   East  Borough   School  District,   school  counselor                                                               
positions have  been eliminated, along with  a physical education                                                               
(P.E.)   teacher   and   a  librarian.      He   explained   that                                                               
extracurricular  activities have  been subject  to reorganization                                                               
and alignment  to expenditures and  revenues.  He  expressed that                                                               
the goals of  his district include expansion  of Career Technical                                                               
Education  (CTE),  drama  and  the   arts,  and  trauma  informed                                                               
practices.   He  indicated  that program  expansion with  current                                                               
staffing levels  would be  impossible.  He  suggested that  a BSA                                                               
increase  would be  timely in  aiding districts  to meet  program                                                               
needs and adhere to mandates.   He encouraged passing HB 236 as a                                                               
first  step  in increasing  funding  for  public education.    He                                                               
offered to provide  a list of unfunded mandates  to the committee                                                               
for its consideration.                                                                                                          
8:52:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY   asked  Mr.   Mayer  to   describe  the                                                               
demographics of his district.                                                                                                   
MR. MAYER responded that there  are four schools in the district:                                                               
Sand Point School,  populated by 114 students;  King Cove School,                                                               
populated  by 87  students;  False Pass  School,  populated by  7                                                               
students;  and  Akutan School,  populated  by  23 students.    He                                                               
indicated that the  district had recently closed  Cold Bay School                                                               
and it  is consolidating  the resources of  False Pass  School to                                                               
meet the ongoing needs of  those students affected by the closure                                                               
of Cold Bay  School.  He noted that the  student body consists of                                                               
87 percent Alaska  Native students and the poverty rate  is at 80                                                               
percent.   He acknowledged that  his district, as  other district                                                               
representatives  had  indicated  for  their  own,  has  room  for                                                               
improvement.  He  explained that the communities  in the district                                                               
are primarily  fishing industry communities with  commercial fish                                                               
processing  plants.   He noted  that Sand  Point fish  processing                                                               
facility had unexpectedly closed, impacting the community.                                                                      
8:54:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ZULKOSKY   referenced  his   earlier   testimony                                                               
regarding  BSA comparison  to  the rate  of  inflation and  asked                                                               
whether  the  data he  referenced  fully  reflected the  rate  of                                                               
inflation experienced in  rural areas and how  rural schools have                                                               
managed rising costs.                                                                                                           
MR. MAYER  allowed that  the data  to which  he had  referred did                                                               
pertain to  urban areas and  described the availability  of rural                                                               
inflation rate data as  elusive.    He opined with certainty that                                                               
rural inflation  rates would  logically be  higher than  in urban                                                               
areas due  to factors such  as transportation and fuel  costs and                                                               
higher costs  of goods and  services.   He noted that  impacts of                                                               
cuts  to   the  ferry  system   also  contribute   to  additional                                                               
challenges  including relocating  teachers.    He explained  that                                                               
rising costs  have resulted  in cuts  to eliminate  P.E. teachers                                                               
and  limiting electives  offered.   He noted  that school  nurses                                                               
have  been eliminated,  which is  cause  for concern  considering                                                               
[the Covid-19 pandemic response coordination].                                                                                  
8:57:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  recalled   previous  hearings  in  which                                                               
testimony was offered from a  school district that endured a cost                                                               
of over $100,000 as a result  of reductions in ferry service.  He                                                               
asked whether  Mr. Mayer  could estimate a  cost to  his district                                                               
associated with reduction in ferry  service for the committee and                                                               
provide the information to the House Transportation Committee.                                                                  
MR.  MAYER agreed  to research  and provide  a cost  estimate and                                                               
speculated the impacts had already  resulted in coordination with                                                               
freight  companies  to explore  options  to  close gaps  left  by                                                               
reduced ferry service.                                                                                                          
8:59:04 AM                                                                                                                    
JIM  ANDERSON,  CFO,  Anchorage  School  District,  testified  in                                                               
support  of  HB  236.    He  stated  that  87.4  percent  of  ASD                                                               
