Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/28/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Heard & Held
Base Student Allocation
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSSCR 12(EDC) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 28, 2014                                                                                        
                           8:00 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Mike Dunleavy, Vice Chair                                                                                               
Senator Bert Stedman                                                                                                            
Senator Charlie Huggins                                                                                                         
Senator Berta Gardner                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 12                                                                                             
Proclaiming February to be Public Education Month.                                                                              
     - MOVED CSSCR 12(EDC) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 139                                                                                                             
"An  Act  increasing the  base  student  allocation used  in  the                                                               
formula  for state  funding of  public  education; repealing  the                                                               
secondary    student   competency    examination   and    related                                                               
requirements;  relating  to  high  school  course  credit  earned                                                               
through assessment;  relating to  a college and  career readiness                                                               
assessment  for secondary  students; relating  to charter  school                                                               
application appeals and program  budgets; relating to residential                                                               
school applications;  increasing the stipend for  boarding school                                                               
students;  extending unemployment  contributions  for the  Alaska                                                               
technical and  vocational education program; relating  to earning                                                               
high  school  credit  for   completion  of  vocational  education                                                               
courses   offered  by   institutions   receiving  technical   and                                                               
vocational education  program funding; relating to  education tax                                                               
credits;  making  conforming  amendments; and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 147                                                                                                             
"An Act increasing  and providing an inflation  adjustment to the                                                               
base student allocation used in  the formula for state funding of                                                               
public education; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SCR 12                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: FEBRUARY PUBLIC EDUCATION MONTH                                                                                    
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) GARDNER                                                                                                  
02/03/14       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/14       (S)       EDC                                                                                                    
02/26/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/26/14       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
BILL: SB 139                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/24/14       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/24/14       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
02/03/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/03/14       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/14       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/10/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/10/14       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/10/14       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/24/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/24/14       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
02/26/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/26/14       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/26/14       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/28/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
BILL: SB 147                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): GARDNER                                                                                                             
01/31/14       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/31/14       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
02/28/14       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
THOMAS PRESLEY, Staff                                                                                                           
Senator Berta Gardner                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SCR 12 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                
LES MORSE, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on SB 139.                                                                          
ELIZABETH NUDELMAN, Director                                                                                                    
School Finance                                                                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information related to SB 139.                                                                  
THOMAS PRESLEY, Staff                                                                                                           
Senator Berta Gardner                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SCR 12 and SB 147 on behalf of the                                                              
TAM AGOSTI-GISLER, President                                                                                                    
Anchorage School Board                                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
PAT GALVIN, representing himself                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
KAREN MARTINSEN, Teacher                                                                                                        
Southeast Career Consortium                                                                                                     
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of SB 147.                                                                             
ROBERT BOYLE, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Ketchikan School District                                                                                                       
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on the BSA component in SB 139 and                                                              
in SB 147.                                                                                                                      
LON GARRISON, President                                                                                                         
Sitka School Board                                                                                                              
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
SUNNI HILTS, President                                                                                                          
Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                                             
Seldovia, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of increasing the BSA.                                                               
BARB JEWELL, Member                                                                                                             
Cordova School Board                                                                                                            
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
NORA HERZOG, Member                                                                                                             
Students with a Voice                                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of SB 147.                                                                             
BRIDGET GALVIN, Students with a Voice                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
ALISON ARIANS, Member                                                                                                           
Great Alaska Schools                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
KATHY TRAN, Student                                                                                                             
Floyd Dryden Middle School                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 147.                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:00:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  called   the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 8:00  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Gardner,  Stedman,  Huggins, Dunleavy,  and                                                               
