Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/22/1994 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
           HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                         
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                         March 22, 1994                                        
                            3:00 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Rep. Cynthia Toohey, Co-Chair                                                
  Rep. Con Bunde, Co-Chair                                                     
  Rep. Gary Davis, Vice Chair                                                  
  Rep. Al Vezey                                                                
  Rep. Pete Kott                                                               
  Rep. Harley Olberg                                                           
  Rep. Bettye Davis                                                            
  Rep. Irene Nicholia                                                          
  Rep. Tom Brice                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  None                                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  HB 412:   "An Act relating to facilities for the care of                     
            children; to child placement agencies; to                          
            maternity homes; to certain residential facilities                 
            for adults; and to foster homes for adults; and                    
            providing for an effective date."                                  
                                                                               
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
  *HJR 54:  Relating to medical savings account legislation.                   
                                                                               
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
  *HB 533:  "An Act increasing the amount of local                             
            contributions that may be made to a city or                        
            borough school district under the foundation                       
            formula; and providing for an effective date."                     
                                                                               
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
  *HB 521:  "An Act relating to judicial review of decisions                   
            of school boards relating to nonretention or                       
            dismissal of teachers."                                            
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD                                                     
                                                                               
  (* First public hearing.)                                                    
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  PAT O'BRIEN                                                                  
  Social Services Program Officer                                              
  Division of Family and Youth Services                                        
  Department of Health and Social Services                                     
  P.O. Box 110630                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99811-0630                                                    
  Phone:  (907) 465-2145                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified in support of HB 412                          
                                                                               
  DUANE GUILEY, Director                                                       
  Division of Education Finance and Support Services                           
  Department of Education                                                      
  801 W. 10th St.                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                    
  Phone:  (907) 465-2891                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified on HB 533                                     
                                                                               
  CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President                                                   
  National Education Association/Alaska                                        
  114 Second St.                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  Phone:  (907) 586-3090                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified in opposition to HB 521                       
                                                                               
  CARL ROSE, Executive Director                                                
  Association of Alaska School Boards                                          
  316 W. 11th St.                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  Phone:  (907) 586-1083                                                       
  Position statement:  Testified in support of HB 521                          
                                                                               
  LARRY WIGET                                                                  
  Legislative Liaison                                                          
  Anchorage School District                                                    
  4600 DeBarr Road                                                             
  Anchorage, Alaska 99508-3195                                                 
  Phone:  (907) 269-2255                                                       
  Position statement:  Testified in support of HB 521                          
                       (spoke via teleconference)                              
  RICHARD SWARNER                                                              
  Executive Director, Business Management                                      
  Kenai Peninsula Borough School District                                      
  144 N. Binkley                                                               
  Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                       
  Phone:  (907) 262-5846                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified in support of HB 521                          
                       (spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  JIM SIMEROTH, Teacher                                                        
  Kenai Middle School                                                          
  811 Auk St. #5                                                               
  Kenai, Alaska 99611                                                          
  Phone:  (907) 283-4896                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified in opposition to HB 521                       
                       (spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  JOHN HOLST, Superintendent                                                   
  Sitka School District                                                        
  P.O. Box 179                                                                 
  Sitka, Alaska 99836                                                          
  Phone:  (907) 747-8622                                                       
  Position statement:  Testified in support of HB 521                          
                       (spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  TOM EVERITT, Personnel Director                                              
  North Slope Borough School District                                          
  P.O. Box 169                                                                 
  Barrow, Alaska 99723                                                         
  Phone:  (907) 852-5311                                                       
  Position Statement:  Testified in support of HB 521                          
                       (spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 412                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: COMMUNITY CARE FACILITIES                                       
  SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                 
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/28/94      2177    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/28/94      2178    (H)   HES, FINANCE                                     
  01/28/94      2178    (H)   -FISCAL NOTE (DHSS) 1/28/94                      
  01/28/94      2178    (H)   GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                    
  03/14/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
  03/14/94              (H)   MINUTE(HES)                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HJR 54                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: SUPPORT MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCT LEGIS                              
  BILL VERSION: SSHJR 54                                                       
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) KOTT,B.Davis                                   
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  02/07/94      2282    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  02/07/94      2282    (H)   HES, FINANCE                                     
  03/11/94      2742    (H)   B.DAVIS WITHDREW AS PRIME                        
                              SPONSOR                                          
  03/11/94      2742    (H)   COSPONSOR(S):  B.DAVIS                           
  03/11/94      2742    (H)   KOTT WITHDREW AS FIRST COSPONSOR                 
  03/11/94      2742    (H)   PRIME SPONSOR:  KOTT                             
  03/18/94      2868    (H)   SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE                               
                              INTRODUCED-REFERRALS                             
  03/18/94      2868    (H)   HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL                       
                              SERVICES                                         
  03/22/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 533                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: ALLOWABLE LOCAL EFFORT FOR SCHOOL FUNDING                       
  SPONSOR(S): HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                            
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  03/16/94      2835    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  03/16/94      2835    (H)   HES, STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                      
  03/22/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 521                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: JUDICIAL REVIEW:TEACHER TENURE DECISIONS                        
  SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS                                                    
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  03/09/94      2683    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  03/09/94      2683    (H)   HES, JUDICIARY                                   
  03/22/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-59, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m., noted                 
  members present and announced the calendar.  She indicated                   
  that there would be teleconference testimony beginning at                    
  3:45 p.m. for HB 521.  She brought HB 412 to the table.                      
  HB 412 - COMMUNITY CARE FACILITIES                                           
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked Pat O'Brien to testify.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 036                                                                   
                                                                               
