Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/07/2018 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:00:01 AM Start
08:00:20 AM SB185
09:20:51 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited and Public> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 7, 2018                                                                                          
                           8:00 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 185                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to reemployment of persons who retire under the                                                                
teachers' retirement system."                                                                                                   
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 185                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) MICCICHE                                                                                                 
02/16/18       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/16/18       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
02/26/18       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/26/18       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/26/18       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/07/18       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
KATHY LEA, Deputy Director/Chief Pension Officer                                                                                
Division of Retirement and Benefits                                                                                             
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 185.                                                                             
SENATOR MICCICHE                                                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 185.                                                                                        
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive Director                                                                                   
Alaska Council of School Administrators                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 185.                                                                             
DAN WAYNE, Attorney                                                                                                             
Legislative Legal Services                                                                                                      
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about SB 185.                                                                          
MARK MILLER, Ph.D., Superintendent                                                                                              
Juneau School District                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
JOSHUA GILL, Director of Personnel                                                                                              
Lower Kuskokwim School District                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
DR. MARY WEGNER, Ph.D., Superintendent                                                                                          
Sitka School District                                                                                                           
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
TAM AGOSTI-GISLER, President                                                                                                    
Anchorage School Board                                                                                                          
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
SCOTT MACMANUS, Superintendent                                                                                                  
Alaska Gateway School District                                                                                                  
Tok, Alaska                                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
JOHN SEDOR, Representing Self, Attorney                                                                                         
Special Projects Director                                                                                                       
Alaska Council of School Administrators                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
JACK WALSH, Superintendent                                                                                                      
Craig School District                                                                                                           
Craig, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
DAYNA DEFEO, Ph.D., Director                                                                                                    
Center for Alaska Education Policy Research                                                                                     
Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)                                                                                
University of Alaska Anchorage                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
ERIC GEBHART, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Nenana School District                                                                                                          
Nenana, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 185.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:00:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  called   the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 8:00  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Giessel, Coghill, Begich,  Hughes, and Chair                                                               
8:00:20 AM                                                                                                                    
        SB 185-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                     
CHAIR STEVENS announced the consideration  of SB 185. He said the                                                               
fiscal note will be available next week.                                                                                        
8:02:08 AM                                                                                                                    
KATHY  LEA, Deputy  Director/Chief Pension  Officer, Division  of                                                               
Retirement  and  Benefits,  Department of  Administration  (DOA),                                                               
answered questions on SB 185.                                                                                                   
8:02:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  asked about potential  abuse of the system  in the                                                               
past  with  the  retiree  rehire   provision.  He  asked  if  any                                                               
information is available about 49 percent contracts.                                                                            
8:02:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said the 49 percent  was not part of  the retiree rehire                                                               
plan. The  division does  not use  the term because  it is  not a                                                               
defined term. To  be in TRS [Teacher  Retirement System], someone                                                               
must work  at least 50 percent  of the normal work.  Districts do                                                               
hire at  49 percent, so  the person is  not eligible for  TRS. If                                                               
retirees are in an ineligible  position, it does not affect their                                                               
8:03:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS asked if that is just for TRS.                                                                                    