Chair Stevens.                                                                                                                  
             SCR 12-FEBRUARY PUBLIC EDUCATION MONTH                                                                         
8:00:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be SCR 12. He said the  committee would hear from the sponsor and                                                               
take public testimony.  He noted that SB 147 and  SB 139 would be                                                               
heard  simultaneously and  would focus  specifically on  the Base                                                               
Student Allocation (BSA). He said  he would keep public testimony                                                               
open beyond today's meeting.                                                                                                    
8:02:09 AM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  PRESLEY,  Staff,  Senator  Berta  Gardner,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, presented SCR  12 on behalf  of the                                                               
sponsor. He  said the  motivation for introducing  SCR 12  was to                                                               
proclaim February the Public Education  Month. The resolution was                                                               
written  after   Senator  Gardner  and   Representative  Drummond                                                               
visited all  the schools in  their district. They wished  to give                                                               
the  schools  credit for  some  of  the innovative  and  creative                                                               
things  they were  doing. After  the  visits he  said they  heard                                                               
about  an Anchorage  School District  parent  survey which  found                                                               
that 90  percent of parents  of students in public  schools would                                                               
recommend  their school  to others.  The same  survey also  found                                                               
that there are parents with  students waiting to get into charter                                                               
schools who  don't know the  name of their  neighborhood schools.                                                               
He concluded  that the resolution  would be  a good way  to raise                                                               
the level of public awareness.                                                                                                  
MR. PRESLEY noted that the  sponsor has drafted an amendment that                                                               
would change the date to be effective in February of 2015.                                                                      
8:04:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked for clarification  about the charter school                                                               
SENATOR GARDNER  explained that members  of the public  who don't                                                               
use neighborhood schools don't know  anything about them and what                                                               
they  offer. She  offered to  make  the survey  available to  the                                                               
committee when she receives it.  She said she loved the Anchorage                                                               
School District's idea to have  a "visit your public school month                                                               
in February" idea.  She opined that many people do  not know what                                                               
schools offer and  she supports any effort to get  members of the                                                               
public into schools.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS agreed.  He said  he would  like to  expand this                                                               
idea to a year of education  where every month is dedicated to an                                                               
element of education.                                                                                                           
8:05:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DUNLEAVY stated  that the  idea is  to make  people more                                                               
aware of neighborhood schools.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  GARDNER   said  yes;  the  whole   community,  not  just                                                               
SENATOR DUNLEAVY agreed. He said  engagement it key. He asked for                                                               
clarification regarding charter schools and waitlists.                                                                          
MR. PRESLEY reported  that the parent survey  showed that charter                                                               
school  parents on  a waitlist  did not  know the  name of  their                                                               
neighborhood schools.                                                                                                           
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  asked if  the children were  on a  waitlist for                                                               
public charter schools.                                                                                                         
MR. PRESLEY said yes.                                                                                                           
8:07:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS commented  that general  information about  public                                                               
education includes charter schools.                                                                                             
SENATOR STEDMAN  agreed with the  concept of building  the morale                                                               
of public schools. He wondered about the amendment date.                                                                        
CHAIR STEVENS apologized  for not getting to the  bill faster. He                                                               
asked what the amendment would do.                                                                                              
MR. PRESLEY reiterated that it  would change the date to February                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS requested a motion  regarding the amendment for the                                                               
purpose of discussion.                                                                                                          
MR. PRESLEY said it would be a conceptual amendment.                                                                            
8:08:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  moved to  adopt Conceptual  Amendment 1,  to add                                                               
"2015" to the date.                                                                                                             
CHAIR STEVENS objected for discussion.                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGGINS  wondered if February  would be the  best choice.                                                               
He suggested that the beginning of the year would be better.                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  said the Anchorage School  District was planning                                                               
for "Visit Your  Public School Month" for February.  She said she                                                               
is happy to  make it any date or time.  The federal government is                                                               
planning a week in November to honor education.                                                                                 
MR.  PRESLEY said  International Education  Week begins  November                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS  said  the  resolution  applies  to  all  school                                                               
districts. He thought it was a  good idea, but he would prefer it                                                               
last a year and highlight a different segment each month.                                                                       
CHAIR STEVENS asked where the amendment would go.                                                                               
MR. PRESLEY replied  that the date "2015" would be  added to page                                                               
2, line 11, after "February".                                                                                                   
There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                   
8:12:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  noted his support  of public education,  but he                                                               
thought the wording was odd.                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN suggested changing the wording.                                                                                 
