Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

04/14/2021 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:01:14 AM Start
08:02:17 AM Presentation: School District Perspectives and Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower Kuskokwim, and Unalaska School Districts
09:38:48 AM HB25
10:05:06 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: School District Perspectives & TELECONFERENCED
Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower
Kuskokwim, & Unalaska City School Districts
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 19 LIMITED TEACHER CERTIFICATES; LANGUAGES TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+= HB 25 PUBLIC SCHOOLS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 25 Out of Committee
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 14, 2021                                                                                         
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Mike Prax                                                                                                        
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
Representative Ronald Gillham                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: School  District Perspectives and  Updates; Looking                                                               
Ahead  by   Anchorage~  Lower  Kuskokwim~  and   Unalaska  School                                                               
Districts                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 25                                                                                                               
"An Act  relating to the duties  of the state Board  of Education                                                               
and  Early  Development;  relating  to  statewide  standards  for                                                               
instruction in  social-emotional learning;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED FROM COMMITTEE                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 19                                                                                                               
"An  Act  relating  to  instruction  in  a  language  other  than                                                               
English;  and  establishing  limited language  immersion  teacher                                                               
certificates."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 25                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: PUBLIC SCHOOLS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) HOPKINS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/8/21                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       EDC, STA                                                                                               
03/29/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/29/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/29/21       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
04/12/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
04/12/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/12/21       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
04/14/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEENA BISHOP, PhD, Superintendent                                                                                               
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Took  part  in  a presentation  on  School                                                             
District Perspectives and Updates.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KIMBERLY HANKINS, Superintendent                                                                                                
Lower Kuskokwim School District                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Took  part  in  a presentation  on  School                                                             
District Perspectives and Updates.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JOHN CONWELL, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Unalaska City School District                                                                                                   
Unalaska, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Took  part  in  a presentation  on  School                                                             
District Perspectives and Updates.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:01:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ANDI   STORY  called   the  House   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   8:01  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Drummond,  Hopkins, Prax,  Gillham,  Cronk,  Zulkosky, and  Story                                                               
were present at the call to order.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION: School District  Perspectives and Updates; Looking                                                               
Ahead  by   Anchorage,  Lower  Kuskokwim,  and   Unalaska  School                                                               
Districts                                                                                                                       
    PRESENTATION:   School    District   Perspectives   and                                                                 
     Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower Kuskokwim,                                                                  
     and Unalaska School Districts                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:02:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be  a presentation  entitled, "School  District Perspectives  and                                                               
Updates;  Looking   Ahead  by  Anchorage,  Lower   Kuskokwim  and                                                               
Unalaska School Districts."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:04:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEENA  BISHOP,  PhD,  Superintendent, Anchorage  School  District                                                               
(ASD),  took   part  in  the  presentation   on  School  District                                                               
Perspectives and Updates.  In response  to a prompt to describe a                                                               
current school  day for students  in ASD, she said  Anchorage had                                                               
fully opened [in  relation to the COVID-19  shut-down] on January                                                               
19,  2021, for  elementary schools,  and on  March 15,  2021, for                                                               
secondary schools.   She  said 85  percent of  elementary parents                                                               
chose for their children to  return to face-to-face learning; the                                                               
rest chose  an online option.   She said at the  secondary level,                                                               
[in person]  attendance is  about 70  percent.   She said  ASD is                                                               
using  the  Centers  for Disease  Control  and  Prevention  (CDC)                                                               
recommendation  of "cohorting"  students, therefore  the students                                                               
aren't  all going  to recess  at  the same  time.   She said  the                                                               
school  has been  using other  mitigation  techniques within  the                                                               
school, and although it has been  successful, it has also been "a                                                               
lot of work" for the full staff of the schools.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP discussed  changes in  enrollment.   She said  at the                                                               
beginning of the  school year, ASD saw a  significant decrease of                                                               
4,000 students  who either went to  statewide correspondence, had                                                               
moved  out of  state,  or  chose a  local  private  school.   She                                                               
explained  that  private schools  "started  up  right away,"  and                                                               
shared  that  over  1,000  ASD   students  entered  into  private                                                               
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:07:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked if the enrollment  numbers had increased                                                               
since  the beginning  of the  school year  when the  district was                                                               
down 4,000 students.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP answered  that each year there is  some variation, and                                                               
ASD wasn't  sure if this  year's change  was due to  students not                                                               
choosing  to  come  back,  or  students  moving  out  because  of                                                               
military or Alaska's  lack of economic growth.   She suggested it                                                               
was a  change of  children, rather than  a change  in enrollment.                                                               
She said there has not been a major influx back.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:09:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIMBERLY   HANKINS,   Superintendent,  Lower   Kuskokwim   School                                                               
District  (LKSD),  took  part  in   the  presentation  on  School                                                               
District  Perspectives and  Updates.   She shared  that LKSD  was                                                               
currently  in  a  hybrid  model  for all  of  its  schools,  pre-                                                               
kindergarten through  sixth grade,  with the  exception of  a few                                                               
village schools with  active COVID-19 cases.   She explained that                                                               
those schools  are in  remote learning status.   She  shared that                                                               
LKSD has  continued to work  closely with the tribal  councils in                                                               
each  community  and the  regional  health  care provider  Yukon-                                                               
Kuskokwim  Health  Corporation  (YKHC) in  monitoring  cases  and                                                               
hopes to  return to in person  learning when the cases  have been                                                               
resolved.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  said that  for seventh  through twelfth  grade, LKSD                                                               
has prioritized seniors and students  who are most at risk, which                                                               
looks different  across LKSD's  29 schools.   She  explained that                                                               
some villages  have small student populations  where all students                                                               
have  returned to  school, which  is different  than from  Bethel                                                               
Regional High  School (BRHS), which  has a student  enrollment of                                                               
475.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  shared that the  Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K)  Delta region                                                               
