Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/07/1999 03:20 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE April 7, 1999 3:20 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Norman Rokeberg, Chairman Representative Andrew Halcro, Vice Chairman Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Lisa Murkowski Representative John Harris Representative Tom Brice Representative Sharon Cissna MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 129 "An Act excluding school principals from collectively bargaining under the Public Employment Relations Act." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 158 "An Act relating to the annual report of the director of the division of insurance and to notice of cancellation of personal insurance." - HEARD AND HELD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 129 SHORT TITLE: COLLECTIVE BARGAINING; PRINCIPALS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) OGAN, Kohring Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 3/05/99 368 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/05/99 368 (H) HES, L&C 3/27/99 (H) HES AT 10:00 AM CAPITOL 106 3/27/99 (H) MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE 3/27/99 (H) MINUTE(HES) 3/29/99 600 (H) HES RPT 2DP 2NR 3/29/99 600 (H) DP: DYSON, COGHILL; NR: MORGAN, 3/29/99 600 (H) WHITAKER 3/29/99 600 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (ADM) 3/29/99 600 (H) REFERRED TO L&C 4/07/99 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 158 SHORT TITLE: NOTICE OF INS. CANCELLATION TO ELDERLY SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) ROKEBERG Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 3/24/99 556 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/24/99 556 (H) L&C, JUD 4/07/99 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 128 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3878 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 129 as the bill sponsor. DR. ROBERT LEHMAN, Superintendent Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District 125 West Evergreen Avenue Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 746-9255 POSITION STATEMENT: Testimony read into the record which indicated that passage of HB 129 would be a "landmark" in the efforts to stop the decline of Alaska's educational system and improve the quality of instruction. GREG DANIELS, Executive Director Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals 426 Rogers Road Kenai, Alaska 99611 Telephone: (907) 283-7918 POSITION STATEMENT: Read a joint resolution from the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals and Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals in opposition to HB 129. ANDRE' LAYRAL, President Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP); Principal, North Pole Middle School; Alaska Council of School Administrators 300 E. 8th Ave. North Pole, Alaska 99705 Telephone: (907) 488-2271 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129 representing the AASSP executive board. GLEN SYZMONIAK Kenai Peninsula Administrative Association Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals P.O. Box 1431 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-2569 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. FRED GIDDINGS, Principal Bayshore Elementary School 2056 Stanford Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 258-6479 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. ERIC HENDERSON, President Mat-Su Principals Association; Principal, Wasilla Middle School P.O. Box 2501 Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 376-7311 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. RICH TOYMIL, Principal Paul Banks Elementary School; Kenai Peninsula Administrative Association; Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals P.O. Box 2168 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-1478 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. CHERYL TURNER PO Box 1567 Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-7901 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 129. SOPHIA MASEWICZ, President Anchorage Principals Association; Principal, Romig Middle School 2001 Shore Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99515 Telephone: (907) 344-3269 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. MARY JOHNSTONE, President Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals; Principal, Susitna Elementary School 3210 Seawind Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99516 Telephone: (907) 344-3364 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. TODD SYVERSON, Principal Soldotna Middle School 254 Katmai Avenue Soldotna, Alaska 99669 Telephone: (907) 262-4344 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. DON GLAZE, Assistant Principal Nikiski Middle/High School PO Box 7354 Nikiski, Alaska 99635 Telephone: (907) 776-3456 POSITION STATEMENT: Faxed testimony in opposition to HB 129. LEE YOUNG, Assistant Principal Soldotna Middle School P.O. Box 3494 Soldotna, Alaska 99669 Telephone: (907) 262-4344 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. DON ETHERIDGE District Council of Laborers 710 West Ninth Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-3707 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on collective bargaining. DARROLL HARGRAVES, Executive Director Alaska Council of School Administrators 326 Fourth Street, Suite 404 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed concerns with HB 129. JOHN CYR, President NEA-Alaska 114 Second Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-3090 POSITION STATEMENT: Expressed the need for the Mat-Su School District to work through it's own problems. VIVIAN DAILEY, President Fairbanks Principals Association Principal, North Pole High School 1039 Fifth Avenue Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 Telephone: (907) 479-6388 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 129. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-33, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIRMAN NORMAN ROKEBERG called the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee meeting to order at 3:20 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Rokeberg, Halcro, Sanders and Harris. Representatives Cissna, Brice and Murkowski arrived at 3:24 p.m., 3:25 p.m. and 3:28 p.m. respectively. HB 129 - COLLECTIVE BARGAINING; PRINCIPALS Number 0095 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's first order of business is HB 129, "An Act excluding school principals from collectively bargaining under the Public Employment Relations Act." Number 0107 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN, Alaska State Legislature, came forward as the sponsor of HB 129. He said that he would like to keep his statements short in order to read a statement from the superintendent of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. Representative Ogan summarized that he believed principals should be part of the management team, not part of the labor team. He compared the school board to the legislature, the superintendent to the governor, and the principals to the governor's commissioners; therefore, he believed principals should serve at the pleasure of the superintendent as commissioners serve at the pleasure of the governor. Principals need to be part of the management team which is currently not the case. Representative Ogan noted a case in the Mat-Su Valley in which a superintendent's performance evaluation of a principal lead to a grievance, and binding arbitration. Regardless of the outcome, Representative Ogan found it troubling that a situation could exist such that a principal is not subordinate to a superintendent and the school board. He believed HB 129 puts the public back in public education by ensuring that the policy of the school board is carried out by superintendents and that principals are subordinate to superintendents and the school board. Number 0309 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN read a March 24, 1999, letter into the record from Dr. Robert A. Lehman, Superintendent, Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. Dr. Lehman's letter reads: Thank you for this opportunity to testify on House Bill 129. I am sorry that due to prior commitment, I am unable to deliver my comments in person. I appreciate Representative Ogan reading this into the record on my behalf. I would like to recognize Scott Ogan for the foresight and awareness that led to his introduction of this bill, which would eliminate the unionization of school principals. To be candid, when I first reviewed this legislation I had mixed feelings about it. This bill proposes a change in the way that we do business as educators. As both an experienced superintendent and trainer of school administrators, I felt an obligation to consider how this legislation would affect the children of Alaska. Several hours of contemplating this and discussing it with colleagues failed to generate one single reason that the unionization of principals in any way enhances student achievement. In order to validate my findings, I surveyed professional research on principal unionization. I found that the elimination of principal unions and tenure is a national issue. Within the past few years several states, including Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Oregon have eliminated the unionization of school leaders. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are moving in this direction. Is it coincidental that these are some of the same states that have made the most progress in moving toward standards based instruction and accountability? According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, only in 16 states, Alaska included, do principals receive tenure or equivalent rights to a continuing contract. Why is the concept of collective bargaining for principals on the endangered species list? There are several reasons to eliminate unionization at this level. The first has to do with the core of the principal's job. Let's make no bones about the fact that schools fail primarily because of poor teaching. Textbooks may be outdated or in short supply, teachers may be underpaid, classes may be too large and parents may even be neglectful, but new books, affluent teachers, smaller classes and attentive parents alone do not insure student learning. We seem to have lost sight of the main reason for principals. They exist not to maintain the status quo, but rather to lead the development of an effective learning relationship between teachers and students. Principals must be empowered to produce results in this realm and then be held accountable for those results. Another reason that principals should be released from the constraints of unions has to do with the amount of authority delegated to them. They should have a great deal of authority. They need the freedom to organize their schools in a way that makes the best use of available resources for students. It is up to us as superintendents to foster the growth of principals and to determine how much power to delegate to each at any given time. Principals will end up with real authority and respect from the staff and community if they earn it through their actions. They cannot command it based on a union agreement, which by its nature has a ceiling defined by the limitations of the least qualified members. Rather than bargain collectively, they should actively be set free to compete to the ultimate benefit of excellence in schooling. Additionally, most districts employ a management team operation. This provides a structure for administrators to participate in management planning under the leadership of the superintendent. The elimination of unions will allow principals to be included in the team and to help shape the formulation of policy. Educational policy has to do with the specific things that make quality education happen. School boards set policy in terms of goals and purposes. They approve specific policies drawn by the administrative team. In this process, the first hand experience and perspective of principals is essential to the making of sound policies. Good policy is designed from diverse viewpoints, independent thinking, and objectivity. It also considers the minority viewpoint. Unions foster single points of view. The most compelling reason that principals should stay out of unions is the fact that principals are management. Success should be measured based on how well the job is done in comparison to others in similar roles. We want principals to continue to have a great influence on school systems in Alaska. We need to empower principals who unashamedly do the job better than anybody else and who want a reward system based on performance. These things are the bane and peril of unions. They also have little attraction for principals who are interested only in keeping the lid on and avoiding change. The passage of this bill will be a landmark in your efforts to stop the decline of our system and enable us to improve the quality of instruction. As Sitting Bull said, "It is time to put our minds together and see what we can do for our children." The children of Alaska deserve no less. Number 0665 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked to briefly touch on Title 29, United States Code, Section 152, definitions. He noted, "This is the labor management relations -- the national labor relations. It defines a supervisor - means any individual having authority in the interest of employer to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, and a number of other things - and also talks about professional employees: any employee engaged in work predominately intellectual, varied in character as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical, physical work." Representative Ogan said these descriptions fit managers. Principals are managers, and, with all due respect to labor, principals should not be included in the collective bargaining process. Number 0734 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS requested that Representative Ogan provide the committee with some history regarding this concept and how this issue was brought to his attention. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said that a number of incidents have occurred over the last couple of years in his district. One particular principal was violating school district policy and was asked to stop an activity which the principal refused to stop. Representative Ogan informed the committee that he was denied access to his son's school because it was campaign season, although he had been invited by a teacher to speak to his son's class on a non-campaign-related issue. Representative Ogan commented that there was a lot of politics and ignoring of school district policy. He noted that one principal told him to go through the proper channels of complaining to the school board and the superintendent. Representative Ogan said he complained to the borough, the borough manager, the mayor, school board members, and the superintendent. From those complaints, Representative Ogan received a letter from a school board member on her attorney letterhead, although the letter was signed as a school board member, threatening him with litigation for making libelous statements. He commented, "She was in somewhat of violating policy when the policy was plain on its face what it was, that they weren't supposed to engage in certain activity." This made him realize there was a real lack of control. School boards should set the policy and the board's hired representative should translate that policy into the district. Furthermore, the principals need to be subordinate to the school board, and in this case they were not. Number 0888 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS asked if, in this case, a principal gave a teacher direction not to allow Representative Ogan entrance into a classroom. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said that he did not know exactly what had happened. He clarified that he was met at the door by a teacher, the same teacher who had invited him to speak, and told he could not enter the classroom. Representative Ogan clarified that is not the reason he introduced the legislation. Through a series of situations Representative Ogan came to realize that the principals are in control of their district, not the school board or the superintendent. As a public policy, Representative Ogan felt it to be in the best interest of the children and education for the policy setters, the school board, to have the ability to control the actions of its employees. Recognizing the problem in that area, led to the introduction of HB 129. REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA indicated her agreement that experiences such as Representative Ogan's are not the way it needs to be. She noted the tendency of people to interpret things differently in various situations and asked how this bill would make the situation Representative Ogan had different. Number 1003 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stressed that HB 129 was not necessarily introduced to make his situation different. He reiterated that HB 129 was introduced in order to place the public back in public education. The public should establish the policy for teaching methods, the curriculum, and the management of the school district. He also reiterated that it is not in the best interest of the children to have principals "thumbing their nose at school district policy" and filing grievances for disliked performance evaluations. Representative Ogan stated that it would be more beneficial for parents to set policy through their elected representatives rather than unionized principals. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted a letter of support in the bill packet from the Association of Alaska School Boards. He asked if this type of legislation has been introduced in the past and if so, did the association support it? REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that he was not aware of any such legislation introduced prior to this. Number 1116 REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA related a discussion she had that day with a principal for whom she has much respect. This principal felt very strongly that putting a union hat on principals undermined their ability to serve the children which is the first and foremost concern. This principal commented that he saw the caliber of the principals and teachers in Alaska slowly declining due to decreasing wages. Alaska used to have some of the highest wages in the country. She indicated that more qualified people can teach children better. She asked Representative Ogan to comment. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said that collective bargaining does not necessarily guarantee good caliber personnel. He questioned how standards could be raised or an outstanding principal rewarded, if it is not possible to do a performance evaluation without an arbitrated grievance. He indicated that such programs as bonus programs could not be done under collective bargaining. Representative Ogan mentioned that one principal had commented in the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee that salaries tend to go up when collective bargaining is eliminated. He noted maybe it will give school boards the ability to attract quality people and eliminate those that are not. Number 1273 REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI said, with regard to Representative Ogan's comment that collective bargaining is broken and needs to be fixed, that several principals in her district would disagree. She informed the committee of the concern that has been expressed to her about individual bargaining situations with future superintendents; where would principals be left without collective bargaining? REPRESENTATIVE OGAN reiterated that it leaves the responsibility to the elected public-policy setters where it should be. If the school district hires a superintendent with a prejudice, that superintendent should be disciplined and fired if the situation does not improve. He indicated the same actions should be allowed if there are problems with a principal. Principals should serve at the will of the school board; the school board should be able to terminate or discipline principals without worrying about grievances and arbitration. Representative Ogan said he is simply asking that the hands of school boards and superintendents be untied. He commented, "Right now, one thing the NEA [National Education Association] said on the record .... 'This is a major shift of power from the collective bargaining agreement and power abhors a vacuum; it's going to be consumed by someone. That someone is likely to be the superintendent and board of education.'" Representative Ogan emphasized that is exactly his point. The power should be with the people's elected representatives, the board of education, and the responsibility should ultimately stop there, not with the principals. [Representative Ogan's statement came from a handout provided to the committee by the sponsor. The handout excerpts testimony from Mr. Marshall of NEA-Alaska to the House Health, Education & Social Services Standing Committee.] Number 1417 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO referred to a 1996 law that made collective bargaining agreements a very public process. Therefore, since the school board and the superintendent have the ability to collectively bargain with the principals, this process is open to the public. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN agreed that there is a more open process, but once the collective bargaining agreement is made the public is not involved in the process nor are the superintendents and the school board. Representative Ogan reiterated the previously mentioned case in the Mat-Su Valley in which the principal did not like his evaluation and requested binding arbitration. Representative Ogan stated, "You can't manage people when you're doing that. ... These people are management, they're not worker bees, these are the upper (indisc.) management ...." REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked how principals would be protected from arbitrary and pernicious acts by a superintendent, if principals are taken out of the definition of public employees. Representative Brice posed a scenario in which a school principal allowed the writing of letters to the legislature, governor, or government in general as part of a social studies class. The legislator receiving the letters became upset with the contents of the letters and demanded that the principal be fired. That is a real case scenario and the principal was protected from an arbitrary act on behalf of the superintendent due to the principals' right to bargain and coverage under collective bargaining. Representative Brice asked, "How do you deal with those situations?" Number 1550 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that is the risk managers take when deciding to become management. He indicated that perhaps, he has more faith in the public process and that the school board would oversee the superintendent to make sure such arbitrary events do not occur. Representative Ogan believed the best government to be local government, when people have access to it. He hoped the system would work in those cases. He mentioned it would certainly violate ethics codes. Furthermore, Representative Ogan believed the school board provided a safety net. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG invited the sponsor to join the committee at the table, noting the committee would proceed to teleconference testimony. The chairman asked witnesses to limit testimony to three minutes and questions. Number 1619 GREG DANIELS, Executive Director, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals (AAESP), testified via teleconference from Kenai in opposition to HB 129. He read a joint resolution by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals and Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals which follows: The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals and the [Alaska] Association of Elementary School Principals: Whereas HB 129 adds 'principals' into the Alaska Statute 23.40.250[(6)] along with Superintendents which makes collective bargaining unavailable to both groups of administrators, and Whereas Alaska Statute 23.40.070[(1)], is the declaration of policy recognizing the rights of public employees to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining, and Whereas Alaska Statute 23.40.070[(2)] requires public employees to negotiate with and enter into written agreements with employee organizations on matters of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, and Whereas under HB 129 principals would lose their voice in determining their conditions of work, paving the way for arbitrary reassignment, removal from their positions without just cause, and would have no formal means of appeal or grievances and termination, nor representation, and Whereas HB 129 will further restrict the ability of school districts to recruit and retain qualified school principals in a market which already predicts severe shortages of principals in Alaska and the United States, and Whereas the stability of schools and school districts throughout Alaska often calls on the longevity and commitment of dedicated principals when there is high turnover of superintendents in Alaska, now Therefore be it resolved that the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals and the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals oppose HB 129 and would ask that HB 129 be defeated. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted the presence of an e-mail message with other comments from Mr. Daniel in the committee packet. Number 1768 ANDRE' LAYRAL, President, Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP); Principal, North Pole Middle School; Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), testified next via teleconference from Fairbanks in opposition to HB 129. He noted that he represents the executive board of the AASSP. He informed the committee that he has been a principal in Fairbanks for the past 7 years and that he has been an educator in Alaska for 25 years of which 16 years were as an administrator. Mr Layral, using his written materials as the basis for his remarks, stated: I've spoken to many principals in the last ten days and none support this bill. Many are offended by the generalization that principals as professionals are based on the sponsor's perception and personal experience that is the catalyst for this bill. Principals are not political appointees like commissioners. They are the front line leaders in Alaska's schools. They bridge the school districts and their school communities, and they are charged with the accountability to ensure that students achieve content standards, teachers meet standards, schools meet standards, and the parents and community work together. Principals have a lot of autonomy. The school boards are the policy setters, and in the absence of policies, principals are the policy makers for their individual buildings. I believe there is a public process for the public to be involved in policy setting. I'd also like to point out that school boards approve the evaluation procedures for principals. HB 129 will deter teachers from going into administration at a time when they will be called on to lead schools. Becoming a principal is an awesome responsibility. Principals are professionals, and as such, deserve the same rights as other public employees to organize for a voice in determining their working conditions. Certainly they should have protections equal to teachers and superintendents. Collective bargaining works to ensure this fair treatment. The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals' executive board urges you to defeat this bill in committee and allow principals to focus on more important educational matters related to Chapter 31 and SB 36. This bill is counter to the professional relationships districts must have in today's schools. There is nothing landmark about this bill, and I thank you for your time. Number 1864 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if Mr. Layral believed principals should have the right to strike and binding arbitration. MR. LAYRAL replied in their district in the negotiated agreement principals currently cannot strike. He indicated that is addressed through the collective bargaining process. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked about binding arbitration. MR. LAYRAL answered, "I believe on those matters where working together you can't find a reasonable solution, if that's called for in the negotiated contract, it is appropriate." He did not believe that has been an issue in his district and he felt good about the principals' and school board's working relationship within his district. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if there were concerns regarding the loss of employment benefits, or is the concern regarding the lack of grievance or job position protection through the collective bargaining process. Number 1928 MR. LAYRAL clarified that he believed principals should, as professionals, be afforded the same rights as other public employees which is what is specified in state law. Long before principals were included under the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), principals had similar rights. Mr. Layral indicated that principals should have the same rights to collective bargaining as fire chiefs, ferry captains, and police chiefs. He pointed out that these officials are not political appointees and that they are hired, fired, and have the same fair treatment as principals. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if principals could be fired at the will of the school board or superintendent, or are principals subject to the grievance procedures for which principals collectively bargain. MR. LAYRAL indicated that if principals, based on their performance, do not perform at the level expected, or if they do not meet state standards they can be fired. He noted that evaluation procedures fora district are approved by the school board. If the principals violate aspects of their negotiated contract, they would be subject to discipline under the conditions in that contract. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if there could be contract conditions which were not collectively bargained. MR. LAYRAL noted that school boards establish policies. If it is not contained in school board policy or the negotiated agreement, he supposed that could be the case. Mr. Layral commented that those kinds of issues are best settled by sitting down and conferring; he believed that everyone should work together when these things are not outlined. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked, for the committee's understanding, if principals' have a separate bargaining unit, or does it vary from district to district or between the elementary and secondary levels. Number 2020 MR. LAYRAL answered that statewide most of the larger districts have a collective bargaining agreement. There are a number of single site schools where the principal's negotiation is simply meeting with the superintendent and the school board to establish the conditions of the principal's employment. Mr. Layral suspected the silence from those areas means that process works in those areas. He noted that those areas are not in support of the bill. For the larger districts which negotiate with 45 to 50 different principals, there is the possibility of being arbitrary. He further stated, "I believe that we have standards for principals. They were passed as part of HB 165 and Chapter 31 now. Those standards are very clear. That's what we're evaluated on and I think that if you're meeting those standards you shouldn't be fired without just cause." Number 2070 GLEN SYZMONIAK, Kenai Peninsula Administrative Association, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals, testified via teleconference from Homer in opposition of HB 129. He read the following testimony: I am opposed to HB 129 and request that this bill not proceed out of the Labor and Commerce Committee. The state is a public employer and principals are currently public employees with all the rights and responsibilities of public employees under PERA. The key word in this act is "relation." Currently, and in the past, principals have remained steadfast in maintaining a positive partnership type of relationship with the legislature, the DOE, school boards, parents, voters and the community. Eliminating the opportunity to collectively bargain removes the process and structure that allows principals and school districts to define that relationship. Doing this unilaterally without the principals' support goes beyond severing the current, desirable ties and it establishes and institutes an adversarial relationship based on threats and arbitrary decisions. Number 2127 Representative Ogan gives grievance procedures and arbitration, but what that grievance and arbitration procedure does is assure fairness and a procedure for, either getting a principal out of a position or keeping a body from doing an arbitrary act like removing a principal from his job without due cause. So, those things do need to be in the contract and they're actually part a labor right that we do (indisc.) not just principals, but any other employee. When I saw this bill, something didn't seem right, and then sitting here listening, I think that was confirmed. It looks like Senator [Representative] Ogan had a pretty disdainful incident whereby one act by one principal maybe wasn't correct, and it sounds like it went through the procedures, but I would really hate to see anybody use this as their position of authority for any vindictive act, and really what that does is draw in all the principals in the state and it affects the relationship that we have with our employers which we really appreciate and like right now. Thank you. Number 2183 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that the legislature does not allow vengeful acts. He said that this is a topic that deserves discussion. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN felt he was clear to point out in his testimony this is not a vindictive act. Furthermore, he resented it being characterized as such. He stated it is simply a matter of whether or not it is good public policy to have our principals as managers, as part of the management team or part of the collective bargaining team. Number 2222 FRED GIDDINGS, Principal, Bayshore Elementary School, testified next via teleconference from Anchorage. Mr. Giddings was thankful to hear thoughtful questions and discussion from the committee members. He informed the committee that he had testified two weeks prior in the Health, Education, and Social Services Committee and was bewildered at the speed with which HB 129 moved out of the committee without much discussion. He emphasized the importance of understanding that this bill resulted from an unfortunate incident in the Mat-Su Valley. The solution to the problem, if there is one in the Mat-Su Valley, is being broadcast to principals everywhere in Alaska. Mr. Giddings wanted to make it very clear that the problems besetting the Mat-Su Valley, if there are any, are not problems that Anchorage is experiencing. With respect to Representative Ogan's comment that the principals are in control, not the board or the superintendent, he stated, "At least as far as the Anchorage School District is concerned, we enjoy our relationship with the superintendent, we have a board that is quite literally in control and a superintendent that manages the business of principal quite effectively and we don't need this solution imposed on us ... there's nothing broken here; there's really nothing that needs fixing here." Much of the content in HB 129 bothered Mr. Giddings. He stated in his 21 years in the Anchorage School District and 40 years in Alaska, he found that principals are the constant in the administrative chain of command, but superintendents, each with their own philosophies and priorities, come and go. Principals need to have a seat at the table with the superintendent and the school board. Furthermore, principals need to be able to discuss concerns and divergent views with the superintendent without fear of reprisal. He felt HB 129 imposed a nuclear solution to a problem that is localized in the Mat-Su Valley. Number 2355 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked why the State School Board Association supports HB 129 if the solution is nuclear. MR. GIDDINGS said he could not answer that question and suggested the question would be better directed to the State School Board Association. He noted that he could only speak on behalf of the Anchorage principals, the Elementary Principals Association and himself. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked whether the Anchorage School District is able to insert additional conditions on a contract the district has bargained with an individual principal or do they have to bargain as a unit. MR. GIDDINGS understood the process to entail developing an agreement with the director of labor relations, who is guided by the school board and the superintendent. The agreement is generalized to all principals in the Anchorage area. There are not separate conditions of employment for different principals. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG wondered if "middle, senior and elementary principals" in Anchorage are handled as a unit. MR. GIDDINGS said they are handled as a unit for the purposes of collective bargaining. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if a distinction in pay scales existed between the type of schools that principals head. Number 2416 MR GIDDINGS indicated principals are placed on a pay scale based on years of experience which is accrued from elementary through high school. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if it was conceivable to have a "relatively small elementary population and be paid more than a ... principal at Service High School. Is that correct?" MR. GIDDINGS stated, "Well, at the elementary level you could probably find principals who are paid higher at smaller schools." He noted that school size is not the only consideration in terms of what is required to manage a school. The pay scales show that high school principals are paid more than elementary school principals. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG inquired if Mr. Giddings testimony was "that they didn't make a distinction, but, yet, a senior high school principal ... could be paid more or would be?" MR. GIDDINGS explained that high school principals get paid more than elementary school principals because they have a longer school year. Both are paid roughly the same on a per diem basis, but high school principals work more days. ERIC HENDERSON, President, Mat-Su Principals Association; Principal, Wasilla Middle School, testified via teleconference from the Mat-Su Valley. TAPE 99-33, SIDE B MR. HENDERSON relayed an incident in which a superintendent informed him he was going to fire a major high school principal because the principal had allegedly lied. Mr. Henderson further stated: This was, at first, a surprise to me. I was a representative of the Principal's Association and we went to bat for this principal. After, about, 100,000 dollars later, and with a lot of hearings, private investigations, a very active association for this principal. It was found the district was totally wrong and he was hired back. That individual that Representative Ogan speaks of, of the evaluation process and the arbitrations, that individual was one of our point persons in this battle. That person had 35 years of educational experience; probably about 25 years as a principal. He was honored nationally in a variety of different areas for his excellence as a principal. He received the poorest evaluation because of his association activities that he ever received. We went to arbitrations with that. An arbitrator was found that the district was totally at fault and were prejudiced in his evaluations. All this has taken place over the last two years. Because in the collective bargaining agreement, it's given the principals a protection to question those types of activities that are misled by a certain superintendent who, by the way, has resigned recently. I really take issue with some of the comparisons that have been made. Principals need to have the protection that is only allowed at a collective bargaining agreement to do the job to advocate for kids to raise standards. Number 0090 Representative Ogan talked about going to a high school that he was turned down by the principal at the door. You know, principals have an obligation to the children. That obligation is outlined in school board policy. The principal was, in that case, was supporting school board policy. The school board still has control. The superintendent still has control. Principals support policy. If they aren't, they can be removed and principals have been removed .... Principals are on a one-year contract. If they aren't to the liking of what the school district wants, they can be removed and put back into the classroom every year and that's stated pretty much in contract. They can't do it for capricious reasons, but they can be removed and put back into the classroom. Principals are teachers first, principals second. Number 2454 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if the Mat-Su Principal's Association was the actual bargaining unit. MR. HENDERSON clarified that the Mat-Su Principal's Association is a bargaining unit for the principals and is not associated with any teacher's association or NEA. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if Mr. Henderson could site the school board policy the principal was enforcing when he kept Representative Ogan from entering the school. MR. HENDERSON noted that he did not have the policy in front of him, but he believed the policy being enforced was "political activity cannot be carried on in the school." He was not certain of the particulars in Representative Ogan's case, but principals have the right to prevent campaigning from occurring in schools during an election. He noted there is a procedure to reprimand a principal if a policy has been violated. Number 0182 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked, "If you don't know particulars, then how do you know that the principal was supporting school board policy, as you say?" MR. HENDERSON indicated he was basing his response on what Representative Ogan said. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO remembered, last fall, hearing Mr. Henderson on the radio supporting Representative Ogan's opponent. He stated Mr. Henderson identified himself as a principal and asked if there was anything in the collective bargaining agreement prohibiting Mr. Henderson from campaigning under the auspices of representing the school. MR. HENDERSON replied he was not campaigning under the auspices of representing the school. He said there was nothing in the collective bargaining agreement referring to campaigning. He explained there are procedures the district can take if the district felt he had been in violation of professional practices. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked if any action had been taken because Mr. Henderson had been "so out front in this campaign." MR. HENDERSON replied no. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated for the record there was a school district policy that prohibits school district employees from engaging in partisan activities. He indicated Mr. Henderson had clearly identified himself as a school district employee; thereby he represented the district. There is also a state law which says a person who engages in partisan activities as a part of their job may not receive public funds. Number 0284 RICH TOYMIL, Principal, Paul Banks Elementary School, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals, Kenai Peninsula Administrators Association, testified next via teleconference from Homer. He informed the committee that he had been principal at the Paul Banks Elementary School for the last year and a half. Prior to that, Mr. Toymil worked as an administrator in the Bering Straits School District before which he taught in Oregon for 10 years. He read the following testimony: I want to first and foremost ... I am an educator that has focused on the need of children and the success of children and their parents in the community. I want to speak for all the administrators out there, I know there are a lot that I have met over my years in Alaska as a teacher and an administrator who are focused on children. I would like to say that the rhetoric surrounding this potentially far-reaching bill assumes that principals have too much power, that we're in too much control. In fact, we are managers who are part of a team. We are answerable to the public and subordinate, so to speak, via the school board and to the district via the superintendent and the director that we work for. We are part of the management team. We have clearly outlined expectations and responsibilities and due process regarding this (indsic.) procedures if we are out of line, so to speak. Number 0332 Regardless of the bargaining situation that in the district we have, there are management processes to deal with inappropriate actions by individuals in each district. Individual problems can be solved, first and foremost, by crafting hiring processes that screen candidates rigorously and evaluation processes that have clear expectations that are formulated through a collaborative effort of school board members, the district's management team and the principals and directors. Legal guidance is always available as necessary in every district. As principals and state employees, I believe we have the right to help formulate our employment situation via collective bargaining unit without the widespread annihilation of our employability rights as represented by this bill and I urge its defeat. Number 0381 CHERYL TURNER, Parent, informed the committee that she has worn several hats in the past. She noted that she has been active in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and was the President for four years at Pioneer Peak Elementary. After that time, she became the PTA Council President for the Mat-Su School District. Later she ran and was elected to the Mat-Su School Board. Ms. Turner emphasized that she is not speaking on behalf of the Mat-Su School Board. She read the following testimony: I am a school board member, and a parent. Today I speak to you as a parent who has the additional perspective of serving on an elected body created to carry out school policy on behalf of the public. My focus, and I am sure your focus, as you consider this legislation is to do what is best for children and their education. In any organization, when management is overturned or is not properly followed there is a lack of direction and policy begins to flow in the wrong direction. In our education system when teachers, are joined by administrators in collective application of policy, the chain of management is severed between the public and our schools. Instead of public education we have union education dictated to the public, the Boards, and the Superintendent. Instead of carrying out the directives of the public via the District, we have as the NEA desires [per written testimony], a policy set by a collective, political group. When a Superintendent gives a negative evaluation of a Principal, as his or her manager, they need to have results in correcting the situation. In Mat-Su one of our Principals received such an evaluation only to file a grievance and have the management finding overturned. If Principals are administrators, if they are part of the management team, if they are an extension of the Superintendent, Board and public, then they are not to be collectively organized. If we want to recognize Principal unions then we must also be prepared for them to go on strike, sick outs, push for binding arbitration, and support not the District, but the NEA when there are differences of opinion. I ask you as legislators, as supporters of the proper role and balance between management and labor, to put the public back in education. Keep the balance in education. Help our constituents restore public education to a better place. People are wondering what is wrong with public education? Why are so many people putting their children in other alternative programs? What will it take to restore quality in our schools? I submit to you that as the public has become disenfranchised from public education their support for it has waned. As leaders you know the importance of public involvement. Unless we re-balance our management team as HB 129 does, and put the public back into a meaningful role as originators, not followers of education policy we will continue to see the erosion of public education in Alaska. HB 129 will not make those who feel they are in charge of education happy. It will not be popular with those who seek collective protection as managers. But it will restore the balance we need to make management work for our constituents. Number 0566 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked how long Ms. Turner has been a member of the Mat-Su School Board. MS. TURNER replied she was elected in October of 1998. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if she has been there long enough to know whether she feels the principals are implementing school board policy in her area. MS. TURNER, speaking strictly as an individual school board member, said she has been "put through the ringer by the Mat-Su Principals Union." She stated she was threatened with a lawsuit which she discovered while reading the local paper. The results of the investigation were null and void, and the investigation was thrown out with an expense to the district. She was uncertain if there was an expense to MSPA [Mat-Su Principals Association]. Ms. Turner withdrew her children from the public school system and placed them in a Christian school. She was told she was a board member and not a parent at the school. The superintendent attempted to intervene by setting up a meeting with the principal, herself, and her husband, but the superintendent was told to "butt out" or the principal would seek an attorney. Ms. Turner said the superintendent advised her to remove her children from school. Number 0636 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if this incident occurred after she was elected to the school board. MS. TURNER said the incident occurred before she was elected, but she withdrew her children from school after she became a board member. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to Mr. Henderson's testimony and asked Ms. Turner if a school board policy exists which prohibits principals or employees from participating in partisan activities. Number 0670 MS. TURNER replied yes. There is a policy stating any employee is allowed to campaign on their own time and with their own name, but not with the school district's title. She indicated Mr. Henderson used his principal title and also recognized the building where he is a principal. No repercussions came from this incident because the Mat-Su is in a tough situation. The superintendent had strict orders from the school board on his evaluation from last year to mend the relationship with the principals. This was the number one item the school board requested of the superintendent. Therefore, she felt that was the reason there were no repercussions to Mr. Henderson. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO said he understood "the directive to mend fences and build good will, but when somebody violates policy, whether it's school board or local assembly or legislative ethic policy, you know, you get in trouble." He indicated he did not understand why nothing was done since a policy had been violated in this case. MS. TURNER replied she is only one member of the school board and cannot respond to that. She said she can give her opinion, but feels she may be crossing some lines. Number 0755 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS said it sounds as if this is an isolated situation for the Mat-Su Valley. He wondered if Ms. Turner had heard of a similar situation in other areas. MS. TURNER informed the committee that she spoke with other school board members at the Alaska State School Board Convention, of which the Mat-Su School Board is no longer a member, last fall regarding the activities with the radio ad. She said she did not have a single conversation with anyone who accepted the behavior of the union president. She further commented that she did not believe these types of situations are isolated to the Mat-Su area. She believed there is a nationwide trend of these types of situations which she attributed to the movement to the standard-based assessments. She said "in order to do that, you have to have communication." Such is achieved with HB 129 which supports communication from the administration, the school board, the superintendent and the principals. She informed the committee that currently, there are 16 states in the nation that have unionized principals. In Alaska, 14 out of 53 districts have unionized principals. Number 0869 REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI indicated that she wondered if this is something that needs to be fixed on a statewide basis or is it just a problem in the Mat-Su Valley. With regards to Ms. Turner's comment that educators would be happy with the passage of HB 129, Representative Murkowski expressed concerned that there is already a shortage of