Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

01/20/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:01:26 AM Start
08:03:46 AM Overview: Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
09:32:23 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
-- Joint with House Education Committee --
+ Overview: Department of Education and Early TELECONFERENCED
Development
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        January 20, 2017                                                                                        
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Shelley Hughes, Chair                                                                                                  
 Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                           
 Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                          
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Chair                                                                                         
 Representative Justin Parish, Vice Chair                                                                                       
 Representative Zach Fansler                                                                                                    
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                   
 Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                               
 Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                      
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator John Coghill                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
Representative Daniel Ortiz                                                                                                     
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & EARLY DEVELOPMENT                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Ph.D., Commissioner                                                                                            
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  an overview  of the Department  of                                                            
Education and Early Development (DEED).                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HEIDI TESHNER, Administrative Services Director                                                                                 
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  information  about the  Department                                                            
of Education and Early Development (DEED) budget.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
8:01:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHELLEY  HUGHES called  the  joint  meeting of  the  Senate                                                            
Education  and House  Education  Standing Committees  to order  at                                                              
8:01 a.m.  Present  at the call  to order  were Senators  Stevens,                                                              
Giessel,  Begich,  and  Chair Hughes,  and  Representatives  Kopp,                                                              
Parish,   Fansler,  Johnston,   Talerico,   and  Chair   Drummond.                                                              
Representative Spohnholz arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
 ^OVERVIEW: ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & EARLY DEVELOPMENT                                                                  
  OVERVIEW: ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & EARLY DEVELOPMENT                                                              
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR HUGHES  began the  meeting by  paraphrasing from  the Alaska                                                              
Constitution, Article 7, Section 1:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain                                                                
     a system of public schools open to all children of the                                                                     
     State, and may provide for other public educational                                                                        
     institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall                                                                
     be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from                                                                
     public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or                                                                    
     other private educational institution.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She noted  that Section  3 establishes  the University  of Alaska,                                                              
which is governed by the Board of Regents.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:03:46 AM                                                                                                                    
Chair  Hughes welcomed  Representative  Spohnholz. She  recognized                                                              
the presence of Representative Thompson and Senator von Imhof.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
She stressed  that it is a  pivotal time in Alaska  and emphasized                                                              
the importance  of  education. She  said education  is the  key to                                                              
Alaska's children's  future and very  much a part of  the American                                                              
dream. It  unlocks doors for  children as  a way to  improve their                                                              
circumstances.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
She  requested  that each  member  of  the committee  share  their                                                              
background in education  and a reason why they  think education is                                                              
important.  She  shared  personal   experiences  with  the  public                                                              
school system  as a parent  of four children.  She said  one child                                                              
attended a private  school for several years and  she homeschooled                                                              
her children  briefly. She said  she has lived in  multiple school                                                              
districts  throughout the  state and has  a statewide  perspective                                                              
of rural  and urban  schools. She  related that  she attended  the                                                              
University  of   Alaska.  She  concluded   that  she   brings  the                                                              
perspective of families, students, and parents to the committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:06:13 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL said  she has been on the Education  Committee for                                                              
two  years.  She related  her  background  as  a mother  of  three                                                              
children who homeschooled  her children for 12  years during their                                                              
elementary  years.  Her  children  attended  public  school  after                                                              
that. She has served  as a School Board member and  her husband is                                                              
a  teacher.  She  wished  to  continue  the  committee's  work  to                                                              
increase  the effectiveness  of public schools.  She stressed  the                                                              
importance of reading.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:07:23 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  shared  that  he taught  at  the  University  of                                                              
Alaska  for 25  years as  a history  professor and  served as  the                                                              
president  of the Kodiak  School  Board for three  years during  a                                                              
time of extreme  budget cuts. He said a bill he  sponsored created                                                              
the Senate and  House Education Standing Committees.  He concluded                                                              
that  he is  dedicated to  public  education and  wants to  ensure                                                              
that the state provides the best education possible.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:08:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  shared his experience  as a graduate  of Anchorage                                                              
Public  Schools  and the  University  of  Alaska,  and as  a  peer                                                              
teacher. In his  private business he worked with  Citizens for the                                                              