expenditure  is  for  personnel.   He  stated  that  since  2013,                                                               
student  enrollment has  declined by  6.8 percent  and staff  had                                                               
been reduced  by 9.9 percent  in the  same timeframe.   He stated                                                               
that  two  schools  have  been  closed,  two  schools  have  been                                                               
relocated, and that two additional  programs will be moved in the                                                               
coming year.  He assured that  any possible means of cost savings                                                               
is being  evaluated.  He noted  FY 13-19 medical costs  have been                                                               
reduced by 0.6  percent by contracting with a health  clinic.  He                                                               
predicted ongoing  savings in health  care costs.  He  noted that                                                               
ASD workers   compensation claims  have been  reduced by  over $2                                                               
million, or 45 percent, while legal  fees have been reduced by 44                                                               
percent.  He  cautioned that, despite cost  savings realized, the                                                               
reductions  are not  sufficient  to account  for  inflation.   He                                                               
explained  that  cost  increases have  occurred  in  electricity,                                                               
refuse, buildings and ground supplies, and insurance.                                                                           
9:01:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ANDERSON  explained that the  sunset of funds  provided under                                                               
House  Bill 287  [passed  into law  during  the Thirtieth  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature]  has resulted  in reductions  of approximately                                                               
50  teachers and  other  staff  for FY  21.    He explained  that                                                               
community pressure exists  for the district to  perform and serve                                                               
students.  He explained that  uncertainty in funding results in a                                                               
paradigm of cutting services in favor of strategic growth.                                                                      
9:03:14 AM                                                                                                                    
PEGGY COWAN  testified in support of  HB 236.  She  offered brief                                                               
biographical  information.   She  echoed  earlier testimony  that                                                               
uncertainty  in   funding  causes  districts  to   bear  negative                                                               
consequences.   She  suggested  that cuts  to  funding also  bear                                                               
indirect costs  such as reduced  morale, anger,  and frustration,                                                               
which she associated  with high teacher turnover.   She suggested                                                               
that low morale  among adults impacts the  students, resulting in                                                               
negative outcomes.                                                                                                              
9:04:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked Ms. Cowan  in which districts  she had                                                               
been superintendent.                                                                                                            
MS. COWAN answered that she had  served longest at both the North                                                               
Slope Borough School District and the Juneau School District.                                                                   
9:05:59 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM  KLAAMEYER,   President,  Anchorage   Education  Association,                                                               
testified  in support  of HB  236.   He spoke  on behalf  of over                                                               
3,200 members of the Anchorage  Education Association.  He echoed                                                               
previous  testimony   regarding  the  effects  of   budget  cuts,                                                               
personnel  cuts, and  teacher turnover.   He  suggested that  the                                                               
community of Anchorage has conveyed  an expectation of investment                                                               
in education  and applauded this  and other  proposed legislation                                                               
to that  end.   He cautioned  that further  cuts would  result in                                                               
harm to students and forward  funding should be contemplated.  He                                                               
expressed dismay that  ASD had been required  to make substantial                                                               
cuts to  health teachers,  while proposed  legislation pertaining                                                               
to  increasing  health  education  is  being  considered  by  the                                                               
legislature.  He added that class sizes are increasing.                                                                         
9:09:06 AM                                                                                                                    
PENNY VADLA,  President, Kenai Peninsula Borough  School District                                                               
Board of  Education, testified in support  of HB 236.   She urged                                                               
adequate  and  predictable  funding   for  public  education  for                                                               
districts  to  meet  regulatory and  constitutional  obligations.                                                               
She  highlighted  teacher   recruitment  and  retention,  support                                                               
programs,  strategic planning,  student wellbeing  as priorities.                                                               
She suggested  that further cuts  to funding  jeopardize students                                                               
in her  district.  She explained  cost-saving measures instituted                                                               
while the district has strived  to protect against cuts impacting                                                               
students in the classroom.  She urged the passage of HB 236.                                                                    
9:13:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  Ms. Vadla to describe  the geography and                                                               
