Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/07/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
09:03:49 AM Start
09:04:14 AM Presentation: the Recent Major Earthquake and Related Damage to School Facilities in the Anchorage and Mat-su Areas
10:38:59 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: TELECONFERENCED
"The Recent Major Earthquake & Related Damage to
School Facilities in the Anchorage & Mat-Su
Areas" by Dr. Michael West, State Seismologist &
Director, Alaska Earthquake Center, UA;
Tim Edwards, Chief Risk Officer, UA; Luke Fulp,
Asst. Superintendent of Business & Operation,
Mat-Su School District; Mike Brown, Executive
Director of Operations, Mat-Su School District &
Dr. Deena Bishop, Superintendent, Anchorage
School District
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
-- Teleconference Listen Only --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 7, 2019                                                                                        
                           9:03 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Chris Birch                                                                                                             
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: THE RECENT MAJOR EARTHQUAKE AND RELATED DAMAGE TO                                                                 
SCHOOL FACILITIES IN THE ANCHORAGE AND MAT-SU AREAS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL WEST, Ph.D., State Seismologist                                                                                         
Research Professor                                                                                                              
University of Alaska Fairbanks                                                                                                  
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented on the Alaska Earthquake Center.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TIM LAMKIN, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Showed video of the earthquake at the                                                                     
University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) campus.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM EDWARDS, Chief Risk Officer                                                                                                 
University of Alaska                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on the  impact of earthquake on the                                                             
University of Alaska Anchorage campus.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TIM MEARIG, Facilities Manager                                                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:   Testified    on   DEED   role   regarding                                                             
earthquakes.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE BROWN, Executive Director of Operations                                                                                    
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District                                                                                       
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on the  impact of the earthquake on                                                             
the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DEENA BISHOP, Ph.D., Superintendent                                                                                             
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on the  impact of earthquake on the                                                             
Anchorage School District.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:03:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  called   the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:03  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were Senators Begich, Birch, and Chair Stevens.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
^Presentation: The Recent Major  Earthquake and Related Damage to                                                               
School Facilities in the Anchorage and Mat-Su Areas                                                                             
Presentation: The Recent Major Earthquake and Related Damage to                                                             
      School Facilities in the Anchorage and Mat-Su Areas                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:04:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS announced  presentations  about  the November  30,                                                               
2018,  earthquake and  the  resultant damage  to  schools in  the                                                               
Anchorage and Mat-Su areas.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:04:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  WEST,  Ph.D.,  State Seismologist,  Research  Professor,                                                               
University of Alaska Fairbanks,  Fairbanks, Alaska, described the                                                               
work   of  the   Alaska  Earthquake   Center.  Rapid   assessment                                                               
information about  earthquakes comes  from the  Alaska Earthquake                                                               
Center. If an earthquake happens,  the most basic of information-                                                               
- where it was, how big it  was, what the extent of shaking was--                                                               
comes from the Alaska Earthquake  Center. In coastal communities,                                                               
tsunami hazards  are premised on  an understanding of  what areas                                                               
of a  community are in  the potential  flood zone and  which ones                                                               
are not.  Over the  past few decades,  the Earthquake  Center has                                                               
mapped this community by community.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST  pointed out the  center's research and analysis  of why                                                               
earthquakes happen  in Alaska and  what to expect in  the future.                                                               
In 2018,  Alaska had  55,000 earthquakes.  The vast  majority are                                                               
very small  and not surprising,  geologically speaking,  but some                                                               
stand out.  When the unexpected happens,  their responsibility is                                                               
to figure  why and what they  can expect from those  areas in the                                                               
future.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said the application of  their data is used in a variety                                                               
of  ways.  All  building  codes  have  an  adherence  to  seismic                                                               
standards  based   on  an  area's  history   of  earthquakes  and                                                               
anticipation  about   what  might  happen  in   the  future.  Any                                                               
environmental  reviews  for  large   development  plans  have  an                                                               
extensive consideration  of how to  build safely for  the seismic                                                               
hazards. Consideration  of the likelihood  of different  types of                                                               
earthquakes in  different places are built  into insurance rates.                                                               
Evacuation routes  and shelters  for tsunami  hazards incorporate                                                               