Educational  Advancement   of  Alaska's   Children  on   both  the                                                              
Kasayulie and Moore  lawsuits. He has done strategic  planning for                                                              
school  districts.  He said  he  hopes to  continue  to build  and                                                              
strengthen education  so that it will make people  want to stay in                                                              
Alaska, allow  students to achieve  goals of further  education or                                                              
careers, and attract people to the state.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:09:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  noted Senate  members have  a wealth of  experience.                                                              
She  added that  she taught  four years  at a  private school  and                                                              
instructed in a  prison setting. She believes education  is key to                                                              
unlocking opportunity  and hopes  the committee can  help increase                                                              
the quality  of education, protect  funding in the  classroom, and                                                              
streamline administration.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES turned the gavel over to Chair Drummond.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DRUMMOND   assumed  the   gavel  and  introduced   the  LIO                                                              
moderator   and   Senate   Records   secretary.   She   recognized                                                              
Representative Daniel Ortiz.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:12:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO shared  his background  in education.  He                                                              
reported he served  on the Upper Railbelt School  Board and worked                                                              
with schools during  his time as the Denali Borough  mayor. He was                                                              
also  a  high  school basketball  coach  at  Tri-Valley  for  five                                                              
years.  He said  he and  his  wife, and  many  family members  are                                                              
graduates of Tri-Valley High School.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:12:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH shared  his background  as a public  school                                                              
student  in  Juneau,  plus  one semester  of  home  schooling.  He                                                              
attended  the University  of Alaska  - Fairbanks  and then  taught                                                              
English  in France  for about a  year. He  attended University  of                                                              
Alaska  - Southeast  and  then studied  in  China for  a year  and                                                              
taught  English there.  He  returned  to Juneau  and  worked as  a                                                              
substitute  teacher  and  then  became  a  para-educator  for  two                                                              
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:13:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  shared that  she is  a  mother of  three                                                              
children who  have gone through  both the Fairbanks  and Anchorage                                                              
school  systems. She  said  she  was an  outdoor  educator in  the                                                              
Anchorage  School  District  and   also  with  Cook  Inlet  Tribal                                                              
Council.  She  serves as  a  board  member of  Education  Matters,                                                              
which came  out of  the Mayor's Education  Taskforce and  an ARISE                                                              
board member under  the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.  She spent nine                                                              
years  on  the  Anchorage  Assembly.  She  wants  to  ensure  that                                                              
Alaskan  children  get an  education  and  state funding  goes  to                                                              
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:15:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER  said  he   was  a  math  teacher  at  the                                                              
Kuskokwim  Campus  of the  University  of  Alaska -  Fairbanks  in                                                              
Bethel. He  said education is a  priority and he wants  to have an                                                              
effective and comprehensive  education system pre-K  through post-                                                              
secondary education.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:15:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ said  she went  to the Anchorage  School                                                              
District  and  took  advantage  of  the  many  options  in  school                                                              
choice.  She  is the  mother  of  three  daughters in  the  school                                                              
system,  one who  has  special needs  and two  who  are in  gifted                                                              
programs.  She understands  the  challenges of  public schools  to                                                              
meet all students'  needs. She worked at the  University of Alaska                                                              
- Anchorage  to  help attract  private funding  to the  university                                                              
through endowments  and scholarships.  She shared that  her family                                                              
values  public   education.   She  said   she  is  interested   in                                                              
innovative programs in rural Alaska.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:20:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  said  he   has  had  a  diverse  educational                                                              
background  and his  parents were  educators in  rural Alaska.  He                                                              
spoke of  the importance of rural  schools. He said he  attended a                                                              
variety  of types  of schools  and  has strong  beliefs in  sports                                                              
programs.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:22:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND noted  members' talents and passion  for education.                                                              
She related  her experience  visiting rural  schools. As  a mother                                                              
she  became involved  in schools  when  her son  was in  relocated                                                              
classrooms  in Anchorage. She  was on  the Anchorage School  Board                                                              
nine years  when there was  a surge of  building new  schools. The                                                              
Alaska  Association  of  School  Boards  hosted  a  conference  in                                                              
Anchorage and  she said she was  able to meet members  from around                                                              
the  nation.  She  said  she  has  a  strong  interest  in  school                                                              
facilities. Her  goal is to make  sure kids continue to  receive a                                                              
world  class education  and to  move  forward in  spite of  budget                                                              
cuts.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:26:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  invited the  presenters to  begin the  overview on                                                              
the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED).                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:26:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL JOHNSON,  Ph.D., Commissioner  of Department  of Education                                                              
and Early Development  (DEED), presented a department  overview of                                                              
Department of Education  and Early Development (DEED).  He said as                                                              