  PAT O'BRIEN, Social Services Program Officer, Division of                    
  Family and Youth Services (DFYS), Department of Health and                   
  Social Services (DHSS), testified in support of HB 412.  She                 
  stated there had been amendments made to the legislation                     
  including additional cross-references drafted by Terri                       
  Lauterbach and the DHSS was comfortable with the legislation                 
  as written.  She offered to answer questions.                                
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY indicated that the committee should have a copy                 
  of the committee substitute (CS) dated 3/16/94 version E.                    
  She then asked if there were any questions for Ms. O'Brien.                  
                                                                               
  Number 100                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. OLBERG asked if the legislation would save the state                    
  money.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 101                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. O'BRIEN explained that savings is the focus of the bill.                 
  She stated that currently the DHSS has an overloaded                         
  licensing staff that has difficulty meeting expected                         
  standards for the ratio of licensors to the number of                        
  facilities they license.  She said the DHSS does not expect                  
  to hire more staff, so the only option is to combine a                       
  number of varying standards into the statute that will ease                  
  the workload of the licensors.  She further explained that                   
  both private agencies that perform licensing and licensing                   
  supervisors across the state support the effort as an                        
  important efficiency measure.                                                
                                                                               
  REP. OLBERG asked if money will be saved because more people                 
  will not be hired.                                                           
                                                                               
  MS. O'BRIEN asserted that the DHSS will do more with the                     
  same resources or less.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 143                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS asked if Chair Toohey wanted to hear further                   
  testimony.                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY said it was her intent to discuss the proposal                  
  and move it out of committee.                                                
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS made a motion to pass HB 412 out of committee                  
  with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.                    
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY, hearing no objections, declared that HB 412                    
  was so moved.  She then brought HJR 54 to the table.                         
  HJR 54 - SUPPORT MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT LEGISLATION                         
                                                                               
  Number 185                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT made a motion to move the Sponsor Substitute for                   
  HJR 54 out of committee with individual recommendations.  He                 
  stated that the joint resolution was a simple measure that                   
  requests Congress to review the tax codes and to make minor                  
  changes to support the medical account savings legislation.                  
  He indicated that the medical savings account is like an IRA                 
  account.  He said the plan has been adopted in 15 other                      
  states and has been very effective.  He explained that                       
  because the other states have income tax they are able to                    
  offer some relief to those that offer a medical savings                      
  program.  He said Alaska does not have income tax and that                   
  is why the legislation requests Congress to change their tax                 
  codes accordingly.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 259                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked if the legislation relates directly with                  
  income tax.                                                                  
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT said it would be beneficial to receive the full                    
  benefit of the resolution.  He said for that to happen,                      
  Congress must adjust the tax codes for those who use the                     
  medical savings accounts.  He said Alaska needs tax deferral                 
  status.  He explained that because the account is similar to                 
  an IRA account there would be a 10% penalty for taking money                 
  from the account if the funds are not used for medical                       
  purposes.                                                                    
                                                                               