had the  highest rates of  COVID-19 per  capita in the  state for                                                               
over four months,  which she said was challenging.   The district                                                               
has had many students and  staff test positive with COVID-19 this                                                               
past school year,  and lost two employees to  COVID-19, she said.                                                               
She explained  that beginning last  November all schools  in LKSD                                                               
and  the  five neighboring  districts  were  remote only  at  the                                                               
request of  YKHC.  She  informed the committee that  the region's                                                               
cases  have  declined  due  to  the  efforts  of  YKHC's  vaccine                                                               
distribution.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  said that  on a typical  school day  students arrive                                                               
and receive a health screening.   She noted that a portion of the                                                               
school population  received BynaxNOW  COVID-19 testing  each day.                                                               
She  said LKSD  has focused  on targeted,  in person  instruction                                                               
heavily in  literacy and math,  with a strong emphasis  on credit                                                               
retainment and  credit recovery  at the high  school level.   She                                                               
said  LKSD  has strong  mitigation  measures  in place  including                                                               
required  masking  by  students  and  staff,  a  required  social                                                               
distance of six feet, the  practice of hand-sanitizing, increased                                                               
facility  sanitization,  and  the aforementioned  cohorts.    She                                                               
explained that  cohorts stay together, including  eating lunch in                                                               
the  classroom,  which helps  with  contact  tracing.   She  said                                                               
roughly 90  percent of pre-kindergarten through  sixth grade have                                                               
returned from  remote learning,  and she  hopes the  district can                                                               
return  to full  in person  learning come  August.   She noted  a                                                               
decrease in  enrollment of 47 students  which was as a  result of                                                               
families  moving  out of  the  district  or region,  or  families                                                               
opting to enroll in full-time homeschool.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:14:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY  expressed  sympathy  on  the  loss  of  the  two                                                               
employees.  She asked Ms.  Hankins about LKSD's hybrid model, and                                                               
also asked  what percentage of the  student body was lost  in the                                                               
decreased enrollment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS replied  that with the hybrid model,  "Group A" comes                                                               
to  school  on   Mondays  and  Tuesdays  and  is   in  remote  on                                                               
Wednesdays, Thursdays,  and Fridays.   She said  "Group B"  is in                                                               
person  on  Thursdays and  Fridays,  and  is remote  on  Mondays,                                                               
Tuesdays, and  Wednesdays.   She said  total enrollment  is about                                                               
4,000 students, so  47 is not a great number  given total student                                                               
enrollment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:15:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX, regarding  Ms. Hankins'  comment about  the                                                               
region being a  "high risk" area, asked if the  risk level of the                                                               
Y-K Delta is measured by a local or statewide metric.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  answered that  LKSD works  closely with  YKHC, which                                                               
has  guidelines for  the region's  school districts  that are  in                                                               
alignment with  CDC guidance for  operational zones.   When asked                                                               
if the criteria  were published anywhere, she replied  that it is                                                               
published by YKHC and on LKSD website.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:16:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY  asked  Ms.  Hankins  to  speak  to  the                                                               
challenges for remote  students caused by the  inequity of access                                                               
to reliable Internet.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  answered that approximately  10 percent  of students                                                               
have  access to  home Internet  service.   She said  it is  cost-                                                               
prohibitive in the  region, as an average  package runs $200-$300                                                               
a  month.   She  offered  that LKSD  used  the Coronavirus  Aide,                                                               
Relief  and  Economic Security  (CARES)  Act  funds to  build  an                                                               
intranet.    This  has  allowed students  to  access  a  learning                                                               
management  system,  access  PowerSchool,  and  use  Zoom.    She                                                               
pointed  out that  students do  not have  access to  the Internet                                                               
through the system.   She emphasized that it was  a large effort,                                                               
requiring  a modem  and device  for  every family,  along with  a                                                               
router and antenna in villages.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:19:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY asked  if  student's lack  of access  to                                                               
reliable   Internet   would    have   implications   to   student                                                               
achievement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  agreed that it would.   She said the  district could                                                               
be doing more with reliable in-home Internet.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:20:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  CONWELL,  Superintendent,  Unalaska  City  School  District                                                               
(UCSD),  took  part  in  the   presentation  on  School  District                                                               
Perspectives  and  Updates.    He  said UCSD  is  a  city  school                                                               
district  with two  schools,  a  pre-kindergarten through  fourth                                                               
grade school  and a fifth  through twelfth grade building  with a                                                               
total  enrollment  of  387  students  as of  October  2020.    He                                                               
informed  the committee  that  UCSD has  been  back full-time  in                                                               
person since the  end of spring break, March 22,  2021.  The last                                                               
time the  district was full-time,  in person was  before December                                                               
1, 2020.  The school year began  in person for the first 70 days,                                                               
he explained, but when the city  risk level shifted to "high" the                                                               
school moved to  home-based learning.  He  said Unalaska, similar                                                               
to  LKSD,  has  Internet  and connectivity  issues.    While  the                                                               
district was  still able  to operate in  person, it  deployed its                                                               
"local remote student  learning network."  He  explained this was                                                               
developed  with  the  local  telecom  provider,  which  installed                                                               
modems in students'  homes through landlines.   While this didn't                                                               
allow  for videoconferencing,  students  all  were equipped  with                                                               
Chromebooks  that   allowed  access  to  the   district's  online                                                               
learning  platforms, he  shared.   He  said  UCSD also  installed                                                               
audio  conference  technology in  each  classroom,  so groups  of                                                               
students could call in to access their teacher together.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL said  the schools did home-based  learning up through                                                               
February 1,  2021, when  they were  able to  shift into  a hybrid                                                               
model.  He  explained this was voluntary and four  days a week in                                                               
the  afternoon.   He said  students were  strictly cohorted,  and                                                               
social distancing was increased from 6  feet to 10 feet.  He said                                                               
it allowed students who were  struggling with the homebased model                                                               
to meet face-to-face with teachers.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:24:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL said  the current school day "looks  about as typical                                                               
as we  can get  with all the  mitigation protocols,  the masking,                                                               
the physical  distancing, the  hand hygiene."   He  said students                                                               
were  still   cohorting  for   meals,  still   utilizing  plastic                                                               
barriers,  and every  classroom  had high-efficiency  particulate                                                               
air (HEPA) air  filtration systems installed.  He  said there was                                                               