the new  commissioner he hopes to  provide answers and  clarity to                                                              
the Education Committees  so that they can make  good decisions on                                                              
students'  behalf. He  thanked the  committees  for beginning  the                                                              
meeting  by  stating  their backgrounds  in  education  and  their                                                              
hopes. He  said he  is excited about  his role  and the  chance to                                                              
work with committee members.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  shared that  he  came  to Alaska  while  in                                                              
college to  work at  a summer camp  and then  began his  career in                                                              
education as  a special education  aid in the Copper  River School                                                              
District.  He became  a teacher  there,  a principal,  and then  a                                                              
superintendent.  He  opined that  there  are  many reasons  to  be                                                              
excited about  educational opportunities  for Alaska  students and                                                              
that the opportunities far exceed the challenges.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON introduced  Sana Efird,  Deputy Director  of                                                              
Department  of Education  and Early  Development  (DEED), who  was                                                              
present in the room.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:29:09 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON shared the objectives of the presentation:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Provide basic Alaska education facts and information                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Provide a broad overview of department functions along with                                                                
     statutory references for each function                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Provide an overview of basic information regarding DEED's                                                                  
     budget                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Answer committee members' questions                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
He shared the DEED's vision and mission statements:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Vision Statement                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     All students can succeed in their education and work, shape                                                                
     worthwhile and satisfying lives for themselves, exemplify                                                                  
     the best values of society, and be effective in improving                                                                  
     the character and quality of the world about them. AS                                                                      
     14.03.015                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Mission Statement                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     An excellent education for every student every day.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:31:09 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  listed the State Board of  Education & Early                                                              
Development's Strategic Priorities:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Amplify student learning                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Inspire community ownership of educational excellence                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Modernize the education system                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Ensure excellent educators                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Promote safety and well-being                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He said the  Board will continue their strategic  planning process                                                              
at the January meeting next week.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  provided   a  broad  overview  of  Alaska's                                                              
schools. He related  that there are 53 school  districts, plus Mt.                                                              
Edgecumbe  High  School.  There   are  currently  507  operational                                                              
schools.   The   public  school   system   includes   traditional,                                                              
alternative,  charter,  correspondence, and  residential  boarding                                                              
schools.  There  were  approximately   130,000  K-12  students  on                                                              
October  1  of  2015  and  9  percent   were  enrolled  in  public                                                              
correspondence schools.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:33:05 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON  referred   to  the  Alaska   Constitution,                                                              
Article  7,  Section  1,  which   requires  that  the  legislature                                                              
establish  and  maintain  a  public   education  system.  He  read                                                              
Section  1. He  read  the State  Education  Policy, AS  14.03.015:                                                              
"The purpose  of education  is to  help ensure  that all  students                                                              
will succeed in their education and work."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DRUMMOND  noted that questions will  be taken at  the end of                                                              
the presentation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  showed  DEED's   Organizational  Chart.  He                                                              
noted  he is  working  with department  staff  to restructure  the                                                              
department,  as recommended  in  the performance  review that  was                                                              
conducted  under HB  40.  He is  working  to  make the  department                                                              
effective in accomplishing  its mission and vision.  He noted that                                                              
in  2016 the  department had  a significant  change in  leadership                                                              
and is working hard to be able to meet legislative needs.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:35:35 AM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI  TESHNER, Administrative  Services  Director, Department  of                                                              
Education  and  Early Development  (DEED),  presented  information                                                              
about the  Department of  Education and  Early Development  (DEED)                                                              
budget.  She explained  that the  department  is made  up of  five                                                              
divisions  and three  boards and  commissions.  She described  the                                                              
structure   overview   and   function   of   each   division   and                                                              
board/commission  and   paraphrased  from  the   following  slides                                                              
throughout her presentation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
     -5 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                            
     -0.1% of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                            
     -$1,037.0 total budget request ($1,014.6 UGF)                                                                              
     -Provides policy direction and support to Alaska's school                                                                  
     districts, schools, students, parents, teachers, and                                                                       
     department programs that increase student achievement.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Administrative Services                                                                                                         
     -15 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                           
     -0.2% of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                            
     -$3,661.4 total budget request ($2,182.0 UGF)                                                                              
     -Provides centralized administrative management and                                                                        