SENATOR DUNLEAVY said it was interestingly worded.                                                                              
CHAIR STEVENS noted a zero fiscal note.                                                                                         
8:13:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER   said  she  is  strongly   considering  Senator                                                               
Huggins' suggestion  to make September Public  Education Month at                                                               
the  start of  the school  year.  There being  no objection,  the                                                               
motion carried.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS said there is no rush.                                                                                            
SENATOR HUGGINS  moved to  adopt Conceptual  Amendment 2,  to add                                                               
"September" to the date in place of "February."                                                                                 
SENATOR  DUNLEAVY  moved  to  report SCR  12,  as  amended,  from                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached  zero                                                               
fiscal  note.  There  being  no objection,  CSSCR  12  (EDC)  was                                                               
reported from the Senate Education Committee.                                                                                   
8:14:22 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
         SB 139-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
8:16:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
SB 139. He said the committee  would take up Sections 14, 15, and                                                               
16, which relate to the Base Student Allocation.                                                                                
8:16:43 AM                                                                                                                    
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development  (DEED), Juneau, Alaska,  presented information                                                               
on SB 139.                                                                                                                      
ELIZABETH  NUDELMAN,  Director,  School  Finance,  Department  of                                                               
Education   and  Early   Development   (DEED),  Juneau,   Alaska,                                                               
presented information related to SB 139.                                                                                        
8:17:22 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
8:17:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MORSE  said Sections 14,  15, and 16 begin  on page 9  of the                                                               
bill.  These  sections provide  a  modest  increase in  the  Base                                                               
Student  Allocation  (BSA)  the  first   year  for  $85  and  the                                                               
following  two years,  $58 each.  That works  out to  1.5 percent                                                               
increase the first  year and 1 percent each of  the two following                                                               
years. The increase  was put forward to begin  a dialogue around,                                                               
not  only  the  funding  of education,  but  greater  educational                                                               
issues. He  said it  is an  appropriate increase  considering the                                                               
fiscal climate and it is a piece of a larger package.                                                                           
SENATOR GARDNER  noted in Section  13 an increase in  the stipend                                                               
for room  and board expenses.  She requested a comparison  of the                                                               
1.5 percent increase and the almost 50 percent stipend increase.                                                                
MR.  MORSE  explained  that  they   are  looked  at  differently.                                                               
Boarding  school  students also  receive  the  BSA. The  boarding                                                               
school stipend reflects true costs that go beyond the BSA.                                                                      
SENATOR GARDNER  concluded that for the  boarding school stipend,                                                               
true cost numbers are used; for the BSA they are not used.                                                                      
MR. MORSE clarified that the BSA  was brought forward as a modest                                                               
increase  and  the administration  is  interested  in a  dialogue                                                               
continuing within  the legislative process. The  stipend is based                                                               
on true costs.                                                                                                                  
8:21:21 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DUNLEAVY  asked  how  much   money  has  been  put  into                                                               
education over  the last 10 years.  He said the BSA  gets lost in                                                               
the discussion.  He asked if  the BSA  is the only  component for                                                               
funding schools.                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE  offered  to provide  further  information  about  the                                                               
amount spent on education. He said  there are other pieces of the                                                               
formula  besides  the BSA,  such  as  the cost  differential  and                                                               
intensive student funding.  The funding during the  past 10 years                                                               
has increased. There  are those who would argue  that other thing                                                               
should  be  included as  education  funding,  such as  retirement                                                               
8:23:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. NUDELMAN concurred.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  STEVENS suggested  including the  cost of  transportation,                                                               
fuel, and energy.                                                                                                               
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  said there  is a narrative  being spun  that no                                                               
money is going  to education. He understood that  upwards of $100                                                               
million additional  per year has  been going to  education, which                                                               
includes  retirement costs  and  school  construction, while  the                                                               
student population has declined. He asked if that was correct.                                                                  
MR. MORSE  said that  sounds correct.  Some feel  that retirement                                                               
and debt should not be counted as part of education funding.                                                                    
8:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   DUNLEAVY  pointed   out   that   the  legislature   has                                                               
constructed an  education system  over the  past 50  years, along                                                               
with some  help from the  federal government. When  educators are                                                               
asking for resources,  they are requesting funds  for the program                                                               
the  legislature has  developed. They  are not  greedy or  out of                                                               
line.  He suggested  the legislature  either fund  education with                                                               
the  funding  level  it  needs   to  operate  under  the  current                                                               
construct,  or   change  the   construct.  Keeping   the  current                                                               
construct  and  not  funding  it  is  a  disservice  to  Alaska's                                                               
8:26:14 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER addressed  the issue  of inflation-proofing  the                                                               
BSA in statute.                                                                                                                 
MR. MORSE said  the administration is supporting SB  139 in light                                                               