recently a potential widespread  exposure caused by some COVID-19                                                               
positive  fishermen who  knowingly  broke  quarantine, which  has                                                               
returned  the city  to  "high"  risk.   He  said  the school  has                                                               
remained in person, because the  criteria had been adjusted based                                                               
on the prevalence of vaccinations in the community.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL said  students' moral has improved as  they have been                                                               
back in school  with friends and teachers.  He  said the district                                                               
is offering after  school programs but noted that  there have not                                                               
been athletics this year because  of travel issues and quarantine                                                               
requirements [with  COVID-19].   He shared  that the  district is                                                               
hoping to  participate in Native Youth  Olympics virtually state-                                                               
wide and is  also hoping to have the  Missoula Children's Theatre                                                               
produce a play.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:27:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked if  UCSD  was  working with  a  local                                                               
organization  to  develop its  risk  level  criteria, or  if  the                                                               
district was  adopting something  published by  the state  or the                                                               
federal government.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL answered  that UCSD  worked closely  with Unalaska's                                                               
local  emergency operations  command,  which  comprised the  city                                                               
manager, the  Iliuliuk Family &  Health Service  (IFHS) director,                                                               
and the mayor, along with  the unified incident command, which is                                                               
a  group of  stakeholders representing  the fishing  industry and                                                               
city  department heads.    He said  UCSD  doesn't make  decisions                                                               
without consulting the medical team  and has closely followed the                                                               
city's  emergency  operation  plan.    He  said  UCSD  brought  a                                                               
proposal  based on  CDC recommendations  to the  incident command                                                               
and  found  a  way  to  operate schools  even  with  up  to  five                                                               
community cases.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked if the criteria were available online.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL  answered that it  had just been established,  and he                                                               
intended to  put it  on the school's  website and  Facebook page.                                                               
He  explained that  most communication  had been  done via  email                                                               
with parents.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:31:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ZULKOSKY  informed   the   committee  that   the                                                               
Department  of   Education  and  Early  Development   (DEED)  had                                                               
provided  "smart  start  guidance"  for all  schools  across  the                                                               
state.   She said  this was so  schools could  develop culturally                                                               
and  socially  relevant  plans  for  convening  education  safely                                                               
throughout   the  pandemic.     The   guidance,  she   explained,                                                               
encouraged  them  to work  with  local  health organizations  and                                                               
communities to develop those standards.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:31:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY  asked  Dr.  Bishop   about  inequities  to  home                                                               
Internet services for ASD's students.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  answered that  Anchorage had  access issues,  but not                                                               
for infrastructure  reasons like in  rural Alaska.  She  said ASD                                                               
provided  Chromebooks  to  students   and  worked  with  American                                                               
Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) to  provide limited Wi-Fi to about                                                               
1,500 families who  needed assistance.  She  said, "[The Internet                                                               
data] should have  lasted two weeks; [but it] lasted  about a day                                                               
because everyone in  the family who had not had  access joined in                                                               
on the wi-fi, watched movies ..."   She said many of the families                                                               
had  Internet  in the  past,  but  because of  unpaid  [Internet]                                                               
bills,  many could  no longer  sign up.   The  school board,  she                                                               
explained,  put  over  $1.5  million  of  CARES  Act  funds  into                                                               
accessibility for Internet and provided families with routers.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:34:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY moved  discussion  to the  next  topic:   student                                                               
needs at the end of the pandemic school year.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS  said  LKSD  was  seeing  needs  in  several  areas.                                                               
Academically, she  said the  district was  working to  assess and                                                               
address learning loss.   She said the district  wanted to provide                                                               
specific, targeted instruction in  literacy and math, support for                                                               
credit  attainment and  recovery at  the high  school level,  and                                                               
support for pre-kindergarten programs.   Socially, she continued,                                                               
LKSD needed to  make sure it was providing as  much mental health                                                               
support as it  could.  She said the district  was concerned about                                                               
the impact  of COVID-19 on  students' mental health and  had been                                                               
throughout  the  pandemic.   The  district  has itinerant  social                                                               
workers and councilors, she explained,  but their travel has been                                                               
limited because of  the pandemic, so most of their  work has been                                                               
done  by  Zoom  or  over  the  phone.    She  noted  that  travel                                                               
restrictions in the region have  eased recently, so students have                                                               
been able  to meet  with support  face-to-face.   Culturally, she                                                               
said one  of the positives  [the pandemic] has  provided families                                                               
is  more  time  to  be   together  and  to  practice  subsistence                                                               
activities.  She shared that  moving forward, the district wanted                                                               
to  provide more  opportunities to  incorporate culture  into the                                                               
classroom.   She offered that  as students returned,  LKSD wanted                                                               
to support them being in school in any way it could.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:38:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY asked  Mr. Conwell  what he  saw as  the greatest                                                               
needs of his students at the  close of the school year during the                                                               
pandemic.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL  replied that  his district's  needs were  similar to                                                               
Ms.  Hankins's district's.   Academically,  he offered  that UCSD                                                               
would  be aggressively  assessing  potential learning  loss.   He                                                               
observed that  students who had  remained engaged  throughout the                                                               
various  learning delivery  methods  did well  when the  district                                                               
resumed in  person learning, but  he shared that the  district is                                                               
concerned about the  students who became disengaged  and were not                                                               
participating.  He said during  January and February the district                                                               
identified students,  particularly high school seniors,  who were                                                               
at  risk of  not  graduating.   He said  of  the about  25-person                                                               
graduating class,  the district  was concerned  about 5-6  of the                                                               
students and  made an effort  to get those individuals  on course                                                               
and back in person, and they are now almost all caught up.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL  said students suffered  from anxiety  and depression                                                               
when isolated at home.  He  said the behavioral and mental health                                                               
supports are critical and informed  the committee that UCSD has a                                                               
partnership  with  the   Aleutian  Pribilof  Islands  Association                                                               
(APIA)  which  has  behavioral health  counselors  who  can  help                                                               
students,  and there  is also  a school  counselor.   He said  if                                                               
there was one need going into  next year, it would be to increase                                                               