     financial, budget, procurement, human resources, and                                                                       
     information technology support services to the department                                                                  
     divisions; and state facilities rent.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
School Finance and Facilities                                                                                                   
     -11 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                           
     -0.1% of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                            
     -$2,203.4 total budget request ($1,307.6 UGF)                                                                              
     -Allocates and accounts for resources distributed to Alaska                                                                
     school districts and Mt. Edgecumbe Boarding School and                                                                     
     provides services that promote safe facilities which                                                                       
     support quality education programs.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:39:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TESHNER described  various  types  of funding  that  programs                                                              
receive,  as  set  in statute:  the  foundation  funding  formula,                                                              
pupil  transportation program,  boarding  home  grants, youth  and                                                              
detention program funds, and special schools funds.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:42:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TESHNER continued with the Division of Teaching and Learning                                                                
Support, the largest division.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     -65 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                           
     -14.6% of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                           
     -$237,609.6 total budget request ($17,783.2 UGF)                                                                           
     -Provides support through federal program funding and                                                                      
     compliance; academic standards, academic assessment and                                                                    
     accountability; state system of support to increase school                                                                 
     effectiveness; and active partnerships.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:45:31 AM                                                                                                                    
Professional Teaching Practices Commission                                                                                      
     -2 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                            
     -0.0% of DEED'sFY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                             
     -$303.0 total budget request ($0.0 UGF)                                                                                    
     -Serves as a preventative and positive force in working to                                                                 
     enhance the professional performance of all educators, and                                                                 
     ensures that members of the teaching profession in                                                                         
     Alaska are qualified and ethical educators.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:46:38 AM                                                                                                                    
Alaska State Council on the Arts                                                                                                
     -5 full-time budgeted positions                                                                                            
     -0.2%of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                             
     -$2,768.5 total budget request ($692.8 UGF)                                                                                
     -Promotes and fosters the development of the arts for all                                                                  
     Alaskans through education, partnerships, grants, and                                                                      
     services.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:48:05 AM                                                                                                                    
Mt. Edgecumbe High School                                                                                                       
     -56 full and part-time budgeted positions                                                                                  
     -0.8% of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                            
     -$13,336.7 total budget request ($4,758.8 UGF)                                                                             
     -Provides a successful comprehensive residential high                                                                      
     school for Alaskan students.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
Libraries, Archives & Museums                                                                                                   
     -53 full, part-time, and non-perm budgeted positions                                                                       
     -0.8%of DEED's FY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                             
     -$13,326.2 total budget request ($8,084.2 UGF)                                                                             
     -Provides the public with access to government information;                                                                
     collects, organizes, preserves, and makes available                                                                        
     materials that document the history of the state; and                                                                      
     promotes the development of libraries archives and museums                                                                 
     statewide.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:50:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TESHNER turned  to  the  Alaska Commission  on  Postsecondary                                                              
Education found in DEED for administrative support only.                                                                        
     -86 full-time and non-perm budgeted positions                                                                              
     -2.8%of DEED'sFY2018 Operating Budget Request                                                                              
     -$45,635.9 total budget request ($0.0 UGF)                                                                                 
     -Promotes access to and success in education and career                                                                    
     training after high school; increases Alaska's physician                                                                   
     workforce by providing public medical education to Alaskans                                                                
     and by providing residency training for medical school                                                                     
     graduates (WWAMI Medical Education); Alaska Performance                                                                    
     Scholarship Awards; and the Alaska Student Loan                                                                            
     Corporation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:52:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TESHNER  turned to  a slide on  the FY2018 Governor's  Budget,                                                              
which is a little  over $1.6 billion. She listed  the K-12 formula                                                              
programs and  agency and program  operations by fund source.   She                                                              
said 80  percent of  the budget is  for K-12 programs:  foundation                                                              
formula,  pupil transportation,  boarding  home  grants, youth  in                                                              
detention  and  special schools.  She  noted  that 82  percent  is                                                              
general  funds  (GF)  and unrestricted  general  funds  (UGF),  15                                                              
percent is federal funds, and 4 percent is other funds.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:53:53 AM                                                                                                                    
She  addressed  the   budget  by  line  item.   The  total  budget                                                              