8:03:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said the  same concept exists  in PERS  [Public Employee                                                               
Retirement System] except  there are no contracts.  If someone is                                                               
hired in  a nonpermanent  position or  for less  than 15  hours a                                                               
week, that person is not eligible for PERS.                                                                                     
8:04:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  asked whether  districts can  hire at  49 percent                                                               
now, without the bill.                                                                                                          
8:04:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said many  districts do  hire teachers  at less  than 50                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH said  that is  the reason  for the  bill, that  a                                                               
district can hire someone full-time instead of part-time.                                                                       
8:05:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said her  understanding of  the bill  is that  a retired                                                               
teacher can be rehired into a full-time position.                                                                               
8:05:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said if gaming of  the system occurs now by hiring                                                               
someone at 49 percent, the bill counteracts some of the gaming.                                                                 
8:05:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEA  said she  is  not  comfortable characterizing  that  as                                                               
gaming.  Districts have  had legitimate  needs [to  hire at  less                                                               
than 50 percent].                                                                                                               
8:05:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  asked whether a  district contributes to  TRS and                                                               
provides a  health care plan for  someone hired for less  than 50                                                               
8:06:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA said a person ineligible  for TRS is not reported to them                                                               
because  no  TRS  contributions  are  made  by  the  employee  or                                                               
employer.  She  cannot speak  to  the  health insurance  question                                                               
because   no  information   is   reported  to   them  for   those                                                               
8:07:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES asked  whether it  will  be a  disincentive if  a                                                               
district hires someone  for more than 49 percent and  then has to                                                               
make a 12.56 percent contribution TRS.                                                                                          
8:07:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said it is  an added cost.  She cannot speak  to whether                                                               
that is a disincentive for a district.                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGHES  said she  wants to know  if retired  teachers are                                                               
getting  active health  care if  hired  for less  than full  time                                                               
because it  is quite a difference  in cost to make  the 12.56 TRS                                                               
contribution and to pay the health care premium.                                                                                
8:08:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS said  a retired  teacher has  health benefits  and                                                               
does not need  health benefits if returning to work.  He asked if                                                               
districts can offer more health insurance.                                                                                      
8:09:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA said she is not  aware of what health insurance districts                                                               
provide  at  different  levels,   but  retirees  do  have  health                                                               
insurance. An  Affordable Care Act provision  prohibits employees                                                               
from participating in  the retiree health plan. That  is why they                                                               
requested a provision in this  bill that requires the employer to                                                               
offer health insurance.                                                                                                         
8:09:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL said  she is confused by section  four. Last time                                                               
she thought Ms. Lea said an  employee cannot receive a salary and                                                               
receive retirement  benefits, but section  4, line 12,  says they                                                               
can. They are getting health benefits and the pension.                                                                          
8:10:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA said under  current law if retirees go back  to work in a                                                               
full-time  or part-time  permanent position,  their benefits  are                                                               
stopped while  they are working.  While working,  they contribute                                                               
to the retirement  system and earn an  additional pension amount.                                                               
That section  of the  bill is  the new  language that  will allow                                                               
them  to  come  back  into   employment  without  stopping  their                                                               
retirement  benefits.   They  will  continue  to   receive  their                                                               
retirement  benefits,   but  they   do  not  contribute   to  the                                                               
retirement  system  and  will   not  earn  additional  retirement                                                               
8:11:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL said  section  4  (g), line  18,  states that  a                                                               
member  who is  retired  and reemployed  is  eligible to  receive                                                               
group health  plan coverage provided  to active  members employed                                                               
by  that  school district.  They  continue  to get  their  health                                                               
benefits even after they are rehired.                                                                                           
8:12:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said they  will still  receive retiree  health benefits,                                                               