  (Chair Toohey stated for the record that Rep. G. Davis                       
  arrived at 3:08 p.m., Representatives Brice and Nicholia                     
  arrived at 3:10 p.m., and Representative B. Davis arrived at                 
  3:05 p.m.)                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 316                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. VEZEY stated that the resolve of the resolution would                   
  be one of the most important steps in health care.  He urged                 
  the committee to support the resolution.                                     
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS made a motion to move the sponsor substitute                   
  for HJR 54 out of committee with individual recommendations                  
  and attached zero fiscal note.                                               
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY, hearing no objections, indicated that SSHJR 54                 
  was so moved.  She then took an at-ease from 3:14 p.m. to                    
  3:16 p.m.                                                                    
  Number 359                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY brought HB 533 to the table and said it was not                 
  her intent to move the bill out of committee that day.  She                  
  asked Duane Guiley to come forward to answer questions.                      
                                                                               
  HB 533 - ALLOWABLE EFFORT FOR SCHOOL FUNDING                                 
                                                                               
  DUANE GUILEY, Director, Division of Education Finance and                    
  Support Services, Department of Education, testified on HB
  533.  He stated that the legislation would provide an                        
  opportunity for districts to assist in the budget process of                 
  running schools with locally contributed dollars without                     
  putting additional burden on the state of Alaska.  He                        
  indicated that under current state statute, the maximum                      
  amount that a district can contribute is 23% of the current                  
  year's basic need as adjusted for the actual appropriation,                  
  or the prorated dollar amount of basic need.                                 
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY indicated that the reason for the cap is so that                  
  the state of Alaska stays in compliance with the federal                     
  test, in order to recognize $43 million of federal impact                    
  aid in the state formula.  He maintained that the bill                       
  proposes to raise the cap to the federal limit of 25%.  He                   
  explained that the actual local contribution is not known                    
  until after the year is closed out and audits are received                   
  by the Department of Education (DOE).  At that time, the DOE                 
  calculates the actual disparity amount and makes adjustments                 
  to school district's total state aid.  He indicated that the                 
  DOE had just completed adjustments for the 1993 fiscal year                  
  in the month of March 1994.  He said if the limit is raised                  
  to 25%, the state would be asking districts to retroactively                 
  return any excess local contribution to the municipality or                  
  borough after the year has ended and the money is expended.                  
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY further explained that in the past the cap has                    
  been less than 23%.  He said when the bill that created the                  
  current foundation formula passed in 1987, the cap was 21%.                  
  Based upon the request of local school districts, to raise                   
  that cap to allow for additional contributions, the bill was                 
  amended and raised to 23%.  He indicated that if the cap is                  
  raised to 25%, there is additional capacity provided to                      
  districts throughout the state that would total $11,397,318.                 
  He said, "That again is the amount of additional capacity                    
  that would be afforded to local municipalities and boroughs,                 
  additional contributions to the budget, and staying within                   
  the 25% level."                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 453                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS asked for clarification regarding                              
  municipalities asking for rebates up to a certain amount.                    
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY explained that the disparity standard controls                    
  the actual limit in order for the state to stay in                           
  compliance with federal law.  He said once the audits are                    
  submitted, the process of confirming actual local revenues                   
  begins.  He indicated that prior to that time the DOA works                  
  from the budgeted number.  He said if a district actually                    
  contributes more than they are allowed under law, the DOA                    
  asks the district to refund local money.                                     
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS said she understood.                                           
                                                                               
  Number 482                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE said he had heard that the 25% might cause some                   
  concern regarding federal regulation.  He asked Mr. Guiley                   
  why 25% is a better level for the legislation.                               
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY indicated that under current statute, the cap is                  
  at 23%.  He said the DOE has already gone on record                          
  supporting an increase to as high as 24% and have indicated                  
  that under the current disparity calculation it is not                       
  problematic in relation to the federal regulation.  By                       
  raising the limit to the full 25%, the state may be put in a                 
  situation where districts would be asked to retroactively                    
  return local dollars or put them out of compliance with                      
  state statute which would keep them from receiving any state                 
  aid.                                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY further explained that the choice a local school                  
  district has is to continue to receive the excess local                      
  dollars and forfeit 100% of their state aid or give back a                   
  minimal of excess local dollars that put them over the 25%                   
  cap should the legislation pass.  He pointed out the bar                     
  graph schedule supplied in the committee bill packets and                    
  explained that it demonstrates the effects of the cap.  He                   
  pointed out that the white bar indicates the four mill                       
  minimum contribution.  He explained that the three                           
  exceptions to the rule are North Slope, Unalaska, and                        
  Valdez.  He said their four mill contribution exceeds 35% of                 
  basic need and therefore a different cap applies to those                    
  districts.  He indicated that the shaded bar represents the                  
  maximum allowable excess.  He stated that the district of                    
  Hoonah contributes absolutely all they can to their local                    
  budget.  He indicated that where there are black diamonds at                 
  the top of shaded bars, it represents the districts that                     
  would benefit from the legislation.  He said those districts                 
  could choose to assist their schools with a greater amount                   
  of local contribution without fear of losing state aid.                      
                                                                               
