Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/26/1999 01:36 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE April 26, 1999 1:36 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Tim Kelly, Chair Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chair Senator Randy Phillips MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Jerry Ward Senator Lyman Hoffman COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 156 "An Act relating to municipal incorporation, to reclassification of cities, to municipal boundary changes, and to dissolution of municipalities." -MOVED SB 156 OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 125(CRA) "An Act relating to school crisis response planning." -MOVED CSSB 125(CRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 156 - No previous Senate action. SB 125 - See HESS minutes dated 4/19/99. WITNESS REGISTER Kevin Waring, Chairperson Local Boundary Commission 333 W 4th Ave., Ste. 220 Anchorage, AK 99501-2341 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 156 Tim Grussendorf Legislative Aide to Senator Hoffman Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for the sponsor of SB 125 Bruce Johnson, Director Division of Teaching and Learning Support Department of Education 801 W 10th St., Ste. 200 Juneau, AK 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 125 John Angaiak Lower Yukon Kuskokwim School District PO Box 1233 Bethel, AK 99559 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 125 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-8, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN TIM KELLY called the Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee meeting to order at 1:36 p.m. Present were Senators Phillips, Mackie and Kelly. Chairman Kelly announced the first order of business scheduled before the committee to be SB 156, a measure sponsored by the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee at the request of the Local Boundary Commission (LBC). SB 156-MUNICIPAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND BOUNDARIES KEVIN WARING, Chairman of the Local Boundary Commission, made the following comments via teleconference. The LBC and Alaska Municipal League (AML) support SB 156, which amends language put into statute in 1985. SB 156 does not alter LBC's powers, but does make two changes. First, SB 156 makes consistent in Title 29, language pertaining to five types of petitions regarding how the LBC may amend and accept, or reject, each type of petition. After researching the legislative history of those sections, Department of Community and Regional Affairs' (DCRA) staff determined that no purposeful reason existed for the inconsistent language. Uniform language throughout Title 29 will reduce confusion for petitioners. Second, SB 156 will endorse, by statute, the LBC's present practice of attaching conditions when approving certain types of petitions. The LBC believes it is authorized to attach conditions; that viewpoint has been endorsed by the Department of Law. The practice of attaching conditions is often beneficial to petitioners, and it is helpful to the LBC in protecting the state's interest. CHAIRMAN WARING illustrated the need to attach conditions with the following examples. The LBC has approved seven dissolution petitions filed by second class cities since 1994. At the time the dissolution was approved, the cities continued to have assets, liabilities and financial obligations to other parties. The LBC conditionally approved the dissolutions subject to proper disposition of public assets and debt clearance. On occasion, the LBC identified a sales or bed tax as a revenue source to finance the operations of a to-be incorporated city. Approval of petitions for incorporation was conditioned upon local approval of the taxes to ensure that the petitioner would have adequate revenue sources to fund its operations. There being no further testimony, SENATOR MACKIE moved SB 156 from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. SB 125-SCHOOL SAFETY PLAN CHAIRMAN KELLY announced a Senate Community and Regional Affairs proposed committee substitute to SB 125 had been prepared. TIM GRUSSENDORF, staff to Senator Hoffman, sponsor of SB 125, stated SB 125 was introduced at the request of the Lower Yukon Kuskokwim School District to address its concerns about crisis response planning. In February of 1997, gunfire exploded in the hallways of the Bethel Regional High School, ending the lives of Principal Ron Edwards and student Josh Palacios. The actions that took place immediately following the tragedy still haunt Bethel residents with questions about who was in charge and what should have occurred. The crisis was magnified by the fact that one of the victims was the principal, who people were accustomed to looking to for direction. Senator Hoffman worked with the Department of Education and others to ensure that the bill is user friendly and inclusive, and does not place a financial burden on schools, however, it became evident early on that the scope of SB 125 was very broad regarding school safety issues. A committee substitute was prepared to respond to the concerns expressed by the Department of Education and other interested parties. MR. GRUSSENDORF discussed the difference between the original bill and the proposed committee substitute. Language on page 1, lines 7 through 13, of the committee substitute divides the committee membership into