but to  comply with  the Affordable Care  Act, the  employer must                                                               
provide  active health  insurance.  There is  a requirement  that                                                               
they cannot have an active  employee participating in the retiree                                                               
health  care plan.  An employer  can allow  an employee  to waive                                                               
coverage,  but the  requirement  is that  active health  coverage                                                               
must  be offered.  If the  retiree chooses  or must  elect active                                                               
insurance, the retiree insurance will be secondary.                                                                             
8:13:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE, Alaska  State Legislature,  sponsor of  SB 185                                                               
said  there is  a  reason  why unions  support  the  bill. It  is                                                               
because there are no savings to  districts. The desire is to hire                                                               
full-time, new teachers ready to work  of years to come. The bill                                                               
does not  cost districts  additional money;  costs are  the same.                                                               
They must cover  the 12.56 [for the  unfunded pension liability],                                                               
and they have  to offer active member group  health coverage. The                                                               
rehired retiree  cannot receive additional credited  service. The                                                               
only reason  for the bill is  when districts cannot fill  a slot,                                                               
they can hire an experienced teacher.                                                                                           
8:15:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  asked  whether   a  sunset  provision  should  be                                                               
8:16:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said Alaska  continuously has  problems filling                                                               
positions  in  remote  areas. Adding  a  sunset  provision  means                                                               
another  bill  in  the  future.  The bill  is  supported  by  NEA                                                               
[National Education  Association] and all the  districts. If they                                                               
had another  choice they would  not bring back  retired teachers.                                                               
They don't know  how long the retired teacher  will be interested                                                               
in continuing to  teach. They are not as reliable  as bringing in                                                               
a new employee to begin a  career. He does not foresee unintended                                                               
consequences  with  the bill;  they  can  change  the law  if  it                                                               
becomes problematic.                                                                                                            
8:17:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS asked Ms. Lea to reflect on a sunset provision.                                                                   
8:18:14 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEA said  sunset provisions  were in  the two  prior retiree                                                               
rehire bills with  requirements that the division  give an annual                                                               
report to  the legislature  on how many  TRS members  were hired,                                                               
what type of  positions were hired, and which  districts used the                                                               
8:19:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS said  he would  like feedback  from the  committee                                                               
about a sunset provision.                                                                                                       
8:19:36 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL said the report  on the past rehire program shows                                                               
a variety  of people  participated in the  rehire program:  73 in                                                               
miscellaneous,   11  site   administrators,  a   psychologist,  a                                                               
librarian, a  director. These  are not  teachers. It  changes her                                                               
view of  what the  word "member"  means in the  bill. It  is much                                                               
broader than classroom teacher.                                                                                                 
8:20:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if  many of  these people  would be  in PERS                                                               
[Public Employees Retirement System].                                                                                           
8:20:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEA  said members  in TRS  must have  a certificate  from the                                                               
Department of Education and Early  Development (DEED) in order to                                                               
perform duties  of their jobs.  There are job classes  outside of                                                               
classroom teacher that meet that  definition. Some librarians are                                                               
required  to  be certificated  because  they  are also  teaching.                                                               
School nurses  sometimes must be certificated  because they teach                                                               
health classes. Superintendents must  have certificates. They are                                                               
covered under the bill because they are all TRS members.                                                                        
8:21:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  there were  325 diversified  positions in                                                               
the  10-year period  [of the  last retiree  rehire program].  The                                                               
largest  employer was  the Lower  Kuskokwim  School District.  It                                                               
demonstrates the program is only used  in a clutch. An average of                                                               
32 teachers a year statewide used the program.                                                                                  
8:22:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  said they  have heard  the situation  has gotten                                                               
worse in  the last eight years  (the report goes to  2010). Since                                                               
she is aware  of the workers' compensation costs  borne by school                                                               
districts, which  takes away money from  classrooms, she wondered                                                               
what kind of work comp cases resulted from hiring older people.                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS  said classrooms are generally  a safe environment,                                                               