  Number 556                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE stated that he supported the bill as it would                     
  encourage local support for school districts at a time when                  
  the state has to do more with less.  He said federal                         
  regulation keeps the state from going beyond 25% and the                     
  state should allow and encourage districts to come as close                  
  to 25% as possible.                                                          
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked Mr. Guiley if the areas affected by the                   
  legislation would have to vote on the issue or would it be                   
  an automatic option.                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY indicated that if the revenue is available to a                   
  municipality or borough, through their budgeting process                     
  they would provide an amount requested by the local school                   
  district.  Under state statute, school districts must                        
  provide their request to the municipality by April 1.  He                    
  said once the request is provided, the district has 30 days                  
  to act on it through their budget process.  He indicated                     
  that the money may be available already to the local                         
  municipality without an increase tax revenue or other                        
  sources of revenue.  If the money is not available, it might                 
  result in additional tax increases through sales tax, bed                    
  receipts, fish tax, federal forest receipts, or any other                    
  source of revenue to meet the need if they have the desire.                  
                                                                               
  Number 612                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY stated for the record that she rescinded her                    
  statement that the bill would not be moved out of committee                  
  that day.                                                                    
                                                                               
  REP. G. DAVIS indicated that some local taxes need tax payer                 
  approval and some assemblies and council have the authority                  
  to raise taxes without voter approval.  He said it depended                  
  on what tax they want to obtain it from and how their                        
  ordinances read.                                                             
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE observed that nothing in the proposal requires                    
  local taxes to be raised.  He said it allows those that                      
  would like to assume more responsibility for their school                    
  district to do so.  He reminded the committee that the state                 
  may not fully fund education this year and that local                        
  municipalities could assume some of that responsibility if                   
  they choose to do so.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 640                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. NICHOLIA asked what type of impact the formula would                    
  have on school districts, single sight school districts, and                 
  REAAs in rural areas.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 645                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY stated that the proposal would provide an equal                   
  opportunity for all organized municipalities and boroughs to                 
  provide additional support to their school districts.  He                    
  said there is no opportunity for local contributions                         
  regarding REAAs.  He indicated that the state of Alaska                      
  funds basic need at 100% in the case of REAAs without a                      
  local contribution requirement.                                              
                                                                               
  REP. NICHOLIA asked what impact the legislation would have                   
  on Galena or the Tanana city school district.                                
                                                                               
  Number 671                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY directed the committee's attention to the                         
  schedule included in the bill packets that indicates that                    
  Galena could contribute an additional $14,756 at a 1%                        
  increase which would be 24% total.  He said under the                        
  proposal Galena could contribute an additional $29,512 if                    
  they are already at the cap.  He said, currently, Galena is                  
  not at the cap so they do have additional contribution                       
  capacity within existing statute.                                            
                                                                               
  REP. NICHOLIA asked Mr. Guiley if he has been in contact                     
  with Galena so they could comment on the formula.                            
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY responded he had not been in contact with any                     
  specific district so that they might comment, but he                         
  indicated that attached to the sponsor statement is a                        
  schedule of what Galena currently contributes to the local                   
  school district.  He asserted that under the existing                        
  statute, the total allowable excess is $360,000 over the                     
  required local effort, giving a total allowable contribution                 
  of $440,000 compared to the $253,000 that Galena currently                   
  budgets.  He said Galena may not benefit from the statute                    
  because they are not currently contributing at the cap but                   
  may find themselves in that situation in the future.                         
                                                                               