counseling staff.   With  1 counselor to  400 students,  there is                                                               
too large a workload, he opined.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL said  the district  plans to  offer a  summer school                                                               
program.   He explained  that in  a typical  year, this  would be                                                               
targeted to students  who are performing in  the lowest quartile,                                                               
but  this  year  it  is  opened to  all  students,  with  doubled                                                               
staffing.   He said  the district was  looking to  develop after-                                                               
school tutoring programs for the  coming year, in addition to the                                                               
Saturday "learning lab" that is offered to students.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL said unlike at  LKSD, home-based students in Unalaska                                                               
created  a burden  for parents  who  needed to  be at  work.   He                                                               
described the city as a  "type A, workaholic type community where                                                               
folk work  long hours," so  when there were childcare  issues and                                                               
parents had  to stay  home, it caused  financial burdens  to some                                                               
families.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:42:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked  Dr. Bishop what some of  the greatest needs                                                               
of ASD's students were.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP   commented  that  Anchorage  was   seeing  the  same                                                               
challenges that her  colleagues had just discussed.   Rather than                                                               
speaking  about  learning  loss,   her  district  is  calling  it                                                               
"unfinished  learning, because  of  the issues  in engaging  with                                                               
students.  She  cited a lack of access  to learning, high-quality                                                               
pedagogy,  or face-to-face  instruction.   She offered  that this                                                               
summer ASD would  provide a robust summer  school.  Approximately                                                               
14,000 students  would enter school  and be provided  bussing and                                                               
lunches,  in what  she described  as an  extension of  the school                                                               
year.  She  said there would be  both a June and  July session at                                                               
four weeks each.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP said  the district saw this coming from  day one.  She                                                               
said middle  school students who struggled  received incompletes,                                                               
rather than  failing grades.   She said elementary  students were                                                               
behind  on their  reading skills.    She shared  that when  early                                                               
learning is impacted, there is a  "trickle up" into each grade as                                                               
a child  moves through  the system.   She  said the  district was                                                               
creating  choice programs  for all  students in  response to  the                                                               
issue, and that her highest concern was reading access.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:45:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  referenced  a section  of  the  spending                                                               
guidelines  from the  American  Rescue Plant  Act that  addressed                                                               
homeless youth.  He asked Dr.  Bishop if she had seen an increase                                                               
in students having homeless needs.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP  replied  that  there  had been  an  increase.    She                                                               
commented that  ASD works closely  with Covenant House  and other                                                               
programs  to  support  students  "in  transition,"  and  has  put                                                               
operational dollars towards the  support of families and students                                                               
in  transition.   She said  the issue  was more  about access  to                                                               
food, Internet,  and other  things associated  with school.   She                                                               
stated  that having  families out  of  work and  without food  or                                                               
other necessities  accessible is the  biggest area ASD  is trying                                                               
to serve students.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:47:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS asked  if there  were new  programs being                                                               
put  in place  this summer  and in  the upcoming  school year  to                                                               
assist  with families  in need,  or  if ASD  would be  bolstering                                                               
current programs.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP replied  that ASD  works closely  with United  Way of                                                               
Anchorage to support some of  the activities.  She commented that                                                               
the Anchorage  Assembly, through Volunteers of  America and other                                                               
entities,  has  collaborated  with  ASD to  support  high  school                                                               
students, especially  those who  are living  by themselves.   She                                                               
said  it  was a  collaborative  approach  with the  city  through                                                               
United  Way of  Anchorage helpline.    She shared  that ASD  also                                                               
provided a helpline for issues  such as an electrical bill, food,                                                               
and transportation.  She said  over 10 agencies are collaborating                                                               
on this work.   The biggest issue was food,  and ASD had provided                                                               
over 1,500 daily meals outside of student lunches for families.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:49:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND said  that last May, money was  provided by the                                                               
state for child  nutrition.  She asked if this  is what was being                                                               
applied to nutrition services.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP answered  that  ASD  and its  partners  did use  this                                                               
money, but there  are different rules for different  monies.  She                                                               
said  the school  lunch program  is based  directly on  providing                                                               
school  lunches, so  it  is a  little different.    She said  the                                                               
Anchorage  Assembly  awarded  an  additional $400  per  child  to                                                               
families.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:50:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked Mr. Conwell  for an update on his district's                                                               
financial standing.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL replied  that UCSD  is  a city  school district,  so                                                               
about  half  of  the  school  funding  comes  from  the  City  of                                                               
Unalaska.  He said for the 27  years he had been in Unalaska, the                                                               
city had  funded the schools  to the  allowable cap, or  close to                                                               
it.  He  shared that the city has a  strong local economy, though                                                               
it is  a little  more tenuous  now.  He  commented that  there is                                                               
some concern that if businesses and  fish plants don't get up off                                                               
the  ground after  the pandemic,  it will  affect the  city's tax                                                               
base.   He  said the  city received  a small  amount through  the                                                               
CARES Act,  but not a lot.   The money received  from the federal                                                               
government  was used  to  purchase  Chromebooks, install  plastic                                                               
barriers, supplement meals, and  install the previously mentioned                                                               
HEPA air filtration  systems.  In addition to the  CARES Act, the                                                               
State  of Alaska  gave  about $200,000  to  the school  district,                                                               
which  was utilized  to implement  the  remote learning  computer                                                               
network and audio conference lines.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL  said   the  UCSD  is  concerned  in   the  drop  in                                                               
enrollment.   He  said the  school  district depends  on a  small                                                               
influx of immigrant  students each year from  the Philippines and                                                               
Mexico,  which  has been  more  difficult  because of  tightening                                                               
immigration restrictions.   He  said the school  was down  to 366                                                               
students from the October count of  387, and he believed it would                                                               
take 3  to 4 years  before the district would  be back up  to its                                                               
previous fiscal  year 2020  (FY 20)  numbers of 410  to 415.   He                                                               
said in  a typical year  a drop like  this would lead  to cutting                                                               
faculty.   He added that  classroom instruction was best  done in                                                               