but anything can happen.                                                                                                        
8:23:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEA said  that  is  a question  best  put  to Scott  Jordan,                                                               
Director of Risk Management, Department of Administration.                                                                      
8:24:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES said  they  have heard  of  the national  teacher                                                               
shortage. They  get the need as  far as teachers but  around half                                                               
of  the  rehired  were  not  teachers. She  asked  if  there  are                                                               
verified  shortages for  these other  categories  and should  the                                                               
bill be  designed so broadly.  She wondered whether  other public                                                               
employees would want the same opportunity.                                                                                      
8:25:58 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive  Director, Alaska Council of                                                               
School  Administrators, answered  questions on  SB 185.  She said                                                               
the bill is  designed for all TRS educators because  Alaska is in                                                               
such a  crisis across the  board. In  Alaska, over the  last four                                                               
years, superintendents have  had a 59 percent  turnover rate. She                                                               
is looking  at another  ten this year.  Alaskan is  struggling to                                                               
fill   superintendent   positions.   School  boards   have   such                                                               
diminished pools  to select  from that  they are  using long-term                                                               
teachers to fill  in as superintendents. The bill  was written to                                                               
address shortages  in Alaska TRS  populations. Principals  have a                                                               
26 percent  turnover rate. The  teacher turnover rate  is getting                                                               
worse every  year. The statewide  average is 22 percent,  but the                                                               
rate  grows from  the  urban  areas to  rural  areas to  isolated                                                               
remote areas, where the retention rate is in the 50s.                                                                           
8:29:33 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PARADY  said  research from  [Richard]  Ingersoll  with  the                                                               
University  of Pennsylvania  shows  the country  has 3.3  million                                                               
teachers.  In   2015,  531,000  teachers  left   the  profession,                                                               
primarily  because  of  working   conditions.  To  replace  them,                                                               
343,000 teachers were prepared to  replace them. Nationally a gap                                                               
exists  between educators  leaving  and educators  coming in,  an                                                               
ongoing deficit. Alaska  relies on recruiting from  the lower 48.                                                               
Alaska is  in the worst  situation in  the history of  the state.                                                               
The  bill was  designed to  fill TRS  positions: superintendents,                                                               
principals, primarily  teachers. The  summary data from  the last                                                               
retiree rehire  program shows this  is not a mad  rush. Districts                                                               
want  long-term  stable  teachers,  principals,  superintendents.                                                               
Achievement is  better when this  happens. When  districts cannot                                                               
fill  vacancies,  they  prefer  to fill  vacancies  with  retired                                                               
people  vs.  what they  are  forced  to  do now,  patch  together                                                               
something with  subs or  paraprofessionals who  may not  have the                                                               
content knowledge.                                                                                                              
8:31:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked, as the  title suggests, whether the bill is                                                               
simply TRS positions only, not PERS.                                                                                            
8:32:26 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. PARADY said  yes. It also does not deal  with positions of 49                                                               
percent or less. This is about full-time, retired TRS employees.                                                                
8:32:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS asked whether the  10 days districts must advertise                                                               
to fill a position is enough time to fill a vacancy.                                                                            
8:33:21 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. PARADY said  most districts advertise much  longer to attract                                                               
certified employees.  The reason for  the bill is  that districts                                                               
are advertising almost throughout the  year in some cases and not                                                               
finding employees  they need. Ten  days are the minimum.  She has                                                               
every confidence that  districts are doing that and  more and are                                                               
not able to attract certified employees to the position.                                                                        
8:34:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said these are  great questions to  clarify the                                                               
intent of  the bill for the  public. He said he  has two children                                                               
in  public  schools.  An incredible  teacher  went  on  maternity                                                               
leave. Her position was filed  with a patchwork of teachers. This                                                               
creates  instability  for  kids. Sometimes  a  temporary  teacher                                                               
doesn't have  experience. He  told of  being superintendent  of a                                                               
plant  that reopened  after  being shut  down  for couple  years.                                                               
Suddenly they needed  experienced employees to start  a plant up.                                                               
They brought  in people from across  the state who had  worked at                                                               