educators and an even more severe shortage with respect to administrators. She stressed, "If we just have an incident going on in one part of the state, and, in an attempt to fix that, we throw out what might be working in the other 52 school districts, and lose a lot of good educators in the state, which I'm not convinced that we can afford to do." MS. TURNER pointed out that change such as the Quality Schools Initiative enacted last year, standard-based assessment for the state of Alaska, and new superintendents, is not always well-received. She believes anytime you step into the arena of change, there will be a lot of negative feedback. She expressed surprise at the tone of negativity regarding HB 129 which she felt gets people more involved with administrative processes. People "want to be involved, they want to be able lobby, they want to be able to do things, you know, with the administrators and with the school board, and work together." She further commented, "Now, when they're in disagreement with the direction that we're trying to go in, we get grievanced." Number 1018 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG wondered if Ms. Turner meant that principals would file a grievance if a new policy was implemented. He wanted to know what would "trip the grievance against the board?" MS. TURNER said she is not sure what trips grievances. CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked her to provide an example. MS. TURNER described an incident in which a principal sent a newsletter to parents with information about the budget process and who should be contacted during the budget process. In the newsletter, the parents were instructed to call the "head shed" which resulted in three phone calls from parents in the community. One parent asked Ms. Turner to give her a definition of the "head shed". Ms. Turner said she does not know what it means, but noted it sounds drug-related. She instructed the parent to address the principal. Ms. Turner requested the superintendent speak with the principal regarding his use of the term "head shed", and asked the superintendent to be low-key. The superintendent spoke with the principal, and they apparently had a good conversation. The principal spoke with the Rights Chair of the union who subsequently relayed to the superintendent that he was uncomfortable with him interfering with school business. Number 1141 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked Ms. Turner if her testimony is "principals are empowered by their collective bargaining agreements to file grievances if they have certain problems with the superintendent or with the board." MS. TURNER agreed, but noted that she was not going on record to say that a grievance was filed. Instead, it was a notification from the Rights Chair to the superintendent that he acted improperly when addressing the principal. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO commented, with respect to Ms. Turner's statement regarding negative feedback, that the committee members simply want to know. Representative Halcro noted that he is a past PTA president and he has never heard of this type of situation between the principals in the Anchorage School District and the school board. Perhaps, the Mat-Su Valley is the exception versus the rule. MS. TURNER said she did not mean to interpret that the negative feedback is coming from the committee, but rather from the testimony. She acknowledged Representative Murkowski's past PTA experiences and commended the people that have a great relationship with their principal because it is vitally important. However Ms. Turner commented, from her experience as the Mat-Su PTA President and sitting as the Board Manager on the State PTA, that there are some situations in Anchorage. Number 1261 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO pointed out that no other school districts had submitted letters of support. He was surprised, especially if these problems exist elsewhere, no one else is "jumping on the band wagon." He asked if AASB is speaking on behalf of the 53 school districts. MS. TURNER reiterated that the Mat-Su Valley is not a member of the of AASB. She said that she would share Representative Halcro's same concern. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN commented, "Maybe they don't want to get sideways with the principals' union." Number 1326 SOPHIA MASEWICZ, President, Anchorage Principals Association, testified from Anchorage in opposition of HB 129. She informed the committee that the Anchorage Principals Association is the largest organization of principals in the state, with 119 association members. There are no principals in this district in support of HB 129. She clarified that HB 129 was not supported because it would be detrimental to the check and balance system that is critical in a complex organization. She noted the difficulty for the board and the superintendents to negotiate individual salaries and benefits for the 119 association members. She stressed, "Principals are in a unique position of protecting the rights of parents and students. Allowing principals to do the job that they need to do to be effective leaders, and to serve kids in the state. I have sat in many arbitrations with a number of union organizations where concessions may have been given if there had not been devoid of principals. And principals cannot be in a position of being just mimicked of an arm of the administration. It is true that we follow policy and we are subordinate, but because we are able to collective bargain, we are free to give reflections and earnest opinions about how policy and other matters of negotiation among various unions will effect kids in our district. So, I urge you, please, do not support this bill because it is very detrimental to kids." Number 1474 MARY JOHNSTONE, President, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals; Principal, Susitna Elementary School, read the following testimony: I was born in Alaska and I've been in education here in Anchorage as a teacher and administrator for nearly 25 years. I appreciate the opportunity to speak against this bill that I believe could have a real negative impact on Alaska's students. The Executive Board of the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals strongly opposes it; as it has been stated. While we know there are individuals, and we've heard from some today, or groups who support this bill denying school principals the right to collective bargaining, I suggest that diminishing the role, influence and morale of the principalship is not in the best interests of the education of our children, and should not be in the best interests of anyone. Principals are rising to the challenge of bringing our students into the twenty-first century - with new standards, assessments and graduation requirements. We, as principals, are on the front line in addressing issues of teacher training in effective practices, in school change, diversity, school safety, parent involvement, and the development of partnerships in the community. I invite anyone listening to spend a day in my school to see first-hand the job of the principal. With over half of our current principals likely to be gone by 2002, it is incumbent on us that we be able to recruit and retain the best and brightest school leaders. HB 129, in my opinion, would seriously undermine the ability of districts to staff our schools and accomplish our rigorous goals for public education. HB 129 increases the power of top-down leadership, running counter to current research, practices, and common sense regarding the most effective way to run schools - where involvement of stakeholders, shared decision-making, and strong accountability are paramount. School quality is directly related to ongoing district and site-based school improvement efforts, focusing on world class content and performance standards, on high quality professional staff delivering the best instructional practices, on quality school organization, and on parent and community involvement. We should be looking for ways to strengthen the role of school principals, while at the same time providing principals and schools the resources we need to accomplish the goals the public has set for us. Our political leaders should not create instability and uncertainty for principals, and with it some of our motivation for implementing the continuous improvement of education for the children of Alaska. Number 1633 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if 14 out of 53 districts have unionized principals. MS. JOHNSTONE said she did not know. Number 1656 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG called an at-ease at 4:44 p.m. The committee came back to order in less than a minute. He announced that HB 129 would be set aside for the moment in order to bring up HB 158. HB 158 - NOTICE OF INS. CANCELLATION TO ELDERLY Number 1676 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's next order of business is HB 158, "An Act relating to the annual report of the director of the division of insurance and to notice of cancellation of personal insurance." The chairman stated the legislation would be set aside to be addressed at the committee's next meeting [April 9, 1999]. HB 129 - COLLECTIVE BARGAINING; PRINCIPALS Number 1696 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee would return to the public testimony on HB 129. Chairman Rokeberg passed the gavel to Vice-Chairman Halcro. TODD SYVERSON, Principal, Soldotna Middle School, testified next via teleconference from Kenai in opposition of HB 129. He read the following testimony: I would like to testify in opposition to HB 129 and I am requesting that HB 129 does not make it out of committee. Nine years ago I was a principal in the State of North Dakota. I left North Dakota to move to Alaska because of low salaries and poor benefit packages in North Dakota. I was very fortunate to be named a 1997 National Milken Educator Award winner for the State of Alaska and I feel that my move to Alaska was good for both my family and for my educational career. In Alaska, I have enjoyed the privilege and the right to belong to a union who has collectively bargained in good faith with our school district. The Kenai is currently one of the lowest paid school districts in the state of Alaska and we are currently having problems recruiting principals because of those low salaries. The loss of the right to bargain would put the Kenai even further behind in the recruitment of master principals who will lead our schools and will focus on providing the very best education for our students. Number 1801 Principals are much like coaches. The better the coach the better the team. The better the principal the better the school. Principals provide the leadership and guidance