person, not through a computer screen.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:55:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked how  the district was  planning to  use the                                                               
money from the American Recovery Plan Act.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CONWELL  answered that  his recommendation  would be  for the                                                               
district to target  the funds for learning  recovery efforts next                                                               
year.  He  suggested this could be additional  staffing for after                                                               
school, tutorial  programs or study  hall, as well  as additional                                                               
materials to help with learning recovery.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:57:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked Dr. Bishop where ADS stood financially.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP answered that prior  to any money being received, each                                                               
year ASD  experiences an  $11 to $14  million shortfall  from the                                                               
previous  year in  a pro  forma based  budget, which  is about  2                                                               
percent of the district's operational  budget.  She said about 92                                                               
percent of Anchorage's funds are  for support staff and are built                                                               
into  collective  bargaining  agreements  (CBA's)  which  have  a                                                               
natural progression.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  said that  this year  ASD utilized  the CARES  Act to                                                               
support  new infrastructure  like  personal protective  equipment                                                               
(PPE) and the  Chromebooks.  She said it was  also used to retain                                                               
staff.   She explained ASD  experienced between an eight  to nine                                                               
percent  decrease in  enrollment, but  the district  was able  to                                                               
utilize "hold  harmless" which assisted  the district  in growing                                                               
smaller naturally.  She explained  that the district's enrollment                                                               
numbers were  due to DEED  by November  to help build  the future                                                               
state  budget,   which  was  difficult  to   predict  during  the                                                               
pandemic.  She said ASD foresaw  about a 25 percent decrease, but                                                               
believes  students  will  return,  however,  there  are  economic                                                               
issues at play.  She  shared that the district decreased staffing                                                               
going  into  FY 22,  because  it  believes  there will  be  fewer                                                               
students at  first.  She  affirmed that  the CARES Act  money did                                                               
support the district,  and the additional Recovery  Act money has                                                               
yet to be spent.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:02:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked if there was  a percentage estimate                                                               
regarding how many students are expected to return.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP replied  that  the district  estimates  out of  4,000                                                               
students that left, about 75 percent  will return.  She said many                                                               
of them  are in  private schools, which  are cost  inhibitive for                                                               
many  parents long-term.   She  said many  students may  not come                                                               
back because many  families found that online  programs met their                                                               
needs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:04:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  commented that social distancing  was achieved                                                               
by lowering class  sizes and having fewer children  in the rooms.                                                               
She said  this put  a burden  on the teachers  who would  have to                                                               
teach  the same  subject twice  to teach  the multiple  distanced                                                               
factions of a class.  She asked how this worked.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  replied that ASD  used three to six  foot distancing,                                                               
which was taken from CDC  guidelines for masked individuals.  She                                                               
said ASD  utilized additional  classrooms and  specialty teachers                                                               
to create  additional classes.   She  said the  district utilized                                                               
gyms, libraries, and rooms that are  intended to be used for pre-                                                               
school in future.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:07:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked  how LKSD had faired  financially during the                                                               
pandemic                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS  first  replied   to  Co-Chair  Drummond's  previous                                                               
question.  She  explained that LKSD saw the  updated guidance for                                                               
three  feet of  social distance  and conferenced  with YKHC,  but                                                               
because the  region is still  at the high-risk level,  the school                                                               
is  continuing  with six  feet.    She  offered that  this  works                                                               
because of  the cohort model  with students coming in  person for                                                               
two days a week.  She stated  that LKSD was hopeful that the case                                                               
rates  would lower  the next  fall and  allow for  three feet  of                                                               
social distance.   She offered that LKSD had  also utilized other                                                               
spaces  in  schools for  instructional  space  such as  gyms  and                                                               
cafeterias.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS said that in terms  of finances, LKSD is able to work                                                               
with  what they  have.   She  said flat  funding  results in  the                                                               
district  having to  cut  costs  every year  in  order to  absorb                                                               
increased costs  in wages  and benefits.   She said  the district                                                               
works   to  find   savings  because   of   increases  and   other                                                               
unanticipated costs.   She said LKSD was able to  absorb the loss                                                               
of funds from the 47 students  [who left the district or opted to                                                               
attend homeschool] by looking at  department cuts at the district                                                               
office level.  The district  utilized CARES Act funding primarily                                                               
for technology  ("tech"), mostly  to put  the intranet  system in                                                               
place,  she  offered.   It  was  also  used  to acquire  PPE,  to                                                               
increase custodial  hours, and for  the routine costs  of service                                                               
fees   such  as   maintenance   through  General   Communications                                                               
Incorporated (GCI).                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:10:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS  said  that  for  Elementary  and  Secondary  School                                                               
Emergency Relief  (ESSER II)  funds, the  district has  put money                                                               
into summer school and extended  day programs, which is happening                                                               
at most  sites where in person  learning is happening.   She said                                                               
LKSD is utilizing funds to be  certain it is able to offer credit                                                               
recovery opportunities for students  and a summer school program.                                                               
She said  one of the challenges  LKSD faces every year  in regard                                                               
to offering summer  school programs is staffing.   Many certified                                                               
staff  leave  over  summer,  so  this  summer,  the  district  is                                                               
planning  to  utilize  the  video  conferencing  system  that  is                                                               
already in place.   She mentioned the  vocational training center                                                               
(VTC) offerings  and said there are  six full-time, district-wide                                                               
high  school  teaches who  are  housed  in Bethel  and  broadcast                                                               
classes districtwide.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS said  the ESSER  II was  also used  to purchase  air                                                               
purifier  systems for  every classroom  with HEPA  filters.   She                                                               
offered that  the previous  spring, the  district did  an initial                                                               
assessment of  all of its  air circulation systems  and addressed                                                               
two schools  that needed assistance,  but the district  wanted to                                                               
take the  extra step moving  forward.  She said  LKSD anticipates                                                               
providing further  tech support  for the intranet,  continuing to                                                               
provide PPE  for its sites, and  increased hours for staff.   She                                                               
mentioned that LKSD  wanted to expand its bus  fleet for improved                                                               
social  distancing.   She said  she  anticipates utilizing  these                                                               