the  plant in  the last  40 years.  They temporarily  collected a                                                               
level of expertise until they filled those positions.                                                                           
8:36:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  asked Mr. Wayne  with Legislative Legal  if sunset                                                               
provisions and  reporting requirements were standard  in bills of                                                               
this nature.                                                                                                                    
8:36:54 AM                                                                                                                    
DAN  WAYNE,  Attorney,  Legislative Legal  Services,  Legislative                                                               
Affairs  Agency,  Alaska  State Legislature,  answered  questions                                                               
about SB 185. He said it is purely up to the legislature.                                                                       
CHAIR STEVENS asked  whether that would be easy to  draft if they                                                               
want to pursue it.                                                                                                              
MR. WAYNE said yes.                                                                                                             
8:37:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  asked  if anything  prevents  multiple  12-month                                                               
8:38:05 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  nothing prohibits  that, but  the 10-year                                                               
data show 18.7  months was the average time  for reemployment. It                                                               
truly is  a temporary situation.  The longest in that  period was                                                               
46 months, which is four contracts.                                                                                             
SENATOR  HUGHES asked  if the  advertisement  requirement is  for                                                               
each contract or just initially.                                                                                                
DR. PARADY said the advertisement  requirement is for each time a                                                               
contract is issued.                                                                                                             
8:39:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  as someone  who wants  less red  tape, he                                                               
questions the value  of reporting. The bill  has an indeterminate                                                               
fiscal  note,  but  once  the  actuarial data  comes  in,  it  is                                                               
probably a zero  fiscal note. He asked if reporting  is worthy of                                                               
the cost.                                                                                                                       
8:39:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK  MILLER,  Ph.D.,  Superintendent,  Juneau  School  District,                                                               
supported SB  185. He  supports the bill  because it  deepens the                                                               
talent pool.  He shared his  frustration of learning about  a $20                                                               
product that helps save students  from committing suicide, but he                                                               
lacks the funds  to buy it for  the district. He said  he spent 5                                                               
hours in  a budget meeting  trying to cut  $3 million and  in end                                                               
they  added $60,000  for school  nurses. The  board decided  that                                                               
even in these tough times,  schools need nurses to supervise kids                                                               
with  type  1  diabetes.  They   cannot  find  school  nurses  or                                                               
psychologists. Then the only option is  to call Oregon and sign a                                                               
contract  with a  private firm,  who takes  a cut  when it  sends                                                               
nurses  or psychologists.  Not  a  dime of  that  money stays  in                                                               
Alaska.  They are  doing  the  absolute best  they  can with  the                                                               
dollars they have. In Juneau the  need is not with most classroom                                                               
positions, but  some special education positions  go unfilled all                                                               
year. This doesn't  solve the problem, but it helps  a little. It                                                               
doesn't save them  money, but it doesn't cost  them money either.                                                               
It allows them  to get a better  product to kids who  need it the                                                               
8:43:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  whether adding  a reporting  requirement to                                                               
learn  from  districts how  they  are  using the  retiree  rehire                                                               
program the bill would be that onerous.                                                                                         
8:43:56 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. MILLER said that for Juneau  the numbers would be about three                                                               
to five  employees. He did not  think that it would  that much to                                                               
8:44:29 AM                                                                                                                    
JOSHUA  GILL,  Director  of  Personnel,  Lower  Kuskokwim  School                                                               
District, supported  SB 185. He  said the Lower  Kuskokwim School                                                               
District is  one of the  largest rural school districts  in size,                                                               
roughly the size of West Virginia,  and has 27 schools spread out                                                               
across  that area  that  are completely  remote.  They know  that                                                               
Alaska has an  acute shortfall of quality  educators, teachers in                                                               
particular.  Lower Kuskokwim  had  eight positions  it could  not                                                               
fill  at the  start  of  the school  year.  The  impact of  eight                                                               
teachers affects over 100 kids.  The district is doing everything                                                               
it can  to provide quality education  to kids. Not being  able to                                                               
put teachers  in classrooms is  difficult. They have sat  next to                                                               
school  districts  in job  fairs  in  Texas, where  the  starting                                                               
salary is $10,000 more than what  they offer, and they are asking                                                               