of the current fiscal climate.                                                                                                  
SENATOR STEDMAN also requested  the financial information Senator                                                               
Dunleavy requested  about the following costs:  PERS/TRS, energy,                                                               
major maintenance,  new construction.  That would provide  a wide                                                               
view of the total cost to the state.                                                                                            
CHAIR STEVENS  asked for the  information in a  reasonable amount                                                               
of time.                                                                                                                        
MR. MORSE agreed to provide the  requested data. He said there is                                                               
information from previous hearings available.                                                                                   
8:28:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked Mr. Morse if  he could do a projection into                                                               
the next  year or two and  include the per pupil  monthly stipend                                                               
for  boarding schools.  She thought  that  information should  be                                                               
reflected on the fiscal note.                                                                                                   
MR.  MORSE said  the information  is found  in a  separate fiscal                                                               
note.  The  analysis  breaks  out the  number  of  students  that                                                               
receive the stipend.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  STEVENS  commented  that  there are  a  number  of  pieces                                                               
involved; the committee's focus is on the BSA today.                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS pointed  out that  stipends are  weighted toward                                                               
Native populations.                                                                                                             
MR.  MORSE  said  that  is   generally  true.  For  example,  Mt.                                                               
Edgecombe serves mostly Alaska Native  students from rural areas,                                                               
as do most boarding schools.                                                                                                    
8:30:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   HUGGINS   said   he    is   very   uncomfortable   with                                                               
distinguishing  between funding  Native  students versus  funding                                                               
urban students.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS said the committee would  get to that issue in more                                                               
detail later.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  STEDMAN  noted  the  difficulty  of  projecting  student                                                               
enrollment.  He  said  he  has  a hard  time  with  the  idea  of                                                               
embedding inflation indexes into budgetary processes.                                                                           
SENATOR  DUNLEAVY stated  that  education  is a  constitutionally                                                               
mandated program. He  said the state funds  adult education which                                                               
is not  mandated. He maintained  that public education  should be                                                               
funded first, before other programs, up front.                                                                                  
8:34:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN said  he takes  a broader  view. He  pointed out                                                               
that  there  is  a  gas  line  pending,  and  due  to  the  small                                                               
population in Alaska, he wished  to enhance training programs for                                                               
Alaska gas line workers.                                                                                                        
CHAIR STEVENS said they are all good points.                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS returned  to the topic of  inflation proofing and                                                               
maintained  that the  federal government  is out  of control.  He                                                               
agreed that education is the  number one issue. He suggested that                                                               
inflation proofing does bind future legislatures.                                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS held SB 139 in committee.                                                                                         
                 SB 147-BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                             
8:37:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be SB 147.                                                                                                                      
THOMAS  PRESLEY,  Staff,  Senator  Berta  Gardner,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, presented SB  147 on behalf  of the                                                               
sponsor. He  explained that the  bill increases the  Base Student                                                               
Allocation (BSA)  by $404 from  the current $56.80. Section  2 of                                                               
the  bill inflation  proofs the  BSA  formula to  track with  the                                                               
Consumer Price  Index (CPI). He  said the sponsor got  the amount                                                               
of $404  from a  legislative research study  that showed,  over a                                                               
period of  three years,  there was  a 7 percent  loss in  the BSA                                                               
from inflation.  The $404 would  replenish the BSA from  the last                                                               
time it was increased in FY 11.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  if the  study  took  into  consideration                                                               
monies for safety, maintenance, and transportation.                                                                             
MR. PRESLEY said the study focused only on the BSA.                                                                             
SENATOR  HUGGINS thought  the results  of the  study were  skewed                                                               
because it  did not measure the  total amount of money  that went                                                               
into education. He said he would like to see the study.                                                                         
SENATOR GARDNER noted the study is included in members' packets.                                                                
SENATOR DUNLEAVY said he would ask  the staff to read the sponsor                                                               
statement  and the  fiscal note  in order  to begin  a debate  on                                                               
inflation and the situation in schools today.                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony.                                                                                          
8:41:30 AM                                                                                                                    
TAM AGOSTI-GISLER, President,  Anchorage School Board, Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska,  testified  in  support  of  SB  147.  She  stressed  the                                                               
importance  of providing  opportunity  for students  in order  to                                                               
prepare them for  success in life. She shared that  the board had                                                               
to make $23 million in cuts this  year, on top of the $25 million                                                               
in cuts  made last year and  a probable $28 million  in cuts next                                                               
year. She shared  details of what was cut and  the effects of the                                                               
cuts. She noted the Anchorage  School District (ASD) had a higher                                                               
graduation rate and lower dropout rate than ever before.                                                                        
She explained  why costs in  education have risen. Alaska  is the                                                               
most  expensive  state  for  health care  benefits.  The  ASD  is                                                               
currently negotiating  to decrease  those costs. The  most recent                                                               
employee negotiations  bend health  care costs down  to inflation                                                               
by  increasing eligibility  levels  and  freezing the  district's                                                               
annual medical contribution in the third year of the contract.                                                                  
She said that  while the board supports the  Governor's intent to                                                               
increase  the BSA,  it  supports  a higher  amount.  In order  to                                                               
sustain the ASD  in the next three years, a  BSA increase of $250                                                               
the first  year, $200 in the  second, and $200 in  the third year                                                               
would be  needed. If a $400  increase were provided in  one year,                                                               
such as  proposed in  SB 147,  the ASD  would need  an additional                                                               
$125  each of  the  following two  years.  Most importantly,  the                                                               
district  would need  an annual  CPI adjustment  to the  BSA. She                                                               
voiced appreciation for the support  the legislature has given to                                                               
the  district over  the years,  not only  for the  BSA, but  also                                                               
through  legislative   grants,  debt  reimbursement   on  capital                                                               
projects,  retirement  liability   repayments,  and  funding  for                                                               
needed safety improvements last year.                                                                                           
She  concluded  that  the  board  would like  to  work  with  the                                                               
legislature on  how to  reduce some  capital spending  that would                                                               
make room for more operating funds.                                                                                             
8:46:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN noted that there  will be budget deficits for the                                                               
foreseeable  future. He  inquired how  much deficit  Anchorage is                                                               
comfortable with.                                                                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said it is  her personal opinion that they need                                                               
to reprioritize  where some of  the funding is going.  She opined                                                               
that the  state must first look  at what it costs  to fund public                                                               
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  asked her  to repeat  her comment  regarding SB                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER reiterated her comment.                                                                                       
SENATOR  DUNLEAVY asked  if ASD's  finance manager  has projected                                                               
out over five  years what the expenditure/revenue gap  will be if                                                               
nothing is done in the BSA.                                                                                                     
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said  yes, but she does not  have those details                                                               
in front of her.                                                                                                                
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked if  it was safe to say it  would be in the                                                               
tens of millions.                                                                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER replied "or higher."                                                                                          
SENATOR  HUGGINS said  the legislature  wants to  be part  of the                                                               
solution, not  part of  the problem. He  asked what  the upcoming                                                               
budget shortfall is.                                                                                                            
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER  reiterated that the district  would experience                                                               
a  $23 million  deficit and  would be  cutting approximately  200                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  if any  were  new positions  paid for  by                                                               
federal dollars.                                                                                                                
MS.  AGOSTI-GISLER said  many of  those positions  were cut  last                                                               
year. This  year 140  teachers were  cut; a few  were cut  due to                                                               
declining student  enrollment, but the  majority of cuts  have to                                                               
do with the deficit.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS  requested  those  numbers. He  asked  what  the                                                               
enrollment projection is for next year.                                                                                         
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER  replied that  there are about  48,000 students                                                               
this year and there were 49,300 last year.                                                                                      
SENATOR HUGGINS concluded it was  a projected loss of about 1,300                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER  said those  numbers are  based on  this year's                                                               
count and on projections for next year.                                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS asked which areas create the deficit.                                                                           
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER reiterated that health care is number one.                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked if the district supports pooling.                                                                         
MS.  AGOSTI-GISLER responded  if  it is  just  pooling of  school                                                               
districts,  there  is no  cost  savings.  A larger  collaborative                                                               
cooperative  group  medical  service  that  includes  public  and                                                               
private  partnerships  could provide  that  value.  She said  the                                                               
school  board recently  adopted  a resolution  that supports  the                                                               
goals included  in the Alaska  HR leadership  networks resolution                                                               
and   support    for   the   Alaska   Health    Care   Commission                                                               
recommendation.  This endorses  the  administration's efforts  to                                                               
continue  an exploration  of public/private  employer partnership                                                               
to  enable,   but  not  require,   a  large   scale  consolidated                                                               
procurement of medical services.                                                                                                
8:51:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   HUGGINS  asked   for  the   number  that   health  care                                                               
contributes to the deficit.                                                                                                     
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER she offered to provide that information.                                                                      
SENATOR HUGGINS requested a repeat of the other categories.                                                                     
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER reiterated that  besides health care, there are                                                               
increased needs in technology,  especially online assessments and                                                               
teacher evaluations, energy costs, and inflation.                                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS asked if inflation is part of it.                                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said yes.                                                                                                     
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked for a definition of inflation.                                                                           
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER explained it is CPI.                                                                                          
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked  if contracts with labor  groups have been                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER  said they were  settled the end  of September.                                                               
She reiterated that the district was  able to bend the cost curve                                                               
on health care  down to inflation. The  district's annual medical                                                               
contribution was frozen for the third year of the contract.                                                                     
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked if there was an increase in salary.                                                                      
MS.  AGOSTI-GISLER  said  it  was  for  minimal  steps  and  lane                                                               
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked if there was a percentage increase.                                                                      
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said it was 1 percent.                                                                                        
SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked if it was a part of inflation.                                                                           
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said yes.                                                                                                     
8:53:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER mentioned that there  has been no support in this                                                               
body or in the administration  for inflation-proofing of the BSA.                                                               
She inquired what impact that would  have on the ability to plan,                                                               
compared to putting into statute three step BSA increases.                                                                      
MS.  AGOSTI-GISLER  replied  that  the district  is  spending  an                                                               
inordinate amount  of time on  budgets and cuts.  Without knowing                                                               
what the  future revenues will  be, it  is difficult to  focus on                                                               
the  more  important task  of  raising  the academic  achievement                                                               
level. She emphasized a need to  dedicate time to programs and to                                                               
raise academic achievement and graduation rates.                                                                                
SENATOR GARDNER  asked if it  makes a  huge difference to  have a                                                               
three-step funding  plan, compared  to having  a set  figure now,                                                               
knowing that would be inflation proofed in the out years.                                                                       
MS.  AGOSTI-GISLER  said  with inflation  proofing  there  is  an                                                               
option  for  more advanced  planning.  A  three-step plan  allows                                                               
planning in  the immediate future, but  inflation proofing allows                                                               
for further planning.                                                                                                           
8:56:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  reported that many  school districts said  a BSA                                                               
increase for  only one  year would not  allow for  rehiring those                                                               
who were  cut. She  asked if Ms.  Agosti-Gisler agreed  with that                                                               
position for ASD.                                                                                                               
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER said it is  difficult to hire and retain people                                                               
if they know it is for a one-year contract.                                                                                     
8:57:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  noted that public testimony  would continue beyond                                                               
today's meeting.                                                                                                                
PAT  GALVIN, representing  himself, Anchorage,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in support  of SB  147. He said  he is a  parent member  of Great                                                               
Alaska  Schools  -  Anchorage,   which  was  recently  formed  in                                                               
response to the ASD budget  situation. He stated that an increase                                                               
of at  least $400 is  appropriate in  order to restore  the value                                                               
available in  the schools several  years ago. He  recognized that                                                               
there are a  number of other budgetary issues,  but he maintained                                                               
that education should be a priority.                                                                                            
He  reported  on the  effects  of  recent  cuts  in the  loss  of                                                               
counselors and advisors. He recognized  the state has prioritized                                                               
education-spending  in  the  past  which   has  led  to  dramatic                                                               
results.   Anchorage  has   experienced  a   turnaround  in   the                                                               
graduation rates  and reading levels,  and a decrease  in dropout                                                               
rates. Flat  funding has adversely affected  classrooms and there                                                               
is fear that graduation numbers will reverse.                                                                                   
SENATOR STEDMAN  said he would  be happy to add  progressivity in                                                               
education funding. He appreciated Mr. Galvin's broad view.                                                                      
9:03:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS told  a  story about  TransCanada  and how  many                                                               
schools the state could build.                                                                                                  
MR. GALVIN opined that the  $300 million investment was very good                                                               
for the state.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR HUGGINS said his number one priority is education.                                                                      
MR. GALVIN  said it  is a  matter of  the state's  priorities and                                                               
education is a very valuable investment in the state's future.                                                                  
9:06:13 AM                                                                                                                    
KAREN  MARTINSEN, teacher,  Southeast  Career Consortium,  Sitka,                                                               
Alaska, testified in favor of an increased BSA.                                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS noted the subject is the BSA.                                                                                     
MS. MARTINSEN  spoke in  support of  additional increases  in the                                                               
9:08:21 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT   BOYLE,   Superintendent,  Ketchikan   School   District,                                                               
Ketchikan, Alaska, testified on the  BSA components in SB 139 and                                                               
in SB  147. He said  he is in  favor of the  BSA in order  to get                                                               
away from one-time funding. One-time  funding hampers the ability                                                               
of school  districts to create  a quality  budget and to  look at                                                               
any kind of long-term adjustments.                                                                                              
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked about the  budget in the  Ketchikan School                                                               
SUPERINTENDENT  BOYLE said  the  district is  looking at  program                                                               
cuts, such as in technology upgrades, but no staffing cuts.                                                                     
9:10:44 AM                                                                                                                    
LON  GARRISON,  President,  Sitka School  Board,  Sitka,  Alaska,                                                               
testified  in  support  of  SB  147. He  said  the  Sitka  School                                                               
District  has consistently  outperformed  state  averages in  all                                                               
subject areas. It offers a  comprehensive home school program and                                                               
an  alternative high  school,  which  has successfully  graduated                                                               
over 145  students in the  last 20 years.  He said 89  percent of                                                               
those  students  have come  from  poverty,  over 50  percent  are                                                               
homeless,  and 12  percent are  pregnant  or parenting  students.                                                               
This is an example of a  program that has made the difference for                                                               
many students.  He related that Sitka  has overwhelming supported                                                               
bonds to support schools to the total of $6.12 million.                                                                         
He pointed out  that for FY 15 the Sitka  School District faces a                                                               
budget  deficit  of $1.6  million  or  nearly  8 percent  of  the                                                               
projected $20 million  budget. This could represent a  loss of 18                                                               
certified positions.  At present the district  estimates it would                                                               
take more  than a $500  increase in the BSA  to make up  for that                                                               
He said  SB 139 moves in  the right direction and  the multi-year                                                               
aspect provides some  certainty, but cannot make up  for the past                                                               
four years of  flat funding. On the other hand,  SB 147 does make                                                               
a  significant impact  to education  funding and  allows for  the                                                               
continual  adjustment  of the  BSA  based  on inflation.  A  $400                                                               
increase  to the  BSA would  provide  close to  an additional  $1                                                               
million in state foundation funding.                                                                                            
He spoke of unplanned costs  for new curricular materials and new                                                               
evaluation  tools for  2015 related  to new  state standards.  He                                                               
concluded  that an  increase in  the  BSA is  imperative for  the                                                               
Sitka School District. He concluded  that, "SB 139 gets us moving                                                               
in the right  direction, but does not move us  far enough. SB 147                                                               
approaches our  real need  and provides  a mechanism  for keeping                                                               
the BSA at an appropriate level."                                                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS thanked Mr. Garrison.                                                                                             
9:15:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SUNNI  HILTS, President,  Association  of  Alaska School  Boards,                                                               
Seldovia,  Alaska, testified  in support  of increasing  the BSA.                                                               
She  said  she  recognizes  legislative  support  of  significant                                                               
funding to pay down the liability  of TRS/PERS and the funding of                                                               
energy costs  and others. She  stressed that without  an increase                                                               
in BSA,  district budgets have to  be cut every year.  This means                                                               
eliminating  programs  that  are  making  a  difference,  cutting                                                               
teaching  positions,  and  raising the  pupil/teacher  ratio.  It                                                               
means  delaying technology  purchases  and  denying students  the                                                               
skills needed to enter the workforce.                                                                                           
She noted  that districts  have risen to  the challenge  given by                                                               
the  legislature by  increasing graduation  rates and  decreasing                                                               
dropout rates. She  concluded that this is a  time schools should                                                               
be celebrating instead of taking steps backwards.                                                                               
9:18:08 AM                                                                                                                    
BARB  JEWELL,  Member,  Cordova School  Board,  Cordova,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  147. She appreciated  that education                                                               
is a  major topic of  the legislature. She maintained  that costs                                                               
of providing education have increased  while the BSA has remained                                                               
flat.  Additional funds  have been  provided by  the legislature,                                                               
but have not been used in the classroom.                                                                                        
She said in  Cordova graduation rates are up and  are now over 90                                                               
percent. Dropout rates are down.  Cordova is listed as the number                                                               
six  school in  the state  and is  in the  top 8  percent in  the                                                               
country. This is  reflective of the investment  in education that                                                               
Cordova makes. She listed the ways  costs have been cut. She said                                                               
the community funds to the maximum amount.                                                                                      
She concluded that without an  increase in the BSA, programs that                                                               
have served students  well will be in  danger. Inflation proofing                                                               
the  BSA provides  additional  stability  and sustainability  for                                                               
9:20:54 AM                                                                                                                    
NORA HERZOG,  Member, Students with  a Voice,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
testified  in favor  of SB  147. She  said she  is speaking  as a                                                               
student  concerned, not  only with  her own  education, but  also                                                               
with others' education. She related  that public education is one                                                               
of the most  important components of democracy.  According to the                                                               
Center  for  Ethical Leadership,  "We  need  public education  to                                                               
prepare people to be citizens capable of engaging the world."                                                                   
She said  that public education  prepares kids to  become caring,                                                               
active,  and  responsible   citizens.  An  informed,  intelligent                                                               
population is a  functional population. She stressed  the role of                                                               
public  education  in  equal  opportunity.  She  maintained  that                                                               
public  education  can  only  succeed with  the  support  of  the                                                               
community, students, teachers, and the government.                                                                              
She  urged  the  committee  to  invest  time  and  money  in  the                                                               
classroom in order  to create a population that  will continue to                                                               
strive  to make  Alaska  a great  government  and community.  She                                                               
stressed the  importance of the  fundamental right to  learn. She                                                               
credited  educators  for  inspiring  kids  to  become  productive                                                               
members of society.  She cautioned that class  size is increasing                                                               
due to inadequate funding.                                                                                                      
She concluded  that it is  vital to understand that  education is                                                               
not a business, it is an investment in the leaders of tomorrow.                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS thanked Ms. Herzog.                                                                                               
9:25:24 AM                                                                                                                    
BRIDGET  GALVIN,  Students  with   a  Voice,  Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB 147.  She said she is  representing a                                                               
movement  of students  from  all across  Alaska.  She stated  she                                                               
supports an increase  in the BSA of at least  $400 to restore the                                                               
money lost by inflation, as do  Students with a Voice. She shared                                                               
stories of  counselors missing,  overcrowded classrooms,  and the                                                               
loss of career  advisors. She clarified that she  is not speaking                                                               
because  teachers told  her  to,  but because  she  has seen  the                                                               
results of funding cuts to  education, which are hurting students                                                               
and the future of Alaska.                                                                                                       
She  asked  the committee  to  work  together toward  a  positive                                                               
future for Alaska.                                                                                                              
CHAIR STEVENS thanked Ms. Galvin.                                                                                               
SENATOR  GARDNER   said  she  especially  liked   Nora's  closing                                                               
comments. She requested a copy of them.                                                                                         
CHAIR STEVENS said it is good to hear from students.                                                                            
9:28:21 AM                                                                                                                    
ALISON ARIANS,  Member, Great Alaska Schools,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
testified in support of SB 147.  She said she is a small business                                                               
owner who  is concerned  about the cuts  schools are  facing. She                                                               
shared her personal  history. She urged the  committee to restore                                                               
the funds  that have  been eroded  with an  increase of  at least                                                               
$400 to the BSA, and to inflation proof the BSA.                                                                                
She  noted  that funding  mechanisms  are  very complicated,  but                                                               
maintained  that  prioritizing  education funding  really  works.                                                               
When  legislators  in  2004   significantly  increased  the  BSA,                                                               
Anchorage graduation rates were  turned around. Reading, writing,                                                               
and math  scores also improved.  She thanked the  legislature for                                                               
the increased  investment from 2004  to 2011. She  requested that                                                               
the legislature not cut off the tremendous progress.                                                                            
She noted that  the Anchorage School District  lost 200 positions                                                               
last year  and will lose  200 more  next year. There  has already                                                               
been a flattening in third  grade reading scores, probably due to                                                               
the reduction in teacher aids.                                                                                                  
She listed areas  of support in Anchorage  for adequately funding                                                               
schools. There  are more than  700 members of a  new organization                                                               
called  Great  Alaska  Schools -  Anchorage.  Parents,  community                                                               
members,  and  business people  are  coming  together to  promote                                                               
strong  public schools.  Many PTA  organizations  have also  come                                                               
together in a coalition to  support a significantly increased and                                                               
stabilized  BSA.  Also, Students  with  a  Voice has  almost  800                                                               
members.  She emphasized  the number  of vocal  people supporting                                                               
the BSA increase.                                                                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS thanked Ms. Arians.                                                                                               
9:32:24 AM                                                                                                                    
KATHY TRAN, Student, Floyd Dryden  Middle School, Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
testified in support  of SB 147. She urged the  committee to vote                                                               
"yes"  on  SB 147.  She  said  Anchorage, Juneau,  and  Fairbanks                                                               
schools have  had to  lay off  teachers in  order to  meet rising                                                               
costs  and  flat  funding.  Increased class  size  is  a  problem                                                               
because  close  interactions  between students  and  teachers  is                                                               
essential for  student success.  She shared  her experience  as a                                                               
student with positive relationships with teachers.                                                                              
She said many people want to  see SB 147 pass. The Association of                                                               
Alaska School  Boards is strongly  urging the legislature  for an                                                               
increase  to  the  BSA.  According   to  the  National  Education                                                               
Association,  Alaska's  per  pupil  expenditures  have  not  been                                                               
keeping up  with the rest of  the nation. An increase  in the BSA                                                               
will  save  important  programs  and  teachers'  jobs,  and  give                                                               
students the best educational environment they need and deserve.                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS thanked Ms. Tran. He held SB 147 in committee.                                                                    
9:35:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  noted public testimony  would continue at  a later                                                               
9:35:42 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Stevens adjourned the Senate Education Standing Committee                                                                 
at 9:35 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
12_SB147_Resolution_NonProfits_Support_Inflation_Proofing_BSA.pdf SEDC 2/28/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 147
13_SB147_WestHigh_PTSA_Resolution_BSA_Increase.PDF SEDC 2/28/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 147
14_SB139_Resolution_NonProfits_Support_Inflation_Proofing_BSA.pdf SEDC 2/28/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
15_SB139_WestHigh_PTSA_Resolution_BSA_Increase.PDF SEDC 2/28/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139