  Number 711                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. NICHOLIA stated that she had concerns regarding the                     
  legislation.  She indicated that HB 533 was first introduced                 
  March 16, 1994, while she was attending a conference in                      
  Fairbanks.  She said she had not had time to speak to her                    
  school districts about the bill.                                             
                                                                               
  Number 721                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE reiterated that the legislation does not require                  
  local districts to do anything, it allows them to take                       
  responsibility if they wish.                                                 
                                                                               
  REP. VEZEY observed that there are not very many areas that                  
  will be affected by the legislation.                                         
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY clarified that the bill provides opportunity to                   
  districts that have the desire to contribute more.  He said,                 
  "So those districts that are currently at the cap, or in the                 
  event if we have proration, the cap is applied to the                        
  prorated dollar amount.  That would change the schedule                      
  somewhat and more districts would find themselves closer to                  
  that cap.  So, especially in the event of proration, you may                 
  find more districts than what are indicated here in the                      
  position to take advantage of this legislation, should it                    
  pass."                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 758                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. VEZEY asked if his observation is wrong, as he saw only                 
  three or four communities currently that would benefit from                  
  the bill.                                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. GUILEY said Rep. Vezey is correct.  He stated that                       
  historically Ketchikan, Kenai, Fairbanks, and Juneau have                    
  been the four districts that have repeatedly contributed                     
  very close to the cap.                                                       
                                                                               
  REP. G. DAVIS offered to Rep. Vezey that the legislation                     
  would allow those districts that are in "dire straits" to                    
  gain more funding.                                                           
                                                                               
  REP. B. DAVIS indicated that there may be only a few                         
  districts at the cap currently, but in the future other                      
  districts would have the opportunity to rise to that                         
  maximum, especially if state funding is cut back.  She said,                 
  "Anchorage, for example, does not reach the cap that's set                   
  by, we reach the artificial cap that we have in our city,                    
  but not what's set here.  But, that would give us an                         
  opportunity to do it should there be a need to do it."  She                  
  reiterated that the legislation would be beneficial to other                 
  districts in the future.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 805                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE made a motion to pass HB 533 out of committee                     
  with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal                      
  note.                                                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked if there were any objections.                             
                                                                               
  REP. OLBERG objected.                                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY called for the vote.  Reps. Toohey, Bunde, G.                   
  Davis, Vezey, B. Davis, Nicholia, and Brice voted "Yea" and                  
  Rep. Olberg voted "Nay."  Chair Toohey declared that HB 533                  
  was so moved.                                                                
                                                                               
  (Chair Toohey handed the gavel over to Rep. Bunde to preside                 
  over the remainder of the meeting.)                                          
                                                                               
  Number 845                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE indicated that there would be teleconference                     
  testimony starting at 3:45 p.m.                                              
                                                                               
  (Chair Bunde took a brief at-ease from 3:30 until 3:45 p.m.                  
  to accommodate teleconference testimony.)                                    
  CHAIR BUNDE reconvened at 3:45 p.m.  He brought HB 521 to                    
  the table and indicated that there would be teleconference                   
  testimony.                                                                   
                                                                               
  HB 521 - JUDICIAL REVIEW:  TEACHER TENURE DECISIONS                          
                                                                               
  Number 866                                                                   
                                                                               
  CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President, National Education                               
  Association/Alaska (NEA/AK), testified in Juneau in                          
  opposition to HB 521.  She stated the legislation would end                  
  the right of a dismissed, tenured teacher to obtain a trial                  
  de novo, or new trial, before a Superior Court judge and                     
  would only be allowed to ask a judge to consider whether the                 
  school board afforded the teacher due process.  She further                  
  indicated that a teacher's right to a jury trial would be                    
  precluded.                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. DOUGLAS indicated that in 1975 the Supreme Court stated,                 
  "It is well known that the composition of many school boards                 
  is not such as to endow them with fact-finding expertise in                  
  matters of teacher nonretention."  Also in 1977 the court                    
  observed that, "There is no question that a judicial body,                   
  often further removed from the political pressures involved                  
  in teacher nonretention dispute, will provide more objective                 
  perspective of the proceedings."                                             
                                                                               