funds for several years.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:14:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked Dr. Bishop  if she  anticipated significant                                                               
systemic  or  instructional  changes   next  year  or  the  years                                                               
hereafter.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  responded that while online,  at-home learning hasn't                                                               
worked  for  many,  ASD  has   learned  about  many  benefits  it                                                               
provides, such as  access for students and  helping teachers with                                                               
targeted  learning.   She commented  that the  district would  be                                                               
utilizing devices  to allow students equity.   Regarding cultural                                                               
equity, she  shared that it  was a great learning  experience for                                                               
teachers, because online courses  provided insight into student's                                                               
lives.   She shared  that the majority  of teachers  in Anchorage                                                               
are  white, but  the students  are diverse,  with many  different                                                               
languages  and cultures.    She  said ASD  plans  to capture  the                                                               
understanding that  the teachers  now have in  order to  grow the                                                               
staff's understanding of learning and  families.  She said ASD is                                                               
now partnering  more with families  and providing  more equitable                                                               
access for  them.   She asserted  there where  many instructional                                                               
platforms that  were very beneficial  which ASD will  continue to                                                               
utilize, but [online learning] also  has provided opportunity for                                                               
internal  choice,  and  she  offered that  there  can  be  online                                                               
flexibility while still having face-to-face instruction.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:16:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY asked  Ms. Hankins  what  systemic or  structural                                                               
changes she anticipated for the next year.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS answered  that LKSD  is  looking to  learn from  the                                                               
systems that  had been in  place during  the pandemic and  see if                                                               
there  had been  any best  practices or  positive takeaways  that                                                               
could be  put into  place.   She said  LKSD will  continue remote                                                               
learning  in some  fashion  and  wants to  be  sure its  intranet                                                               
system continues.   She  also referred to the district's distance                                                               
delivery program  and said  LKSD wants  to strengthen  its course                                                               
offerings because it helps the district reach many students.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS shared  that rural Alaska has  struggled with teacher                                                               
recruitment and  retention, particularly in  the past year.   She                                                               
said because of  this, the distance delivery  system is essential                                                               
in  order  to  provide  highly  qualified  teachers  to  instruct                                                               
students, particularly in villages  with unfilled positions.  Ms.                                                               
Hankins  said the  district will  continue  to assess  unfinished                                                               
learning and  is looking at  "beefing up" course offerings.   She                                                               
said one  thing LKSD hopes  to address is having  adequate mental                                                               
health support  for students.   She commented that  some students                                                               
already  suffer  from childhood  trauma  and  now have  pandemic-                                                               
related  trauma.   She also  mentioned [the  need for]  continued                                                               
adequate  professional  development  for teachers,  so  they  may                                                               
continue  to   provide  the   best  learning   opportunities  for                                                               
students.   She commented  that technology is  key and  said LKSD                                                               
will continue  to be  innovative in how  to approach  meeting the                                                               
needs of the students.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:20:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked Mr. Conwell  if he  anticipated significant                                                               
systemic or structural changes next year or in the years ahead.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL commented  that he  echoed what  Dr. Bishop  and Ms.                                                               
Hankins  said,   particularly  about  parent  partnership.     He                                                               
emphasized  that  the  district  in  Unalaska  learned  just  how                                                               
important  it  is  to  form  and  cultivate  those  partnerships,                                                               
particularly with  parents who  do not speak  English as  a first                                                               
language.   He shared that  teachers have approached  UCSD asking                                                               
for opportunities  to help parents  better assist  their children                                                               
at  home.   He  stated that  parents felt  they  didn't have  the                                                               
skills or  the education  [to help  their children  with school],                                                               
but he argued they could, if shown how.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL said  the district  wanted to  work on  cocurricular                                                               
programs  that  "fell  by  the   wayside."    He  commented  that                                                               
educators  were focused  on the  essentials this  past year,  and                                                               
because  of lockdown,  it was  difficult to  operate after-school                                                               
programs  such as  sports, music,  or art.   He  opined that  the                                                               
district  needed to  start bringing  those back  in a  meaningful                                                               
way.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.   CONWELL  said   this  year   was  hampered   by  quarantine                                                               
requirements.    He explained  that  Unalaska  is remote,  and  a                                                               
medical emergency required an 800-mile  medivac to Anchorage.  He                                                               
explained  that students  may need  to  leave [for  a variety  of                                                               
medical reasons]  and the  district needs  to keep  the students'                                                               
continuity  of education  intact.   Therefor,  he explained  that                                                               
UCSD intends to  keep its local/remote learning  network in place                                                               
and hopes  to strengthen remote  education for families  who need                                                               
to travel.   He concluded by commenting that  the district needed                                                               
to "build back," and he reiterated,  "So many things just fell by                                                               
the wayside."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:23:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY  commented that  not all schools  seem to                                                               
"start at  the same starting  line with  respect to the  types of                                                               
resources  and  opportunities  that  are made  available  to  our                                                               
students."   She asked all  three superintendents  about external                                                               
systemic challenges to delivering education.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CONWELL replied  that for  Unalaska, it  was "the  necessary                                                               
evils"  of  having  to   do  mitigation  protocols,  particularly                                                               
quarantine.    He  explained  that   because  the  city  took  an                                                               
aggressive stance [in  combating COVID-19] it was a  very low bar                                                               
before  the  schools began  shutting  down,  with one  community-                                                               
spread  case.   He explained  that he  agreed with  the approach,                                                               
because of  Unalaska's remote location and  distance from medical                                                               
facilities, but  it hampered the  ability to conduct school  in a                                                               
meaningful way, especially in person.   He said it was disruptive                                                               
when navigating  risk levels  and dealing  with quarantines.   He                                                               
commented that  he believes "we  will be  living with this  for a                                                               
while longer,"  but UCSD can  continue to evolve and  improve its                                                               
operations.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:27:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS replied  that one  of the  challenges LKSD  faces is                                                               
access  to  Internet  and  being  able to  have  equity  in  what                                                               
students can  access from home.   She  commented that one  of the                                                               
challenges this past year was the  work with all of the tribes in                                                               
the  region.   She  explained  that each  tribe  crafted its  own                                                               