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS   asked  whether  most  people   are  covered  for                                                               
earthquakes and tsunamis.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST answered that one  topic is earthquake insurance and the                                                               
other is just someone's core,  homeowner's insurance rates. Those                                                               
are  proprietary  formulas,  but  he   is  sure  they  factor  in                                                               
earthquake  potential in  calculating  overall rates.  Earthquake                                                               
insurance is an add on, which some people have and some don't.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  noted that his  communities, Kodiak and  Homer and                                                               
that  area,  are southern  coast.  He  doesn't  know if  his  own                                                               
insurance  covers tsunamis,  but they  would do  well to  look at                                                               
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST  responded that he  agreed, but he  is not an  expert on                                                               
insurance.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  shared that  he looked  at the  Alaska Earthquake                                                               
Center site  often and  that he  noticed significant  activity in                                                               
Kaktovik. It  concerns him  because their  wealth comes  from the                                                               
North Slope. He asked what is going on in Kaktovik.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST  replied that on  August 12, there were  two significant                                                               
earthquakes,  a  6.4  and a  6.0,  with  prodigious  aftershocks.                                                               
Almost  all   the  activity  up   there  can  be   attributed  to                                                               
aftershocks.  The bigger  question is  why they  occurred in  the                                                               
first place. They are still  wrapping their heads around that. It                                                               
is not  a surprise  to have  earthquakes in  that area,  but they                                                               
were  the most  significant  earthquakes on  the  North Slope  in                                                               
recorded history.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:11:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  said that he  was concerned about the  oil fields                                                               
and  that perhaps  they should  delve into  potential precautions                                                               
later.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST responded  that the  producers and  oil companies  that                                                               
work in  that area  are aware  of seismic  hazards and  have been                                                               
forward  about planning  and  taking  precautions and  monitoring                                                               
their facilities.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST  said his intent  is to  show that information  from the                                                               
Earthquake Center is used, such as  for the building of ports and                                                               
major  development projects.  Every school  in the  state has  at                                                               
some  points in  its  construction attempted  to  factor in  that                                                               
information. The  legislature, with  AS 14.40.075, gave  the role                                                               
of  earthquake   monitoring  to   the  university.   The  statute                                                               
designates the  role of  state seismologist, the  role he  is in.                                                               
Although he is an employee  of the university and the Geophysical                                                               
Institute, he answers to the legislature.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  said   the  center  operates  a   network  of  seismic                                                               
monitoring instruments  across the state. They  record vibrations                                                               
and are streamed back to Fairbanks  in real time. Each site has a                                                               
self-contained power  system, a sensor  in the ground,  and radio                                                               
communication  to let  data be  aggregated  in real  time at  the                                                               
center.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  said  the  center  takes  the  pulse  of  Alaska.  Any                                                               
vibration  in the  ground,  a  landslide, explosion,  earthquake,                                                               
registers somewhere on one of the monitors.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said he noted several sites in Canada.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST   answered  that  they   do  have  a  lot   of  partner                                                               
organizations.  They  work  closely with  Canadians.  Earthquakes                                                               
don't obey political boundaries.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said he wanted to  give examples of the ways people work                                                               
with their  data to  answer meaningful questions.  One way  is to                                                               
assess  where  shaking  was  strong  and where  it  was  not.  He                                                               
displayed  a slide  of earthquake  data along  the pipeline  that                                                               
very quickly helped  engineers assess where to  pay attention and                                                               
where  not  to  worry--support  tools  for  people  making  rapid                                                               
decisions after an earthquake.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  said they  have  had  a  lot  of questions  about  the                                                               
November  30  earthquake. One  has  been  was this  a  worst-case                                                               
scenario.  People only  need  to look  back to  1964  to see  the                                                               
answer is no.  But the next earthquake will  look very different.                                                               
It will shake differently. The patterns will be different.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:16:08 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  WEST  said  Southeast  Alaska  is more  than  capable  of  a                                                               
magnitude  7 earthquake,  but it  is likely  to be  some distance                                                               
from  Juneau.  Fairbanks has  a  history  of  magnitude 6  and  7                                                               
earthquakes but not as frequently as Southcentral Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said the forecast about  when aftershocks will end is by                                                               
the  end  of  2019.  At  that  point  it  will  be  difficult  to                                                               