  MS. DOUGLAS further indicated that the bill would require                    
  judges to treat school board decisions in the same manner as                 
  judges treat decisions of such neutral, expert agencies as                   
  the Workers Compensation Board, the Professional Teaching                    
  Practices Commission, the Board of Fisheries and the Board                   
  of Game.  She said those agencies are specialized bodies                     
  which have the "fact-finding expertise" which the Supreme                    
  Court has said school boards lack in matters of teacher                      
  nonretention.  She also asserted that it is nearly                           
  impossible to obtain a fair hearing from school boards                       
  because they often "rubber stamp" the recommendations of                     
  administrators.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 929                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Douglas to leave her written testimony                 
  with the committee secretary.  He asked for testimony from                   
  Carl Rose.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 938                                                                   
                                                                               
  CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School                  
  Boards (AASB), testified in Juneau in support of HB 521.  He                 
  stated that he had provided the committee with a written                     
  statement as well as correspondence from member districts.                   
  He noted that during this time of financial difficulty the                   
  state has to look at how it conducts business and the costs                  
  that are incurred as result of decisions made.  He stated                    
  that dollars targeted for the classroom are being spent in                   
  the legal arena regarding nonretention.  He felt that if                     
  there is any question regarding due process or lack thereof,                 
  a Superior Court should examine the case.                                    
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE further indicated that if an objective review is                    
  provided, and also a fair and impartial hearing is provided,                 
  there should be no reason for a new trial.  A record and a                   
  body of knowledge is created at the local level regarding                    
  the case.  He said if that hearing is unsatisfactory to a                    
  teacher, they have the right to request a new trial.  The                    
  facts of that hearing will be the basis upon which those                     
  involved will prepare for a new trial.  He felt the process                  
  puts the school districts at a disadvantage, expenses                        
  increase, and the burden of proof still lies with the school                 
  district.                                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE asserted that the right to due process should be                    
  protected by law.  But, he said he had great concerns if a                   
  case has to be retried after the facts have been brought                     
  forth by a hearing process.                                                  
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE directed the committee's attention to information                   
  included in the bill packets that relate various expenses                    
  that some school districts have incurred as a result of de                   
  novo trials.  He reiterated that dollars should be going                     
  into the classrooms and not being diverted to pay for legal                  
  fees.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 014                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Rose if he felt school boards rubber                   
  stamp the recommendations of their administrators.                           
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE replied that administrators are hired for certain                   
  functions, including the recommending of nonretention in                     
  appropriate situations, and school boards, more than likely,                 
  will heed those recommendations.  He further indicated that                  
  school districts usually seek legal counsel during the                       
  hearing process before problems are created.  He also stated                 
  that he was aware of recommendations of nonretention that                    
  have come forward from administration and subsequently have                  
  not been taken under consideration by the local school                       
  board.                                                                       
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked if the issue was more about money than                     
  going to trial.  He also said if the case is won in the                      
  first trial, chances are the facts won't change in the                       
  second trial and the district would prevail again.                           
                                                                               
  Number 052                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE indicated that money is an issue and also that the                  
  burden of proof lies with the school district.  He said,                     
  "the burden of proof is on the school district.  And, if you                 
  go to two separate trials and you basically lay out your                     
  strategy at a hearing level, safe to say that the opposition                 
  gets to prepare a case for you and meet you in a separate,                   
  new trial.  I think there is a disadvantage.  The school                     
  board is bound, but they can't change the list of                            
  particulars.  When you state your list of particulars and                    
  your reasons for nonretention, you can't change those."                      
                                                                               
  MR. ROSE further indicated that there is a "chilling effect"                 
  on administrators after a tremendous amount of money has                     
  been spent and quite a bit of time has passed due to a de                    
  novo trial and the district does not prevail.  He stated                     
  that administrators are fearful to pursue another                            
  nonretention case for fear it will not "stick" over the                      
  course of time.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 082                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for teleconference testimony.                              
                                                                               
  Number 083                                                                   
                                                                               
  LARRY WIGET, Legislative Liaison, Anchorage School District,                 
  testified via teleconference in support of HB 521.  He                       
  stated that the testimony he was giving was provided by the                  
  executive director of Labor Relations, Lee Wilson.  He said                  
  the current provisions of AS 14.20.205 grant Alaskan                         
  teachers a measure of security unheard of in other                           
  employment arenas.  That security makes it very difficult                    
  for the school districts to remove any teachers "whose                       
  performance insults public expectations and inhibits student                 
  growth."                                                                     
                                                                               