needed to set high standards in the delivery of curriculum, in the improvement of instruction and are consistently assessing our schools to find new ways to improve instruction which lead our schools in better meeting the educational needs of our students. We need the best principals for our schools in Alaska. Please allow us to continue the right to collective bargaining in hopes that we can continue to provide the packages needed to recruit and to keep the best possible principals who will lead our schools in meeting the ever changing needs of our students in the State of Alaska. We truly have a unique challenge in Alaska, please help principals and school boards in meeting that challenge by dropping HB 129. Number 1853 VICE-CHAIRMAN HALCRO asked Don Glaze to testify next via teleconference from Kenai. The Kenai LIO indicated Mr. Glaze had to leave before his name was called. Mr. Glaze's faxed testimony to the committee reads: Thank you for listening to my testimony. My name is Don Glaze. I am the Assistant Principal at Nikiski Middle/High School. I have been an educator in Alaska for 18 years. I am also the President of the Kenai Peninsula Administrators Association, and I would like to speak as one of their representatives on behalf of all the school administrators in our district. We are very much against HB 129. I would like to give two main reasons for opposition to this bill: (1) It is a big step backwards in the effort for the KPBSD [Kenai Peninsula Borough School District] and for Alaska to draw quality people to the field of education. We can set all the standards that we want; we can come up with higher expectations for students; we can create a qualifying exam; but if we don't have good teachers and good leaders in our schools, then neither Alaska school goals nor national school goals are going to be met. A specific statistic was given in our local paper earlier this week by our district's personnel director. In the past few years the number of teachers applying for each job in our district has gone down from 125 to 50 for this year. For a principalship position the number of applicants is much lower. In fact the principal job at Skyview High has reopened twice because there aren't enough qualified applicants. The position is currently unassigned for next school year. With HB 129 what principal would want to come to Alaska to take a job without the ability to have a say in salary and benefits. (2) With those who are currently in principal positions, morale will a [sic] be dramatically affected because principals will be lowered in bargaining ability below anyone else in the system. The principal is not just a manager, but also the instructional leader in a school. If leaders experience a low morale swing, the entire educational process may be negatively affected through the trickle down effect ... [sic] right down to our students. We building administrators have a right to collective bargaining, and we need to keep that right. My questions are: What is the real purpose of HB 129, and what will the effects be? My statement is: Please do not allow HB 129 to move any further through our legislative system. Thank you for your time. Number 1877 LEE YOUNG, Assistant Principal, Soldotna Middle School, testified next via teleconference from Kenai in opposition to HB 129. He informed the committee that he moved from Washington State last summer because of legislation there. He noted that he wanted to further his professional career and feels he is an excellent administrator as evidenced by his receipt of the 1995 Washington State Educator of the Year award. Mr. Young said that he enjoyed being in Washington, but because of "unfortunate legislation" he moved to Alaska where the benefit package was more attractive. He felt that the passage of HB 129 would effect the kind of people attracted to Alaska. Alaska's students deserve the best. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS inquired as to the legislation that drove Mr. Young out of the State of Washington. MR. YOUNG clarified that the particular legislation centered around the retirement system which is one area that Alaska is holding onto for the time being. Number 2015 DON ETHERIDGE, District Council of Laborers, came forward to testify on HB 129. He noted that the District Council of Laborers does not represent any principals, but he wanted to speak to the process of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a basic right all people should have; to be able to bargain for working conditions and wages. Based on the testimony today, it seems that there is a problem in one school district where there has been a poor job of collective bargaining and administering contracts. He stated, "We have a grievance procedure and the grievance procedure is set up only for violations of the collective bargaining agreement. And if you start trying to grieve everything else under the sun before arbitrators, they only will look at what's in the bargaining agreement. And that's what it's there for. And if it's not been bargained properly, then that's the fault of the school board that sets those bargaining standards as to what they want to see." In response to an earlier question posed by Representative Brice, Mr. Etheridge feels the only recourse, if no grievance procedure is available, is to go to court which "will cost the same amount of money on either side, if not more, to have lawyers involved with work issues." It seems to him that collective bargaining is being blamed for poor management in the Mat-Su Borough School District. He does not believe the process should be thrown out because one school district cannot handle the system. Number 2187 DARROLL HARGRAVES, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators, came forward to testify on HB 129. He pointed out that the committee had received the resolution from the elementary and the secondary principals stating their position. He noted that the superintendents, part of the Alaska Council of School Administrators, recently met in Juneau and discussed HB 129. "From that discussion, there were numerous comments made by numerous superintendents and, as I recorded it, it was 100 percent opposed to the bill. Now, the group did end up not taking a position on it, ... but the individual comments were very clear in those discussions." He acknowledged that the committee has a letter of support from the Superintendent of the Mat-Su Valley, Dr. Lehman. MR. HARGRAVES expressed mixed feelings. He informed the committee that he has worked as a superintendent since 1974 in Alaska. During that time, he never had any problem and of all the problems in school districts, principals were never the problem. He was concerned that a lot of dirty laundry was thrown out before the public about the Mat-Su community and school district. He regrets this because last week he wrote a substantial property tax check to the Mat-Su community. If the situation is as dysfunctional as it has been described, policies need to be made and enforced. Number 2360 MR. HARGRAVES commented that had Representative Ogan visited a school in his district he would have been welcomed with open arms. "Had any of you come as a campaigner to the school district, you would have been welcomed and put in a civics class, a government class, and let speak to the kids, but the policy would have been that anyone else could have come. So, if the Democrat came, the Republican could come in. And I suppose that would open it up as a public forum, at that point, so some other pedigrees could come in. Some unknowns." Number 2418 MR. HARGRAVES indicated that he may start reviewing the elected officials and the people running the school in the Mat-Su Valley. He noted that he has grandchildren in the Mat-Su Borough School District and that his wife has visited one of the principals several times. His wife has participated in the school and has commented about the fine principal of this school. Mr. Hargraves found it interesting to now hear his name mentioned today. Mr. Hargraves stated, "I don't know what's happened up there, but it almost looks dysfunctional to the point that I'd like to get a hold of those policies and shake them up, and then put somebody in charge of administering them ..." [TESTIMONY INTERRUPTED BY TAPE CHANGE] [Per the tape log notes Mr. Hargraves asked the following: What happens if you take these principals out of PERA?] TAPE 99-34, SIDE A Number 0001 MR. HARGRAVES continued, "...[What happens to] Mt. Edgecumbe? What happens to the principals at the vocational technical schools? These principals are being, they are part of a union, a statewide union, and is it the public employees association? ... I just asked that question because I think that you've got other equivalents in state government that are represented by unions. These principals have this little meet and confer type of thing locally. They have no statewide organization. When you hear these executive directors say, 'I'm executive director of elementary principals.', they're not talking in terms of a union group. They're not the goons that come in and strong-arm situations, in a strike situation or set principals up to strike. For the most part, you could say that they're volunteers working with that statewide organization [indisc.] their retirement, and taking care of that group in that way. So, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I will simply say there is a lack of a problem. The problem that exists is not elegant enough to use the broad brush from Eagle River to Soldotna to North Pole and to Fairbanks. Let those folks in the Mat-Su iron this out. ... The concern about the present action that might awaken-here is a concern I have; these principals have not been the active union, again strong-arm kinds of things. Let me tell you how, not one of the five biggest schools, but, perhaps, the sixth biggest in the state, where I was superintendent. The principals would come in and say, 'We'd like to have this, this and this.', and I'd say, 'Well, you can have this, but you can't have that. Go back and figure out another way to approach this.' Then they would come back and they'd say, 'Oh, here's what we'd like and, by the way, we'd like to invite you and the board to dinner.', and at that dinner, they'd buy dinner, and we'd meet and confer. That settled it. Those principals were not overly paid. They didn't have tremendous rights, and keep one other thing in mind. That comment that this principal grieved, and won the grievance, if that right had not been in the negotiated agreement, it's my belief, that board policies would have put that person through the grievance process where they may have prevailed. The policies of a district usually include a grievance process. That person, then, could have still taken it to the