teachers to live in remote areas  away from their families. Of 60                                                               
teachers hired  last year, one-third  were retired  teachers from                                                               
other states,  but he cannot  hire retired teachers  from Alaska.                                                               
They are the ones who know  their kids the best. When they cannot                                                               
fill vacancies, SB 185 is the  tool that would help them keep the                                                               
best instructors in front of kids.  That is the end goal, keeping                                                               
quality educators.  Students will  benefit from  Alaskan teachers                                                               
who  will provide  quality instruction  for their  children. They                                                               
deserve that.                                                                                                                   
8:47:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  if he  knew of  retired teachers  who could                                                               
have filled the eight vacant positions.                                                                                         
8:48:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. GILL said  he assumed there were, but he  didn't look because                                                               
that  avenue  was  not  open  to him.  Lower  Kuskokwim  has  400                                                               
certified  teachers  and  principals,  and  twelve  teachers  are                                                               
retiring this year.  If that is the common average,  they are out                                                               
there. Now  that the question has  been asked, he can  think of a                                                               
couple he could have called.                                                                                                    
8:48:52 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. MARY  WEGNER, Ph.D.,  Superintendent, Sitka  School District,                                                               
supported  SB  185.  She  said   Alaska  has  153  open  teaching                                                               
positions right now. Alaska  desperately needs qualified teachers                                                               
to  fill vacancies.  They can  hire retired  teachers from  other                                                               
states.  They used  to  be  able to  hire  retired teachers  from                                                               
Alaska. They  want that  opportunity back.  Sitka has  just under                                                               
120 teachers.  The statewide vacancies  are more than  the entire                                                               
district staff of  Sitka. Picture a year of kids  going to school                                                               
and no  one is there or  someone who is not  qualified. Providing                                                               
an  excellent  education  to every  student  every  day  requires                                                               
experienced   teachers,   a    culturally   responsive   learning                                                               
environment, and targeted instruction.  All this helps to achieve                                                               
the  three  commitments  of   the  Alaska  Education  Challenge--                                                               
increase  student  success,  support responsible  and  reflective                                                               
learners, and  cultivate safety and  well-being. By  shutting out                                                               
retired teachers, they are wasting a valuable resource.                                                                         
8:51:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if  she has hired  teachers from  outside of                                                               
8:51:43 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  WEGNER said  Sitka  is  in a  good  location for  attracting                                                               
teachers.  She  is testifying  because  Sitka  has a  12  percent                                                               
budget deficit.  She has talented  teachers who grew up  in Sitka                                                               
and returned  to Sitka to  teach. On  Tuesday she had  to present                                                               
eliminating seven teaching position to  the board. She asked what                                                               
happens  next year  when she  doesn't have  those local  talented                                                               
teachers committed to their community.  She needs the flexibility                                                               
because she is concerned about the future.                                                                                      
8:52:42 AM                                                                                                                    
TAM AGOSTI-GISLER,  President, Anchorage School  Board, Anchorage                                                               
School District, supported SB 185. She  said SB 185 will give the                                                               
Anchorage  School District  flexibility with  positions that  are                                                               
difficult to  fill. It allows  the district to expand  49 percent                                                               
positions  to  full time,  only  as  needed.  This is  a  stopgap                                                               
measure  to  have  qualified teachers  in  every  classroom.  She                                                               
pointed  out   that  retired  teachers  still   must  keep  their                                                               
certificates  valid.  The  lifetime   certificate  is  valid  for                                                               
positions of not  more than 20 days in length.  This is a win/win                                                               
for the state and district.  The district would contribute to the                                                               
unfunded  pension  liability,  but  members do  not  receive  the                                                               
benefit for working full time.                                                                                                  
8:55:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  her to  reflect  on the  fact that  retired                                                               
teachers from out  of state can be hired but  not retired Alaskan                                                               
8:55:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. AGOSTI-GISLER  said the district  is trying to  find teachers                                                               
who  are going  to stay  long term.  It is  difficult to  attract                                                               
teachers to Alaska when the  compensation and benefits are not as                                                               
attractive as other states. In 80s  the package was very good for                                                               
teachers.  When she  asks  friends in  other  states to  consider                                                               