including all funds  was $1,621,976.2 of which 95  percent is from                                                              
grants. The remaining  5 percent is made up by  personal service -                                                              
2 percent, and other lines - 3 percent.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:54:20 AM                                                                                                                    
She  related  information  about   the  UGF  budget  which  totals                                                              
$1,394,483.0  and is  made  up of  98  percent  grants, 1  percent                                                              
personal services, and 1 percent other lines.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:54:45 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON recalled Governor  Walker's comments  during                                                              
the State  of the State  address when he  said the state  needs to                                                              
rethink  its  entire  system  of  public  education.  Commissioner                                                              
Johnson commented  that, "Though  many students in  Alaska receive                                                              
a great education,  far too many do not. We need  to make sure the                                                              
system  of  public  education  in  Alaska works  for  all  of  our                                                              
students."  He invited  each member  of the  committees to  become                                                              
directly  involved  in the  restructuring  process.  He said,  "In                                                              
2017 we can be  better and we can be more efficient."  He hopes in                                                              
the  future to  share many  examples  of how  districts are  being                                                              
more  efficient   and  innovative  in  delivering   education.  He                                                              
concluded  that he  looks forward  to working  with, and  learning                                                              
from, committee members, to meet Alaska's education challenges.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:56:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DRUMMOND  thanked  Commissioner   Johnson  and  opened  the                                                              
meeting for questions.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS requested  that Commissioner  Johnson invite  the                                                              
Alaska  State  Board  of  Education and  Early  Development  to  a                                                              
Senate Education meeting.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DRUMMOND recalled  that the  Board chair  only presents  to                                                              
the legislature once  per session. She noted that  the legislature                                                              
approves  Board   appointments,  as   well  as  Board   of  Regent                                                              
appointments.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:57:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  commented that she is excited  about what                                                              
she  has heard.  She encouraged  that  the new  strategic plan  be                                                              
measureable  as to its  effectiveness. She  commented that  in her                                                              
work  she's never  met a  student that  was not  very bright.  She                                                              
added  that  there are  many  bright  students  who have  not  had                                                              
educational opportunities.  She hopes the new plan  will be funded                                                              
in a way that reaches every student.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:58:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked  whether the positions of  Director of School                                                              
Finance and Administrative Services Director will be combined.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON said yes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted  that  the Board  has  established  and  is                                                              
moving  forward with  the Strategic  Plan. He  suggested that  the                                                              
Board involve  both House and  Senate Education Committees  in the                                                              
planning process.  He shared more information about  his education                                                              
background noting  his wife and  sisters, as well as  his parents,                                                              
were educators.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DRUMMOND noted that Senator Begich's wife was present.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:00:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   KOPP  congratulated   Commissioner  Johnson   and                                                              
Deputy  Commissioner  Efird.  He  said  he is  excited  about  the                                                              
future of education  in Alaska. He suggested  establishing another                                                              
residential   high   school   similar   to   Mt.   Edgecumbe   and                                                              
consolidating  some  districts. He  spoke  of directing  money  to                                                              
teachers in classrooms in order to arrive at efficient outcomes.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:01:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  thanked  Commissioner   Johnson  and  said  she  is                                                              
excited  about  innovation  in  education.  She  shared  a  strong                                                              
interest in  improving education  in rural  Alaska. She  said when                                                              
she  was living  in rural  Alaska, lack  of good  education was  a                                                              
reason her  family left. She stressed  that she has  an obligation                                                              
to ensure that there  is a focus on successful  education in rural                                                              
areas.  She  mentioned  the  need   to  "transform",  not  reform,                                                              
education.   She   suggested  taking   advantage   of   innovative                                                              
technology  to  increase  opportunities  for  rural  schools.  She                                                              
requested ideas  from communities, families, parents,  and schools                                                              
for  new possibilities.  She noted  the  Commissioner could  bring                                                              
ideas from his experiences.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:04:09 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  restated that  during  2017  there will  be                                                              
incredible  opportunity  to  provide  quality  education  in  ways                                                              
Alaska  has never  been  able to  do  before.  Many districts  are                                                              
already doing  some exciting projects.  He hoped soon  there would                                                              
be discussions between school districts and committees.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He  shared problems  at  Kenny Lake  School  in  the Copper  River                                                              
School  District  due to  loss  of  enrollment. He  described  the                                                              
challenge there  to provide  students with  a great education.  He                                                              
stressed  that  this  is  happening  all  over  rural  Alaska.  He                                                              
pointed out  that technology and  other innovations  are solutions                                                              
to  delivering great  instruction  to  rural areas.  He  concluded                                                              
that  he  looks  forward  to sharing  innovative  ideas  with  the                                                              
committees.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:06:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES said  her previously  mentioned story  was from  the                                                              