courts, and we know that wrongfully dealt personnel, in any school district or any other agency, can take things to court and win there. So, you don't stop that principal from winning his case by taking the right for collective bargaining away from him." Number 0252 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN welcomed Mr. Hargraves' involvement in helping straighten out some of the problems in the Mat-Su Valley. Representative Ogan concurred that someone needs to be in charge of administrating. He stated an administrator cannot discipline if his hands are tied. He wondered, "If you can't give a performance evaluation, or other disciplinary things, without the kind of incidence we're hearing about, don't you think it's an almost impossible situation for an administrator?" Number 0304 MR. HARGRAVES said, "When I gave a performance evaluation it stuck, but I'm sitting here thinking about the possibility that a principal got an evaluation if the information laundried out before us today is correct. It sounds like that he was, the appearance was that he was being punished, being rated down in the evaluation because he had had an active hand in some other thing. ... Here's the concern I have when I see somebody win a grievance case; did they maybe really have a grievance. I think I was known as a superintendent of somebody that never lost a grievance, but I know full well that if I'd done wrong, ... There could have been things I could have done that would have justified the employee of prevailing." REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if the school board should set that policy and reign in the superintendent if he is being arbitrary, capricious or spiteful. MR. HARGRAVES agreed. He believed that every school district "of any sophistication" in the state has those policies in place. If a school district does not have such policies he offered to write those policies. Number 0404 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered about a situation in which a principal is in violation of school district policy, and the superintendent attempts to remedy the situation, but operates under a "no-confidence vote." He stated, "That's the school board's job, not the principal's union." MR. HARGRAVES agreed. He stated, "I think that principals need to think twice when they do that kind of thing. In this instance, they may have felt that they had grounds to do it." He recollected that no-confidence votes have only happened maybe twice, including this one. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS took exception to the statement regarding personal union goons in Alaska which he did not believe to be a true characterization. MR. HARGRAVES clarified the intent was not to apply the term toward anybody he knows working in unions. Number 0550 VICE-CHAIR HALCRO mentioned an e-mail included in the bill packet written by Malcolm Fleming referring to Ed Gilley, a former Adak superintendent. Mr. Fleming's letter brought up an interesting question about "if you give individuals, whether principals or whoever else, to negotiate with the board, they might cut a favorable deal with one and not the other, instead of bargaining collectively as a group." He asked Mr. Hargraves to address that concern which Vice-Chairman Halcro felt was a valid concern. MR. HARGRAVES noted that the superintendent mentioned in the e-mail lost his certification before the Professional Teaching Practices Commission (PTPC). He noted that except for the small group of large school districts up and down the rail belt, negotiations do not occur as one would think; they meet and confer. Mr. Hargraves could not imagine Anchorage wanting to deal with 119 principals individually. That would become unwieldy. Therefore, collective bargaining is a matter of convenience and provides an orderly process. He reiterated that those principals are not affiliated with any statewide group, but this legislation may precipitate those principals becoming a member of a statewide group which would be regrettable. Number 0686 JOHN CYR, President, NEA-Alaska, came forward to testify on HB 129. He informed the committee that NEA-Alaska (NEA-AK) represents approximately 11,000 teachers, classroom aides, custodians and other educational support personnel and most importantly, NEA-AK represents 130,000 children. He pointed out that NEA-AK does not represent any principals. He viewed the role of a principal as an instructional leader, a manager, or "whether they should be what amounts to a political appointee." He noted that he is from the Mat-Su Valley and spent the majority of his educational career there. He felt the Mat-Su School District has been one of the bright spots in education around Alaska, but was not sure that remains true today. The problems are not solely with the principals' association. He commented that the principals' association should be referred to as such because, to his knowledge, they are not affiliated with any organized union. He stressed that NEA-AK or the local Mat-Su affiliate do not represent nor wish to represent the principals there. Number 0785 MR. CYR commented that there have been on-going negotiations in the Mat-Su Valley with the Teachers' Association which have not been fruitful. Furthermore the Classified Association is also at the table, and that is not working out well. The superintendent's contract has not been renewed. Such a situation would be a challenge for even Mr. Hargraves with all of his expertise. There are many things in the Mat-Su Valley that need to be fixed. MR. CYR informed the committee that the substance of an evaluation cannot be grieved, only the process can be grieved. If the process has been mishandled, then it can be grieved. He said, "I think it's interesting to note that the principal in this case won. Clearly, his supervisor didn't follow the process and that's where this whole thing breaks down." He sympathized with Representative Ogan and said, "I taught in Wasilla High. I mean, I think it's no secret that some of the elected representatives in the Mat-Su Valley and myself, personally, and at some level organizationally have had some problems, but those same folks come into my classroom every year and they make presentations. They were invited in." He stressed policy clearly allows for teachers to do that, and it is only fair to open up that kind of forum for students to listen to those points of view. Mr. Cyr said that he was unsure as to what happened in this case. If a principal violates school board policy, it is no different than if a teacher violates school board policy or anyone else. "They should be disciplined. Through the fact that they weren't, either means, they didn't violate the policy or that there is a level of dysfunctionality there that runs through the system that needs to be addressed." MR. CYR commented that he was a little uncomfortable discussing a district and it's problems. He indicated the need to look at what we want our school administrators to be. Is the desire to have the classic iron-handed managers or team leaders? To his knowledge, there is no recent research which advocates running a school with a "top-down model where you lay out those dictates and everybody stands in lines and salutes." Schools are team processes where everyone gets together through the process to make the school a better place. He emphasized that no one needs protection more in that arena than principals who are on the front line getting bombarded from all sides. Therefore, taking away the collective bargaining agreement from principals places them in a terrible no man's land where he did not believe anyone would want to be. A principal's job is difficult enough with the protection they have, and without it, he asked, "Why would you do that?" Mr. Cyr believed that some unintended consequences would occur with HB 129 which would be more far-reaching than what is trying to be fixed. He said, "I think in this instance, Representative Ogan, I probably do agree. There are some problems in the Mat-Su School District, but they need to be solved at home, and they need to be solved by all of us who are concerned, sitting down at the table and trying to work through it. Not at this level." Number 1061 VIVIAN DAILEY, President, Fairbanks Principals Association; Principal, North Pole High School, testified next via teleconference from Fairbanks in opposition to HB 129. She read the following testimony: I appreciate this opportunity to speak to a proposed bill that could have a serious, negative impact on the students of the state of Alaska. Fairbanks Principals Association strongly opposes HB 129 which would deny principals the right to collectively bargain. Collective bargaining in the Fairbanks-Northstar Borough School District is not broken and does not need fixing. Principals do support change and, in fact, are the leaders of change in our schools. We strongly support HB 36 and the Quality Schools Initiative and Alaska state standards. The public is in our public schools through our publicly-elected school board who make policies which principals enforce. Once again, I would encourage you, as members of the committee, to oppose this particular bill of HB 129, and recognize the value that principals have, and the right that they have as public employees to collectively bargain. Number 1159 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN cautioned everyone against getting caught up in an incident or series of incidents in the Mat-Su Borough School District. He said it is easy to do that and get distracted from a decision on policy. Representative Ogan noted that he could site more incidents, but did not because that is not what he wanted to focus on. He referred to the numerous comments that top-down leadership is not a good thing. The people, the voters, are on top and need to be respected. The voters elect the school board and therefore, the voters need to be on top and establish the policy, not the other way around. Representative Ogan stated that HB 129 empowers the voters through their representatives to establish and carry out the policy. He suggested that this is not an isolated problem because other states have done this; the same states who are on the cutting-edge of making major positive changes to education. He sympathized with the principals' desire not to lose this benefit. In conclusion, Representative Ogan stated this is not about labor, it is about management, and whether or not management should collectively bargain. Number 1267 VICE-CHAIR HALCRO closed the public testimony on HB 129. There being no comments from the committee, Vice-Chair Halcro announced that HB 129 would be held per Chairman Rokeberg's request. ADJOURNMENT Number 1283 VICE-CHAIRMAN HALCRO adjourned the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee at 5:16 p.m.