mandates,  in terms  of requirements  for quarantine  and travel.                                                               
She shared that there was an  operation center that tried to stay                                                               
current with what was happening in  all 24 communities.  She said                                                               
even getting teachers  in and out of villages  took great effort,                                                               
particularly in returning teachers to  villages last summer.  She                                                               
said most staff  had to quarantine for two  weeks, which resulted                                                               
in the district changing  its professional development structure.                                                               
She  commented  that this  has  resulted  in great  partnerships,                                                               
which  the  district  wants   to  continue  during  post-pandemic                                                               
operations.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKINS  said often  the community shuts  down and  goes into                                                               
lockdown, and then school goes to  remote.  She explained that in                                                               
rural  Alaska, many  families live  in multi-generational  homes,                                                               
and that  access to  healthcare in limited.   She  commented that                                                               
this year  has strengthened partnerships within  the region's six                                                               
school districts through YKHC.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:30:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  cited access  to healthcare  as the  largest systemic                                                               
issue ASD  faces outside of school.   She shared that  ASD set up                                                               
the  first  mass-vaccination  clinic  in the  state  and  did  so                                                               
internally  to  help  teachers  and  those 65  and  older.    She                                                               
commented  that  while those  65  and  older have  Medicare,  the                                                               
access  issue is  in  knowing the  systems to  utilize  it.   She                                                               
shared that  ASD has given  over 30,000 vaccines.   She explained                                                               
that when  there is a  case in a  school, and  a child has  to go                                                               
home, ASD  will vaccinate the  entire family  in that home.   She                                                               
offered that recently 19 family members  showed up who lived in a                                                               
single home  with a  second grader.   She mentioned  the cultural                                                               
capital  needed to  understand the  manner in  which the  systems                                                               
work  and said  this  was  the largest  insight  ASD has  learned                                                               
during the pandemic as a school system.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:32:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRONK  relayed  a personal  experience  with  new                                                               
teachers in rural areas and said,  "It just didn't seem like they                                                               
had a real reality of what  they were actually getting into."  He                                                               
commented that  there were people  who were ready to  turn around                                                               
in  Bethal and  fly back  to Anchorage  to leave.   He  asked Ms.                                                               
Hankins what the district's "selling point" was to new teachers.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS   said  that  LKSD  strives   to  provide  excellent                                                               
professional  development   for  teachers   and  has   worked  to                                                               
implement  a   dual-language  enrichment  model  program   in  20                                                               
schools.  She said the  district wants an outcome of bilingualism                                                               
and biliteracy,  has done work  with place-based  curriculum, and                                                               
wants learning  to be  meaningful and  culturally relevant.   She                                                               
offered that this is discussed at  length with new teachers.  She                                                               
said LKSD  also provides opportunities  for staff  to participate                                                               
in culture  camps the  summer prior to  arriving in  the district                                                               
and   provides  additional   professional  development   for  new                                                               
teachers that  often involves  learning about  the culture.   She                                                               
asserted that teaching in rural Alaska  is "what you make of it,"                                                               
and suggested that being involved  in the local community is very                                                               
meaningful and enriches the experience.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS  referenced a  previous  question  and noted  LKSD's                                                               
partnership with  YKHC.   She said  throughout the  pandemic, the                                                               
Alaska  Superintendent  Association  (ASA)  has  been  incredibly                                                               
helpful.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:37:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY thanked  all three  superintendents for  speaking                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:38:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GILLHAM   asked   for  the   speakers'   contact                                                               
information, which Co-Chair story offered to share with him.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
        HB 25-PUBLIC SCHOOLS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:38:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be HB 25,  "An Act relating to  the duties of the  state Board of                                                               
Education and Early Development;  relating to statewide standards                                                               
for instruction  in social-emotional learning; and  providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:39:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS, as  prime sponsor  of HB  25, noted  the                                                               
relevance  of  the  previous  panel discussion.    He  said  each                                                               
superintendent  discussed the  need to  address students'  social                                                               
and  emotional concerns  and the  impacts from  that last  twelve                                                               
months.   He offered that HB  25 would create guidelines  to help                                                               
districts implement  new programs or  expand what was  already in                                                               
place.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS suggested  that many  of these  plans are                                                               
going to  have to be  implemented over  the next two  years using                                                               
American  Rescue  Plan   Act  funds.    He   said  [the  proposed                                                               
legislation  would  help  educators]  teach  things  like  coping                                                               
skills, resiliency, self-restraint,  cooperation, how to overcome                                                               
obstacles,  how to  set and  achieve goals,  how to  identify and                                                               
adjust  one's  own  emotions,  and   how  to  understand  others'                                                               
reactions  and  emotions.   He  stated  [these are  skills]  that                                                               
industry  wants   and  employers  seek.     He  noted   that  the                                                               
legislation does  not create any  mandates, but  school districts                                                               
want these standards in place.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  said social and emotional  skills are one                                                               
third of  Alaska's Education Challenge  under which  the Dunleavy                                                               
Administration has  been working.   He  noted that  the committee                                                               
had  heard  from DEED  that  this  is  the most  requested  topic                                                               
regarding professional  development for educators.   He said this                                                               
would include  working with families, and  supplement and support                                                               
the  home  environment.   He  concluded,  saying  HB 25  is  what                                                               
districts want, what  DEED was working towards,  and what parents                                                               
worried about during the school  closures of COVID-19.  He stated                                                               
that the proposed  legislation had a small fiscal  note and would                                                               
be partially paid for by the American Rescue Plan Act.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:44:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked for clarification on the fiscal note.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS answered  that the  fiscal note  includes                                                               
$6,000  for legal  work to  implement the  regulations, a  $1,500                                                               
stipend to pay  educators from around the state  who would travel                                                               
to develop standards,  and $30,000 to hire a  consultant to guide                                                               
the discussion.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:45:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:45 a.m. to 9:46: a.m.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:45:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  moved to  report HB 25  out of  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.  .                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:46:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX objected.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX said  he agreed  that the  skills emphasized                                                               