1980s  and  she  has  deep  admiration  for  rural  teachers.  The                                                              
committee  will  be  focusing  on   the  issue  of  exploring  new                                                              
delivery  models  to  the  classroom.  She  gave  the  example  of                                                              
learning  a   foreign  language.   She  voiced  appreciation   for                                                              
Commissioner Johnson's  leadership. She  concluded that a  goal is                                                              
to transform  education and promote  teaching in a  different kind                                                              
of way.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:09:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   BEGICH  echoed   the   enthusiasm   for  reforming   and                                                              
transforming  education.   He  asked  where  the   state  is  with                                                              
broadband access  in rural areas  and what the legislature  can do                                                              
to ensure there is access.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:10:45 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  offered to get  that data and share  it with                                                              
the  committees.   He  noted  the   department  has   been  having                                                              
conversations  with  the  Alaska   Association  of  School  Boards                                                              
(AASB) and Alaska School Administrators (ASA) on this topic.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:11:58 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS brought  up the  conversation  on citizenship  in                                                              
public  education. He  opined that  kids  don't understand  civics                                                              
and citizenship.  He suggested keeping citizenship as  a key point                                                              
in education.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:13:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER  agreed that  Western Alaska does  not have                                                              
access to  broadband and is at  a disadvantage. He  also suggested                                                              
more  curriculum  development  that   integrates  Native  cultural                                                              
norms into the curriculum.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:14:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ   echoed   concerns   about   lack   of                                                              
broadband.  She shared an  example of  doing distance  education -                                                              
an integrated delivery  of university nursing courses.  She said a                                                              
similar model in rural areas could be implemented.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
She  agreed  with  Senator  Stevens  about  the  need  for  civics                                                              
education  in  the  curriculum.  She stressed  the  importance  of                                                              
hands-on local involvement.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:19:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL  appreciated  the   discussion  on  broadband  in                                                              
distance education.  She shared her experience in  two rural areas                                                              
that had  excellent distance  education.  She maintained  that the                                                              
reason  distance  education  was  available was  due  to  resource                                                              
development  in the  areas. She  concluded that  "the best  social                                                              
program is a good job."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:22:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH   asked  what  is  being   done  to  retain                                                              
teachers in Alaska.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:22:47 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  replied that last  year there was over  a 12                                                              
percent  turnover   rate  for   Alaska  teachers,  a   significant                                                              
problem.  He emphasized  that the  quality  of the  teacher is  so                                                              
important,  even with distance  education. He  said he  expects to                                                              
engage in  frequent discussions on  this topic during  the state's                                                              
educational restructuring.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:23:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO asked  about  the progress  of the  Every                                                              
Student Succeeds  Act (ESSA). He  wondered if Alaska's  draft plan                                                              
was available.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:24:44 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  that  the state's  application to  the                                                              
federal  government is  being drafted  and is  on-going and  there                                                              
continues  to be  community meetings  on  the topic.  He hoped  to                                                              
have  a draft  this  spring  for the  public  to comment  on.  The                                                              
department  is   scheduled  to  submit  Alaska's   application  on                                                              
September  18. He  noted  other states  have  published drafts  to                                                              
view.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  commented   on  the  high  rate  of  teacher                                                              
turnover  in  rural Alaska  and  hoped  that particular  issue  is                                                              
looked  at. He stressed  the importance  of the  teacher.  He also                                                              
agreed with  Senator Stevens on  the need for civics  education in                                                              
schools.  He  quoted  the  "American's  Creed"  which  he  had  to                                                              
memorize in his elementary school classes.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:28:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES said  there will be committee hearings  on technology                                                              
in  rural areas  and teacher  retention  and an  ESSA update.  She                                                              
invited committee members to submit other topics of interest.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
She  agreed  that  civics  and  cultural  learning  would  benefit                                                              
students.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:30:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DRUMMOND voiced  appreciation for  everyone's comments  and                                                              
the department's  presentation.  She recalled  that last  year the                                                              
standardized  test was  cancelled  due to  technology issues.  She                                                              
cautioned that  Alaska is a very  complex place and needs  to have                                                              
a backup plan to technology.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES  suggested the  committees might  meet again  jointly                                                              
for further discussion.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:32:23 AM                                                                                                                    
There  being no further  business  to come before  the Senate  and                                                              
House  Education Committees,  Chair Drummond  adjourned the  joint                                                              
Senate  and House  Education Standing  Committee  meeting at  9:32                                                              
a.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
1-20-17 Joint HS Hearing FINAL.pdf SEDC 1/20/2017 8:00:00 AM
DEED FY2018 Governor's Budget with Statutes Regs.pdf SEDC 1/20/2017 8:00:00 AM