number   of  students   in  her   district,  as   well  as   what                                                               
transportation issues are being faced in her district.                                                                          
MS.  VADLA  stated  that  her district  consists  of  over  8,000                                                               
students  and  42 schools  that  vary  in  size and  grade  level                                                               
composition.    She  explained that  transportation  is  a  major                                                               
consideration  in   her  district  and  efficiencies   have  been                                                               
realized within the large and complex district.                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND   asked  Ms.   Vadla  to   provide  additional                                                               
geographical  information on  the  transportation  system in  her                                                               
MS. VADLA explained that communities  within the district include                                                               
Tobona, Seldovia, Port Graham, English  Bay, and Russian Orthodox                                                               
community  schools, most  of  which are  part  of the  districts                                                                
transportation system.                                                                                                          
9:15:50 AM                                                                                                                    
DEENA   MITCHELL,  Board   Member,  Anchorage   School  District,                                                               
testified in support of HB 236.   She echoed prior testimony that                                                               
urged  the legislature  to  maintain funding  and  warned of  the                                                               
deleterious  effects of  unpredictability and  continued cuts  to                                                               
funding.    She suggested  that  cuts  to health  education  have                                                               
resulted  in elimination  of programs  that are  vital to  public                                                               
health,  including  SEL and  suicide  prevention.   She  extolled                                                               
forward funding as a vehicle  to increase teacher retention.  She                                                               
offered that  cuts result  in strain  on teachers  and exacerbate                                                               
costly teacher  turnover.  She  suggested that once a  program is                                                               
cut, it  is costly to  re-initiate, and cuts result  in permanent                                                               
program elimination.   She stated that increasing  class time has                                                               
resulted in less  teacher and student interaction  while the need                                                               
for behavioral management is increasing.                                                                                        
9:20:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MITCHELL  recommended:    inflation  proofing  of  the  BSA;                                                               
increasing the  number of safety  officers and  equipment; mental                                                               
health  professionals  and  counselors;  continued  vigilance  to                                                               
guard against  increasing class size; and  increasing educational                                                               
services.  She  suggested that SEL can  positively affect student                                                               
mental health and outcomes.                                                                                                     
9:22:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked Ms. Mitchell whether  the district had                                                               
an itemization of expenditures by program or service.                                                                           
MS. MITCHELL  answered that she would  determine what information                                                               
is available  for her district  and provide it to  the committee.                                                               
She  asked whether  Representative  Prax was  most interested  in                                                               
special education programs or more general program information.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX answered that  he sought more general program                                                               
9:23:14 AM                                                                                                                    
BETH SHORT  RHOADS testified in  support of  HB 236 as  a parent.                                                               
She explained  that her district no  longer has a library  and no                                                               
longer has a  much-needed school counselor.  She  stated that one                                                               
school  nurse  exists for  approximately  1,200  students in  her                                                               
community and expressed her fear  of negative impacts considering                                                               
the  Covid-19  pandemic.    She  applauded  the  efforts  of  her                                                               
community school  district to manage with  reduction of resources                                                               
and  expressed that  inflation proofing  is necessary  to prevent                                                               
continued dire cuts to essential programs.                                                                                      
9:25:51 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDY  HOLLOMAN  testified in  support  of  HB  236.   He  offered                                                               
biographical  information and  explained that  supplemental, one-                                                               
time funding  has resulted in  poor conditions for planning.   He                                                               
suggested  that inflation  impacts result  in cumulative  ongoing                                                               
cuts  to basic  core services  and increased  class size,  and he                                                               
urged inflation-proofing of the BSA.                                                                                            
9:28:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MARGO   BELLAMY,  Board   Member,   Anchorage  School   District,                                                               
testified in support  of HB 236.  She suggested  that an increase                                                               
to  the  BSA is  a  morally  appropriate  decision.   She  echoed                                                               
earlier testimony  and emphasized  difficulties in  the budgeting                                                               