  MR. WIGET indicated that teachers who have been judged unfit                 
  for duty by school boards, after lengthy and formal                          
  evidential hearings, have the option to begin the process                    
  all over again in Superior Court.  He said the second trial                  
  typically occurs more than a year after the hearing before                   
  the school board, thus increasing the difficulty and cost of                 
  securing testimony from witnesses who may be out of the                      
  state or country.  He stated that recently the Anchorage                     
  school district first spent $20,000 to prevail before a                      
  hearing officer and then was forced to expend an additional                  
  $100,000 only to achieve the same result in Superior Court.                  
  He further explained that all witnesses had to testify again                 
  and that all arguments, all discovery, and all briefs were                   
  recreated and submitted to the judge.                                        
                                                                               
  MR. WIGET asserted that HB 521 would protect teachers by                     
  giving them access to court review of an administrative                      
  judgement.  He said in order for a decision made by a                        
  hearing officer to be overturned by a court, the appealing                   
  party is required to demonstrate that a substantial error in                 
  fact or law was made, hence the burden of proof rests                        
  clearly on the appellant.  He further reiterated that HB 521                 
  will prohibit completely unwarranted second evidentiary                      
  proceedings in Superior Court.                                               
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-59, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked if there were any questions for Mr. Wiget.                 
                                                                               
  REP. TOOHEY, for clarification, asked Mr. Wiget if there is                  
  no other collective bargaining unit in the state that allows                 
  for a de novo trial.                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. WIGET said it was his understanding that HB 521 would                    
  put teachers on equal footing with other state represented                   
  employees.                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. TOOHEY felt that Mr. Wiget's position was reasonable.                   
                                                                               
  Number 024                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE referred to the scenario Mr. Wiget spoke of                      
  where a school district paid an additional $100,000 for a                    
  new trial.  He asked if the school district prevailed.                       
                                                                               
  MR. WIGET said yes.                                                          
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for teleconference testimony from Kenai.                   
                                                                               
  Number 038                                                                   
                                                                               
  RICHARD SWARNER, Executive Director, Business Management,                    
  Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, testified via                       
  teleconference in support of HB 521.  He stated that the                     
  Kenai school district had recently undergone a de novo trial                 
  for nonretention of a tenured teacher at a cost of $74,000.                  
  He indicated that the cost is an exorbitant yet "normal                      
  price" for the additional process.  He asserted if HB 521                    
  had been law at the time of the second trial, the costs                      
  would have totaled $20,000 to $25,000.  He felt the                          
  legislation would be a cost containment measure and would                    
  maintain a teacher's right to due process.  Mr. Swarner                      
  further indicated that there are also additional costs                       
  incurred as administrators must devote more time for                         
  preparing for and participating in a de novo trial.                          
                                                                               
  MR. SWARNER directed the committee's attention to a letter                   
  in their bill packets from SHARON RADTKE, Executive                          
  Director, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, to CARL                   
  ROSE.  He said the correspondence further details the                        
  testimony of Mr. Rose and Mr. Wiget.  He strongly urged the                  
  passage of HB 521.                                                           
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked, if the Kenai district had a more                          
  effective tenure review process, would it have been                          
  necessary to take the teacher to court?                                      
                                                                               
  MR. SWARNER said that was a difficult question to determine.                 
  He said the district does not take teachers to court very                    
  often.  He indicated the last court case was in the early                    
  1980's and the cost was approximately $50,000.  He stated                    
  that in the most recent court case, the district did not                     
  prevail and asserted that they would take the case to the                    
  Supreme Court which will cost another $20,000.                               
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for further testimony.                                     
                                                                               
  Number 131                                                                   
                                                                               
  JIM SIMEROTH, Teacher, Kenai Middle School, testified via                    
  teleconference in opposition to HB 521.  He stated that the                  
  legislation would take away a basic right of a teacher to a                  
  fair trial.  He asserted that not all school boards are                      
  unbiased in their decisions.  Due process does not always                    
  ensure fair treatment.  He said if cost is an issue, it has                  
  been his experience that costs incurred by a school district                 
  are the result of some type of inadequate administrative                     
  procedures.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 171                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for testimony from Sitka.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 172                                                                   
                                                                               