two components: those who shall serve and those who may serve. Those who shall serve include the principal, one certified staff member, one classified staff member, and one parent. Those who may serve include school board members, advisory board members, school counselors, law enforcement representatives, and a student in grade 10 or above attending that school. The next change occurs on page 2, lines 7 and 8. The word "faculty" was added because faculty members are also present in the school building. The third change occurs on page 2, line 9. Subsection (5) was removed because the contents of that subsection fall under the requirement of the components of the school specific plan. The fourth, on page 2, lines 17 through 23, requires that the crisis response plan be reviewed annually and updated as appropriate. Specific language requiring the plan to be updated every three years was removed. The last change, on page 2, line 24, removes a specific time requirement for annual training. Opinions on the appropriate level of training for inservice and school crisis response vary. Some suggest initial staff training can be completed in two days, with less time being necessary in subsequent years. Number 185 SENATOR MACKIE asked what position was taken on SB 125 by the Department of Education, the Alaska School Board Association, and school boards and districts throughout the state. MR. GRUSSENDORF informed committee members no one has opposed the bill, and some schools have already complied with the requirements set out in SB 125. SENATOR MACKIE said he is concerned that enactment of SB 125 will place an unfunded mandate on school districts. MR. GRUSSENDORF pointed out the bill has a zero fiscal note. He stated he believes most schools will develop crisis response teams whether legislation passes or not. Number 215 MR. BRUCE JOHNSON, Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning within the Department of Education (DOE), made the following statements. DOE supports SB 125 as it believes that all Alaskan students should be provided with protection that can come from pro-active planning in each school community, therefore a requirement that directs all schools to develop a crisis plan in conjunction with key community leaders is a good idea. DOE worked with Senator Hoffman's staff and believes the proposed committee substitute recognizes the diversity that exists in Alaska. It appropriately provides the latitude to afford each school community the task of identifying appropriate members to serve on the planning team consistent with the services available in that community. DOE also appreciates that the contents sections of the plan are sufficiently broad to allow community and school flexibility while ensuring specific safety for students in that community. Regarding the unfunded mandate concern expressed by Senator Mackie, MR. JOHNSON said DOE believes the process a community will go through to develop a plan will be in the best interest of the children in the State of Alaska. Number 240 SENATOR PHILLIPS questioned, of the 56 school districts around the state, how many have a plan in place. MR. JOHNSON replied 47 school districts are either in the talking or implementation stages of conflict resolution programs. SENATOR MACKIE asked Mr. Johnson, as a former school superintendent in Alaska, whether he believes school districts could create a plan with relative ease, and what effect such a plan will have on the number of inservice training days. MR. JOHNSON said he thinks it will vary from community to community. In Kodiak, the borough mayor took responsibility to ensure that a plan was devised and printed for each individual community on Kodiak Island. At Mount Edgecumbe, where he spent the past three years, the remnants of a plan are being formalized and staff are being trained. SB 125 will detract from other training activities that school districts would like to engage in, however new staff can be trained during orientation, and retraining can be done during a staff meeting rather than during an inservice day. Number 281 SENATOR MACKIE assumed most school districts have a policy on, and require training for, responses to bomb threats and fire alarms. He questioned whether SB 125 will deviate from that response training or whether it can easily be added to an existing plan. MR. JOHNSON stated he believes crisis response could be another component added to existing plans that focus on natural disaster response. He added most school districts already have plans to deal with threats of explosives in schools but many schools have not established a plan to address the presence of a gunman in the school. Number 303 JOHN ANGAIAK, representing the Alaska Association of School Boards, and a member of the Lower Yukon Kuskokwim School District, stressed that the 135,000 students currently attending Alaska schools need to feel comfortable in their learning environment. He asked committee members to put SB 125 on the fast track and to pass the legislation. There being no further testimony on SB 125, SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt the proposed CSSB 125(CRA)in lieu of the original bill. There being no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR PHILLIPS moved CSSB 125(CRA) out of committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. There being no further business to come before the committee, CHAIRMAN KELLY adjourned the meeting at 1:55 p.m.