teaching in  Alaska, they  say the salaries  are lower  in Alaska                                                               
and they have a much better retirement plan.                                                                                    
8:56:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS said he would  like information about the Anchorage                                                               
School District hiring retired teachers from Outside.                                                                           
8:58:05 AM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT MACMANUS,  Superintendent, Alaska Gateway  School District,                                                               
supported  SB  185.  He  said  there is  a  shortage  of  quality                                                               
teachers in the  country and in Alaska. Alaska  Gateway is small,                                                               
with 40 teachers in  an area the size of West  Virginia. It has a                                                               
relatively low turnover  rate. Last year they had  to replace six                                                               
teachers. Three they hired a  few weeks before school started, so                                                               
they did start with a full contingent.  He took a team of five to                                                               
Anchorage last year and offered  two contracts, but they all took                                                               
jobs in other districts. He did  not find a single teacher at the                                                               
Portland  job fair  willing to  come to  a remote  location, even                                                               
though by Alaska  standards it is not that  remote because Alaska                                                               
Gateway is on the road  system. Alaska Teacher Placement is doing                                                               
a good  job, but it  is an uphill  battle when teachers  can work                                                               
elsewhere  for better  pay and  retirement with  a lower  cost of                                                               
living.  It is  a hard  sell to  get someone  to live  in Alaska.                                                               
Alaska Gateway was  fortunate to get two principals  and the last                                                               
teacher in  the final  weeks before  school started.  One teacher                                                               
drove from  Cincinnati, spent one  day in Northway last  year and                                                               
then  returned  to  Cincinnati.  It   took  a  month  to  find  a                                                               
replacement  teacher.  They do  have  retired  teachers who  have                                                               
stayed  in their  districts but  who  do not  want to  jeopardize                                                               
their retirement.  These are  teachers who  are committed  to the                                                               
state, know  their kids and  know how they  do things. SB  185 is                                                               
another  tool  to  support  the   mission  of  providing  quality                                                               
education to kids.                                                                                                              
9:02:46 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  SEDOR,   Representing  Self,  Attorney,   Special  Projects                                                               
Director, Alaska  Council of School Administrators,  supported SB
185. He has represented school  districts for almost 30 years and                                                               
has traveled  extensively in Alaska.  He has seen  first-hand the                                                               
struggles of districts trying to  recruit and retain teachers. SB
185 doesn't  solve all problems, but  it is a tool.  He addressed                                                               
the  question of  whether  this would  be  used appropriately  by                                                               
school  districts and  retirees. He  noted that  the Division  of                                                               
Retirement and  Benefits put  in place  the bona  fide separation                                                               
regulations, which are also in section  1 of the bill. The system                                                               
would  be protected  because retirees  cannot prearrange  to come                                                               
back to  work for school  districts. Retirees can work  less than                                                               
half time,  but for many  districts, the economics don't  work to                                                               
have  a teacher  work for  less than  half time.  The bill  gives                                                               
retirees the  opportunity to work full-time  for school districts                                                               
and not jeopardize their pensions.                                                                                              
9:05:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  for  his thoughts  on  adding a  reporting                                                               
requirement to SB 185.                                                                                                          
9:06:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SEDOR said  every requirement to track costs  money and time.                                                               
In rural districts  they wear an incredible number  of hats. They                                                               
already  have obligations  that far  exceed the  time in  the day                                                               
that they  have to devote to  them. He asked what  is the balance                                                               
between the cost and the benefit.                                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH asked him to  reflect from a lawyer perspective on                                                               
how long he  thought the crisis with the  educator shortage would                                                               
9:07:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SEDOR said  it will  be  around a  long time.  He noted  the                                                               
numbers that  Dr. Parady  had referred to.  The state  has fiscal                                                               
challenges,  which   exacerbate  the  differential   between  the                                                               
available  number  of teachers  in  the  state and  the  national                                                               
number. The struggles did not go  away in 2010 when the last bill                                                               
sunset. Districts struggle  more and more to  fill positions when                                                               
the state has this resource of retired teachers.                                                                                
9:09:14 AM                                                                                                                    
JACK WALSH,  Superintendent, Craig School District,  supported SB
185. He  said filling positions has  been a challenge for  a long                                                               