process to  meet the needs  of students,  including consideration                                                               
of delayed  start of  the school  day, or  early dismissal.   She                                                               
urged passage of HB 236.                                                                                                        
9:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND stated  that Ms. Bellamy is  a retired educator                                                               
in addition to serving on the ASD Board of Education.                                                                           
MS. BELLAMY  confirmed her work  history also included time  as a                                                               
school and  office administrator,  and her experience  spanned 43                                                               
years of working with youth and families.                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked whether  delayed start or  early release                                                               
was included in the most recent ASD budget.                                                                                     
MS.  BELLAMY confirmed  it was,  and she  added that  each school                                                               
would have autonomy  to determine the class times  that best suit                                                               
its need.   In  response to  a follow-up  question, she  said the                                                               
district would  remain compliant  regarding the  minimum required                                                               
number of instructional days when  implementing any alteration in                                                               
the  school   day  schedule,  plans   for  which  are   still  in                                                               
development, with  challenges present at the  site, district, and                                                               
community levels.                                                                                                               
9:34:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked  whether  ASD maintained  a  list  of                                                               
mandated core services with a cost breakdown.                                                                                   
MS.  BELLAMY  confirmed that  the  information  is available  and                                                               
would be provided to the committee.                                                                                             
9:35:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  recalled Ms. Bellamys   testimony describing                                                               
the  challenges  at  discrete  levels  in  public  education  and                                                               
correlated them to those similarly  faced by the legislature.  He                                                               
suggested   that  the   legislature   would   benefit  from   the                                                               
perspectives  offered  by  witnesses  in  their  testimony.    He                                                               
suggested  that a  recurrent theme  offered in  testimony is  the                                                               
need  for  additional  revenue.     He  urged  vigilance  against                                                               
additional cuts that could result  in serving only [economically]                                                               
privileged  students.   He urged  support of  HB 236,  especially                                                               
considering the public testimony offered to the committee.                                                                      
9:38:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SEAN CONE testified in support of  HB 236.  He suggested that the                                                               
funding  in  recent years  has  been  unsustainable and  reliable                                                               
funding  is necessary.   He  echoed previous  testimony regarding                                                               
one-time funding allocations as  appreciated but not sustainable.                                                               
He  echoed   previous  testimony  regarding   the  constitutional                                                               
mandate for  education in  Alaska and  suggested that  funding is                                                               
not optional.   He  suggested that  neglecting to  fund education                                                               
equates to cutting education funding  and should be characterized                                                               
as such.   He suggested that inflation and cost  increases in the                                                               
absence of additional  funding is tantamount to  cuts to funding.                                                               
He  suggested that  effects of  inadequate  funding in  education                                                               
reach beyond education and  constitutional obligation, with wider                                                               
community impacts economically and  socially.  He exemplified CTE                                                               
classes as  inherently required to  maintain smaller  class sizes                                                               
due  to  the  course  material   and  teaching  methods,  and  he                                                               
expressed  that those  smaller class  sizes become  vulnerable to                                                               
cuts by attrition.                                                                                                              
9:42:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CRIS EICHENLAUB testified in opposition  to HB 236.  He suggested                                                               
that poor  management is  taking place in  public education.   He                                                               
said he has an issue with  the term "flat funding" and questioned                                                               
whether cuts  should have occurred considering  declining student                                                               
9:45:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK commented  that BSA  is correlated  directly                                                               
with  student population  and a  reduction of  student population                                                               
results in decreased funding, compounded  by loss of economies of                                                               
scale.   He  asked Mr.  Eichenlaub  to clarify  his assertion  of                                                               
funding levels increasing with decline in student population.                                                                   
MR. EICHENLAUB suggested that budgets  are increasing while total                                                               