  JOHN HOLST, Superintendent, Sitka School District, testified                 
  via teleconference in support of HB 521.  He stated that                     
  those who are in opposition presume that there is a lack of                  
  due process.  He said, "that couldn't be further from the                    
  truth."  He indicated that there is no intention on the part                 
  of any school board or administrator to "do away" with due                   
  process provisions.  Currently, the system is duplicative                    
  and adds unwarranted costs to the process.  He asserted that                 
  no strength is added to due process by allowing de novo                      
  trials.  Due process is protected under HB 521 and any                       
  teacher can ask a Superior Court judge to determine whether                  
  or not their rights have been violated.                                      
                                                                               
  MR. HOLST said the Sitka School District is currently                        
  involved in a case that has been remanded from the Supreme                   
  Court back down to the Superior Court.  The district thought                 
  the case had been decided a few years ago.  He indicated                     
  that a letter included in the committee bill packets                         
  outlines the costs to the district as well as their                          
  insurance carrier.                                                           
                                                                               
  MR. HOLST further stated that there are tremendous costs                     
  involved in the initial development of a nonretention case                   
  and that it can take up to 70% of an administrator's time.                   
  He felt the protections afforded to tenure teachers under                    
  current statute "are about as iron-clad as they could be                     
  without even adding the de novo trial."  He strongly urged                   
  the passage of HB 521.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 261                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE said he assumed that Mr. Holst is not a teacher.                 
                                                                               
  Number 262                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. HOLST said he is the superintendent of the Sitka School                  
  District.                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for testimony from Barrow.                                 
                                                                               
  Number 265                                                                   
                                                                               
  TOM EVERITT, Personnel Director, North Slope Borough School                  
  District, testified via teleconference in support of HB 521.                 
  He stated that he had spent seven years in the Anchorage                     
  School District as a director of labor relations handling                    
  any type of case having to do with the dismissal of                          
  teachers.  He said he began a career in collective                           
  bargaining in 1965 and understands due process from working                  
  "both sides of the fence."  He asserted that the legislation                 
  in no way takes away teacher due process.  He indicated that                 
  the hearings held by school boards are very much like legal                  
  proceedings where witnesses are sworn under oath and                         
  testimony and legal representation is allowed.  He said the                  
  procedure is conducted exactly as if it were in a court                      
  room.  He said in the case of a de nova trial it is the                      
  exact process again.                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. EVERITT related a case that had just been completed                      
  where the board brought a hearing officer to Barrow to                       
  oversee the board as to ensure that the proceedings were                     
  handled in "a very legal way."  He said the hearing officer                  
  wrote the decision for the board and the procedure was                       
  conducted according to all legal processes.  He indicated                    
  that the case went to a de novo trial and the district's                     
  expense was $126,000.  The district is still awaiting the                    
  decision.  He guessed that whatever the decision will be,                    
  the case will go to the Supreme Court.                                       
                                                                               
  MR. EVERITT supported the concept of a judge reviewing the                   
  records of the hearing before the school board and                           
  determining whether or not the process was carried out in a                  
  proper and legal manner as to avoid the de novo trial                        
  completely.  He also supported the right to due process.                     
                                                                               
  MR. EVERITT related another case where a teacher was                         
  terminated for incompetence.  He stated that $29,000 in                      
  attorneys fees were spent in preparing for the case.  He                     
  then indicated that the insurance company which represented                  
  the district settled with the teacher for just under                         
  $60,000.  He said the insurance company had just finished                    
  paying $126,000 for the previous case and felt it would be                   
  easier and cheaper to pay the teacher than to go through                     
  another trial.  He asserted that the district was fortunate                  
  that it had insurance coverage, but indicated they fully                     
  expect to be cancelled by the insurance company as a result                  
  of two very large claims.  He said the district now would be                 
  wholly responsible for all legal expenses.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 389                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Everitt if he was related to John                      
  Everitt.                                                                     
                                                                               
  MR. EVERITT said no and that he had never met him when he                    
  was in the Anchorage school district.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 390                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for further testimony.  There was none.                    
  He then indicated that there had not been enough testimony                   
  from teachers on the issue.  He said he would keep the                       
  legislation under advisement until he ascertained the                        
  general position of teachers.                                                
                                                                               
  Seeing no further business before the committee CHAIR BUNDE                  
  adjourned the meeting at 4:12 p.m.                                           

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