time.  Craig has  someone working  with an  emergency certificate                                                               
because they could not find  a special ed teacher. The University                                                               
of  Alaska has  an aggressive  plan to  fill teaching  positions.                                                               
They are working  with them to make that happen,  but the problem                                                               
is not going  to end soon. This  is a well thought  out plan that                                                               
can help everyone and help  ensure that Alaskan students have the                                                               
best opportunities possible for their education programs.                                                                       
DAYNA DEFEO, Ph.D., Director, Center  for Alaska Education Policy                                                               
Research,  Institute  of  Social and  Economic  Research  (ISER),                                                               
University of  Alaska, supported SB  185. She said  her expertise                                                               
includes  teacher  supply  and  demand.  The  nationwide  teacher                                                               
shortage  is a  perfect storm  in Alaska  because of  low teacher                                                               
production. Every  year Alaska graduates  about 200  teachers but                                                               
hires nearly four times that much  from out of state. The teacher                                                               
supply is shrinking  in the lower 48 and the  economy is booming.                                                               
Other  states  have  more attractive  benefits  packages.  Alaska                                                               
teacher salaries  are not as  high as  they used to  be. Teachers                                                               
working here already  can look to the lower 48  and find enticing                                                               
teacher  offers. It  is harder  to attract  new teachers  here in                                                               
Alaska.  This disproportionately  affects  rural schools  because                                                               
they rely more heavily on  out of state hires. The administrative                                                               
cost  of teacher  turnover is  more than  $20,000. This  does not                                                               
include the cost of teacher  preparation or the impact on student                                                               
learning. They  have consistently documented that  higher teacher                                                               
turnover means  lower student performance.  In Alaska the  gap in                                                               
teacher  quality between  low  income and  middle  income is  the                                                               
third  highest  in the  nation.  The  state's economic  situation                                                               
means more teacher  turn over. It will  be increasingly difficult                                                               
to  hire qualified  educators. This  leaves rural  and low-income                                                               
schools in a bind. Districts  do wonderful and creative things to                                                               
fill vacancies,  but when the  size and quality of  the applicant                                                               
pool  is diminishing,  especially  for the  hardest positions  to                                                               
fill--special education, secondary  math and science--the overall                                                               
quality  of education  in  the state  goes  down. Increasing  the                                                               
state's pool of  highly qualified teachers and  getting them into                                                               
our schools,  especially rural and  low-income schools,  needs to                                                               
be a priority.                                                                                                                  
9:16:57 AM                                                                                                                    
ACTING  CHAIR  COGHILL said  the  sunset  provisions in  previous                                                               
retiree  rehire  bills  required  reporting.  He  asked  if  that                                                               
reporting has been of any value to her as a researcher.                                                                         
9:17:27 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  DEFEO said  she has  not  used it,  but she  will ask  other                                                               
researchers at ISER.                                                                                                            
9:17:52 AM                                                                                                                    
ACTING CHAIR COGHILL said that would be appreciated.                                                                            
ERIC GEBHART,  Superintendent, Nenana School  District, supported                                                               
SB 185.  He said Nenana is  a small rural school  district on the                                                               
road system,  55 miles  south of Fairbanks.  His district  has no                                                               
significant teacher  turnover, but in  the past, they  would have                                                               
15 to  20 applicants for teacher  openings. Ten years ago  it was                                                               
25 or  more. Nenana has  advertised two  weeks for a  high school                                                               
math teacher and has five  applicants. That is very concerning to                                                               
him. Anything to  increase the pool raises  the potential quality                                                               
of teachers.  The bottom line is  finding the best person  at the                                                               
time to put in front of kids to give them what they need.                                                                       
9:20:51 AM                                                                                                                    
ACTING CHAIR COGHILL held SB 185 in committee.                                                                                  
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Acting  Chair Coghill  adjourned  the  Senate Education  Standing                                                               
Committee at 9:20.                                                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
010_2006 Legislative Report complete.pdf SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185 - Retire/Rehire
011_2007 Legislative Report complete.pdf SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185 - Retire/Rehire
012_2008 Legislative Report complete.pdf SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185 - Retire/Rehire
013_2009 Legislative Report complete.pdf SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185 - Retire/Rehire
014_SB185_Retire-Rehire_Summary_Historical Stats.pdf SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185
015_SB185 Letter of Support - NEA.PDF SEDC 3/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
SB 185