are important  to learn; however, he  said he was unsure  about a                                                               
number of things.  He  said the proposed legislation reminded him                                                               
of "missionary work,"  and referenced Article VII,  Section 1, of                                                               
the  Constitution of  the  State of  Alaska,  which includes  the                                                               
passage, "Schools  and institutions so established  shall be free                                                               
from  sectarian control.   No  money  shall be  paid from  public                                                               
funds for  the direct benefit  of any religious or  other private                                                               
educational  institution."    He acknowledged  that  this  likely                                                               
referenced licensed  religious institutions but argued  that this                                                               
was functional,  and the legislature  would be  imposing cultural                                                               
changes.    He  opined  that   the  state  should  not  establish                                                               
standards,  rather, [the  standards]  should develop  organically                                                               
and locally within families and communities.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX said in recent  Alaska history a "new culture                                                               
was  being imposed  on  an existing  culture."   He  said he  was                                                               
involved  with this  work in  the  1980s, and  he felt  it was  a                                                               
mistake to implement  rapid cultural change.  He  said he noticed                                                               
that  very  resilient people  were  "becoming  less resilient  by                                                               
focusing  deliberately  on  these   standards,  instead  of  just                                                               
letting these skills  develop organically."  He  argued that when                                                               
it started to be a  deliberate effort, people became "sanitized,"                                                               
and  work was  "less  enjoyable; we  were  more apprehensive  and                                                               
afraid of  each other and  not as able  to respond to  the little                                                               
challenges."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX argued  that  trying to  change culture  too                                                               
rapidly from the  top down is the wrong approach.   He referenced                                                               
testimony from  a previous meeting  and argued that the  ideas in                                                               
the proposed  legislation are  already being  implemented without                                                               
top-down direction.   He said he  felt Alaska would be  better in                                                               
the long  run if this were  to develop organically.   He asserted                                                               
that it  would be a  requirement, even  if it were  not mandated,                                                               
and referenced the enactment of COVID-19 safety protocols.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:52:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY commented that  she supports moving HB 25                                                               
from committee.   She considered  the proposed legislation  to be                                                               
both timely  and age appropriate  and said that it  considers the                                                               
diversity  of environments  outside of  the classroom  from which                                                               
students  originate.   She disputed  Representative Prax's  claim                                                               
that  this  was  similar  to   missionary  work  and  shared  her                                                               
experience as  an Alaska Native  woman whose family  was impacted                                                               
by colonization.   She said, "I take umbridge with  the fact that                                                               
... this  is being  classified as imposing  any sort  of cultural                                                               
changes."   She countered that HB  25 looked to develop  a set of                                                               
skills for  students to utilize  throughout their lives  and felt                                                               
it would  be inaccurate  to classify  it as  cultural integration                                                               
from the top down.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY  said that  the need  in Alaska  is great                                                               
[for social/emotional learning (SEL)  support] and commented that                                                               
there is  a big  gap in  behavioral health  support at  the state                                                               
level.   She  stated her  belief that  by investing  in resources                                                               
that provide  tools as  part of prevention,  the state  will save                                                               
money on  the "back end" of  treating Alaskans that are  going to                                                               
be in most  need of critical behavioral  health crisis resources,                                                               
or even correctional resources.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:56:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRONK  stated  he had  received  numerous  emails                                                               
against HB 25.   He opined that  "the number one thing  we can do                                                               
is get our kids back in school."   He argued that kids need to be                                                               
around other  kids, without plexiglass,  and back to normal.   He                                                               
said his experience  as a rural educator taught him  to listen to                                                               
local  needs  but  pointed  out  that HB  25  would  be  top-down                                                               
guidance, which he  opposes.  He said that  although he supported                                                               
school districts  locally, he  opposed the  proposed legislation,                                                               
because  he   believed  the  state  shouldn't   be  making  these                                                               
decisions.    He  summarized  his  argument that  he  is  a  firm                                                               
believer  in local  control  because  different communities  have                                                               
different beliefs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:58:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY   commented  that  her  understanding   was  that                                                               
learning requires  dealing with  social and emotional  needs, but                                                               
many districts do  not have guidelines in  place for instruction.                                                               
She shared that  she saw the proposed legislation  as a mechanism                                                               
to provide that.   She argued that with  local control, districts                                                               
would  have a  set of  guidelines  from best  practices that  the                                                               
districts could choose how to use.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:59:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  reiterated that the  proposed legislation                                                               
was not a  mandate, rather it would set standards  that are meant                                                               
to be flexible for school districts  at the local level.  He said                                                               
it was districts at the  lower level that requested the standards                                                               
be put in place, in order  to help with expanding curriculums and                                                               
providing professional development.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS said that  he agreed that getting students                                                               
back in school is one of  the most important things that could be                                                               
done.   He commented that  students spend  most of their  days in                                                               
school settings,  and that knowing  how to interact  is critical,                                                               
especially after  a year away.   He argued that HB  25 would make                                                               
those interactions  better, healthier,  and more productive.   He                                                               
stated this was  not a top-down directive; it  was guidelines for                                                               
districts to use,  which is a bottom-up approach  that allows for                                                               
local control.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS nodded  to a  previous conversation  with                                                               
Representative  Prax and  acknowledged  that it  is difficult  to                                                               
teach older  adults in  the workforce  new skills  and to  have a                                                               
cultural shift  in a workplace  overnight.  He argued  that those                                                               
skills must be taught earlier.   He said helping school districts                                                               
know how  to guide educators  and teach those skills  to children                                                               
is the best way to ensure it is  not a "fast shift" and to ensure                                                               
that students have the skills when they reach the workplace.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:03:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Zulkosky, Hopkins,                                                               
Drummond, and Story voted in favor  of the motion to report HB 25                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
attached fiscal notes.  Representatives  Prax, Cronk, and Gillham                                                               
voted  against it.   Therefore,  HB 25  was reported  out of  the                                                               
House Education Standing Committee by a vote of 4-3.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:05:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:05 am.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Topics & Questions.pdf HEDC 4/14/2021 8:00:00 AM