student population is declining and  suggested this exists due to                                                               
mismanagement, including hiring additional teachers.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK suggested  that class  sizes are  increasing                                                               
which is evidence  contrary to the suggestion  that more teachers                                                               
are  hired when  student population  declines.   He offered  that                                                               
expenses  are  increasing  which  is  evidence  contrary  to  the                                                               
suggestion  that  funding  levels   are  flat  when  they  remain                                                               
MR.   EICHENLAUB  recommended   that   class   sizes  should   be                                                               
investigated amid claims that they have increased.                                                                              
9:47:46 AM                                                                                                                    
HERMAN MORGAN  testified in opposition  to HB 236.   He suggested                                                               
that  an  increase   to  BSA  would  be   tantamount  to  funding                                                               
socioeconomic problems and lower test scores.                                                                                   
9:50:28 AM                                                                                                                    
RALPH  WATKINS,  Superintendent,  Hoonah  City  School  District,                                                               
testified in support  of HB 236.  He  recalled previous testimony                                                               
criticizing public  education in Alaska and  asserted that Alaska                                                               
students receive  world-class education.   He  extolled teachers                                                                
dedication, professionalism,  and work ethic.   He suggested that                                                               
imparting  quality  education  to  students  requires  an  entire                                                               
system  that is  subject  to funding.   He  cited  costs such  as                                                               
teacher  salaries,  insurance,  curriculum,  and  supplies.    He                                                               
suggested that  withholding funding based on  what he categorized                                                               
as  a  flawed  viewpoint  is unacceptable.    He  urged  previous                                                               
testifiers  to   seek  information  and  facts   on  schools  and                                                               
districts and to consider community  expectations and impacts and                                                               
to  reconsider  their  support  for   increasing  the  BSA.    He                                                               
explained   that   his  role   in   his   district  consists   of                                                               
superintendent,  principal,  sometimes-middle-schoolteacher,  and                                                               
custodian.  His  district business office staff  consists of only                                                               
two individuals.   He stated  that over  the last two  years, his                                                               
district  had  graduated  100 percent  of  its  seniors,  seventy                                                               
percent of whom  have continued into postsecondary  programs.  He                                                               
asserted that quality education  exists in Alaska and recommended                                                               
increased funding.                                                                                                              
9:55:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND requested Mr.  Watkins submit written testimony                                                               
to the committee.                                                                                                               
9:55:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SEANNA O'SULLIVAN  testified in  support of HB  236.   She echoed                                                               
previous  testimony  regarding  increased costs  and  deleterious                                                               
effects  of flat  or reduced  funding.   She explained  that site                                                               
councils  were conceived  to  support extracurricular  activities                                                               
and are increasingly supporting  core educational programs at the                                                               
expense of extracurricular programs  such as Discovery Southeast.                                                               
She   shared  her   experience   as  a   parent  whose   personal                                                               
circumstances  had  changed  from  being able  to  volunteer  and                                                               
participate in  her childrens   schools to that  of a  parent who                                                               
increasingly  relies on  school  and ancillary  programs such  as                                                               
Recreation,  Arts, Learning,  and Leadership  for Youth  (RALLY).                                                               
She urged  consideration of realistic expectations  and realistic                                                               
conditions taking  place in schools that  are increasing services                                                               
despite reduction  in resources.   In response to a  request from                                                               
Co-Chair Drummond,  she explained that  RALLY is an  after school                                                               
childcare program in which her children are enrolled part time.                                                                 
10:00:51 AM                                                                                                                   
BILL  BJORK testified  in  support of  HB 236.    He argued  that                                                               
claims  that Alaska  teachers are  highly  paid is  not based  in                                                               
fact.   He offered to provide  data to the committee  in evidence                                                               
of the contrary.                                                                                                                
10:02:36 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR STORY closed public testimony on HB 236.                                                                               
[HB 236 was held over.]                                                                                                         
10:03:52 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:03 a.m.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects