Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/26/2015 03:30 PM EDUCATION

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 26, 2015                                                                                         
                           3:30 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Mike Dunleavy, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Berta Gardner                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 79                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to reemployment of persons who retire under the                                                                
defined benefit plan of the teachers' retirement system."                                                                       
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
SENATE BILL NO. 80                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to  the duties of  the Department  of Education                                                               
and  Early Development;  relating  to  educational standards  and                                                               
assessments;   relating   to   an   educational   standards   and                                                               
assessments  review committee;  and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 79                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DUNLEAVY                                                                                                 
03/18/15       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/18/15       (S)       EDC, CRA                                                                                               
03/26/15       (S)       EDC AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 80                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: ED. STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS/FED FUNDS                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DUNLEAVY                                                                                                 
03/18/15       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/18/15       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
03/26/15       (S)       EDC AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:30:11 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  MIKE   DUNLEAVY  called  the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 3:30  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were   Senators  Huggins,  Giessel,  Gardner,   and  Chair                                                               
Dunleavy. He said he would introduce SB 79 and SB 80 today.                                                                     
         SB 79-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                     
3:31:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced  the consideration of SB 79.  He said in                                                               
years past  there have  been retiree  hire bills.  The bill  is a                                                               
tool for districts if they feel  the need to expand their pool of                                                               
qualified educators. As sponsor, he read the sponsor statement:                                                                 
     Currently   Alaska  is   experiencing  a   shortage  of                                                                    
     qualified educators,  especially in hard to  fill areas                                                                    
     of  the  state. This  situation  is  compounded by  the                                                                    
     drastic  reduction  in state  revenue  due  to low  oil                                                                    
     prices.   Senate   Bill   79  expands   the   pool   of                                                                    
     experienced,  qualified educators  available to  school                                                                    
     This  legislation   will  allow  school   districts  to                                                                    
     reemploy  educators who  are currently  retired for  at                                                                    
     least  three months.  This bill  will  not require  any                                                                    
     school  district  to  reemploy any  particular  retired                                                                    
     individual. It  will only give  the district  an option                                                                    
     to do  so. Under SB 79,  a school district may  offer a                                                                    
     contract  to  a retired  educator  for  a part-time  or                                                                    
     full-time positon at a lower cost to the district.                                                                         
     Educators reemployed  under this provision  continue to                                                                    
     receive  retirement  benefits   during  the  period  of                                                                    
     reemployment. SB  79 provides one more  tool for school                                                                    
     districts  struggling  from  a  shortage  of  qualified                                                                    
     educators,  as  well  as   a  significant  decrease  in                                                                    
     funding. I hope that you will give it your support.                                                                        
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY  said SB  79  is  a straightforward  bill.  Staff                                                               
worked with  departments others associated with  education to put                                                               
the bill  together, looked at what  was done in the  past, and at                                                               
federal and state laws.  The goal is to try to  get as many tools                                                               
as possible for  districts in preparation for what may  be a long                                                               
downturn in state revenues.                                                                                                     
He recognized the presence of Senator Stevens.                                                                                  
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY stated  that  SB 79  allows  school districts  to                                                               
determine their needs.                                                                                                          
3:34:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER asked  why this  concept couldn't  be opened  to                                                               
others in state service besides educators.                                                                                      
CHAIR DUNLEAVY commented that his focus is in education.                                                                        
SENATOR GARDNER  said at  one time she  would not  have supported                                                               
such  a bill,  but has  been persuaded  that it  is valuable  for                                                               
CHAIR DUNLEAVY described his experience  with teacher turnover in                                                               
rural and urban Alaska and the  success of the mentor program. He                                                               
suggested   the  pool   of  teachers   could  be   enlarged  with                                                               
experienced educators.                                                                                                          
3:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said it is  worth the discussion. He  found that                                                               
teachers become better the longer  they teach. He asked about the                                                               
insurance benefits for these retirees.  He assumed there would be                                                               
no cost to the state because  the teachers are retirees. He asked                                                               
if part-time teachers would earned  retirement benefits or just a                                                               
negotiated salary.                                                                                                              
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  said the  model is the  mentor project  where the                                                               
teachers were retired and only  received compensation from a paid                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  recalled long  discussions in  other occupations                                                               
regarding double dipping.                                                                                                       
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  said he is  open to  suggestions. His goal  is to                                                               
get  a larger  pool of  teachers, especially  during a  prolonged                                                               
downturn in revenue, at the request of school districts.                                                                        
3:39:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS recalled the same discussion in the Department                                                                  
of Fish and Game. He thought it could potentially be abused,                                                                    
especially under retirement incentive programs.                                                                                 
CHAIR DUNLEAVY said that was not the intent.                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY held SB 79 in committee.                                                                                         
         SB 80-ED. STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS/FED FUNDS                                                                      
3:42:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced the consideration of SB 80. As sponsor,                                                                
he read the sponsor statement:                                                                                                  
     SB 80  establishes an active  role in  public education                                                                    
     for  the legislature  by requiring  the legislature  to                                                                    
     give final approval  of statewide educational standards                                                                    
     and  standardized assessments.  Public  education is  a                                                                    
     primary  governmental function  and the  legislature is                                                                    
     the ultimate authority in  Alaska for public education.                                                                    
     This authority  is outlined in the  Alaska Constitution                                                                    
     and has been emphasized  in recent court cases. Article                                                                    
     7   of   the   Alaska  Constitution,   titled   Health,                                                                    
     Education,  and Welfare  requires  in  part that,  "The                                                                    
     legislature   shall  by   general  law   establish  and                                                                    
     maintain  a  system  of  public  schools  open  to  all                                                                    
     children of the State…." In  the recent Moore vs. State                                                                    
     of  Alaska case,  it was  stated  "…this Court  returns                                                                    
     once again to the  language of the Alaska Constitution,                                                                    
     which places  the responsibility 'to maintain  a system                                                                    
     of public  schools open to  all children of  the state'                                                                    
     squarely upon the legislature  -not upon the Department                                                                    
     of Education  and Early Development and  not upon local                                                                    
     school districts."                                                                                                         
     In light  of growing concerns surrounding  the adoption                                                                    
     of a  new set  of standards  and assessments,  and with                                                                    
     more accountability  being demanded  by the  public, it                                                                    
     is crucial  that the adopted standards  and assessments                                                                    
     our state  mandates be selected through  a process that                                                                    
     directly involves the public and the legislature.                                                                          
     SB 80 requires state  adopted standards and assessments                                                                    
     to be:                                                                                                                     
     -  reviewed  at  least  once  every  five  years  by  a                                                                    
     committee composed of no less  than 50% of parents with                                                                    
     school age children                                                                                                        
     - reviewed starting  in 2015 with a  report and request                                                                    
     for approval during the 2016 legislative session                                                                           
     - approved by the legislature                                                                                              
     SB  80 also  prevents the  Department of  Education and                                                                    
     Early  Development  from  accepting grants  which  have                                                                    
     associated    standards   and    mandates   (such    as                                                                    
     assessments), unless approved by the legislature.                                                                          
     The  legislature needs  to step  up its  responsibility                                                                    
     for  public education.  I request  your support  for SB
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY  said  there  is   a  strong  executive  form  of                                                               
government  in  Alaska.  Years ago,  the  legislature  ceded  its                                                               
authority to  the Department of  Education and  Early Development                                                               
(DEED) to select and adopt  standards and assessments and to take                                                               
on  grants.  Curriculum, by  law,  has  been reserved  to  school                                                               
districts. The  issues of  Common Core  and the  Alaska Standards                                                               
involved DEED, and  the legislature did not have  to approve them                                                               
or  their related  assessments. He  provided the  history of  the                                                               
state's grant  involvement from 1965  on. Today,  the legislature                                                               
does not have to approve the department's acceptance of grants.                                                                 
3:47:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  stated that  SB 80  is an  opportunity to  have a                                                               
larger discussion  that includes the legislature.  Currently, the                                                               
legislature  only   appropriates  funds.   He  said  he   is  not                                                               
indicating that the  department is not doing its  job. It appears                                                               
that  the federal  government is  becoming more  active in  state                                                               
education and the  bill allows the legislature to be  part of the                                                               
He related  that No Child Left  Behind was passed by  Congress in                                                               
2001.  Secretary   of  State  Arnie   Duncan,  some   would  say,                                                               
unilaterally changed that  law without an act  of Congress. Along                                                               
with the  changes and  the money comes  the mandates  without the                                                               
legislature  having a  say. He  concluded that  SB 80  allows the                                                               
legislature to be a part of the process.                                                                                        
He noted there may be several changes in the bill.                                                                              
3:50:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said he supports the idea.                                                                                      
SENATOR  STEVENS  said  the  bill is  quite  different  from  the                                                               
current system,  but he is  willing to listen to  the discussion.                                                               
He opined that  school boards play a key role  in the process and                                                               
he wants  to depend  on their opinion.  He questioned  what would                                                               
happened if  all departments undertake this  procedure. He noted,                                                               
having served  in the legislature  for 15 years, there  have been                                                               
chairs and  members of the  Education Committee that  didn't know                                                               
the first  thing about  education.   He stated  that the  bill is                                                               
transferring a  lot of power  to the Education Committee  and its                                                               
CHAIR DUNLEAVY said he looks  forward to the discussion. He noted                                                               
he has looked into the involvement  of school boards and would be                                                               
sharing that information. Legislative  Legal reminded the sponsor                                                               
that  the legislature  is responsible  for education,  not school                                                               
boards.  He said  he wants  to  have presentations  by the  State                                                               
School  Board. He  concluded that  he  fears mandates  associated                                                               
with  federal grants  and it  is worth  exploring that  issue. He                                                               
said it  might make a  difference if  the State School  Board was                                                               
[CHAIR DUNLEAVY held SB 80 in committee.]                                                                                       
3:54:07 PM                                                                                                                    
There being nothing  further to come before  the committee, Chair                                                               
Dunleavy  adjourned the  Senate Education  Standing Committee  at                                                               
3:54 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 79 Legislation.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 79 Sectional Analysis.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 79 Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 80 Legislation.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 80
SB 80 Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 80
SB 80 Fiscal Note.pdf SEDC 3/26/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 80