distinguish   an  aftershock   from  normal   background  seismic                                                               
activity.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST said  one  question  has been  where  was shaking  most                                                               
violent. It  was about the same  in the Mat-Su, Eagle  River, and                                                               
Anchorage areas.  There was disproportionate damage  in the Eagle                                                               
River,  but  it probably  did  not  experience shaking  that  was                                                               
stronger than elsewhere.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said  four of the five earthquakes in  the U.S. occur in                                                               
Alaska.  Their  fundamental  challenge is  limited  observations.                                                               
They don't have  the same resources tools available  in the lower                                                               
48.  Alaska has  three seismic  sensors in  an area  the size  of                                                               
California.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  said  they  would have  more  capabilities  with  more                                                               
sensors. He made an analogy  of an astronomer doing research with                                                               
a pair of binoculars as opposed to the Hubble telescope.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said Washington, Oregon,  and California are rolling out                                                               
on  an operational  basis earthquake  early  warning. People  can                                                               
have 5,  10, 15, 60 seconds  warning before the shaking  hits. It                                                               
is  now a  reality  in parts  of  this country.  It  is not  even                                                               
considered in  Alaska because Alaska doesn't  have the foundation                                                               
to build that system.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  revealed that  the  monitoring  network in  Alaska  is                                                               
presently stronger  than before. Alaska has  its Hubble telescope                                                               
because of a  massive rollout in the last three  years of seismic                                                               
instrumentation  through a  National  Science Foundation  project                                                               
that  is going  away  in  2020. They  are  mounting an  extensive                                                               
campaign   with   federal    agencies,   Alaska's   Congressional                                                               
delegation, and  a state  capital project  to retain  portions of                                                               
this.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH asked why the project is going away.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST  answered that it  is a research project.  The objective                                                               
was not year-to-year,  decades of monitoring, which  is the focus                                                               
of the Alaska Earthquake Center.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS asked about the seismic stations in the state.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  replied  that  they  are very  similar  to  what  they                                                               
operate.  They could  not have  tracked the  Kaktovik earthquakes                                                               
without this project.  The closest stations to  Kaktovik are part                                                               
of the project going away in 2020.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH asked  if the cost of the  capital budget entailed                                                               
taking  over the  seismic stations  before they  are removed.  He                                                               
asked  how fast  that would  have  to happen  before the  Science                                                               
Foundation removes its science project.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST responded  that the  goal  is to  assume ownership  and                                                               
integrate  about half  of the  facility into  the existing  state                                                               
network.  They are  pursuing $48  million at  the federal  level,                                                               
which  would   operate  the  system   for  a  decade.   He  would                                                               
characterize  what they  are seeking  in state  capital funds  as                                                               
kick starter funds.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  said that is a  small investment to keep  oil and                                                               
gas partners whole.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:25:05 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  he  has   seen  a  lot  of  remote  sensing                                                               
capabilities  and the  technology  is improving.  He asked  would                                                               
they get the granularity they needed with satellites.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST answered  yes. There  are  many different  technologies                                                               
today  to  form  their   earthquake  monitoring  capability.  GPS                                                               
sensors  are remarkably  capable.  People would  be surprised  at                                                               
what  information  cell  phones   and  their  accelerometers  can                                                               
provide  in certain  locations. Satellite  images have  excellent                                                               
granularity; they lack  temporal coverage. A pass  every few days                                                               
is the not the same as 100 samples a second.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said he wanted to  cover building codes because they are                                                               
germane to  the education discussion.  Building codes  have built                                                               
into  them  the seismic  record  that  is changing  and  evolving                                                               
constantly. It  is why they know  to build to a  high standard in                                                               
some areas and not in other areas.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  said  a  video of  schoolchildren  responding  to  the                                                               
November 30  earthquake with drop,  cover, and hold  responses is                                                               
remarkable and  no accident.  There has  been a  concerted effort                                                               
over many years to train  students. Everyone involved in training                                                               
deserves accolades for the responses that day.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said over the last  six years the Alaska Seismic Hazards                                                               
Safety  Commission   has  been  pursuing  support   through  FEMA                                                               
(Federal  Emergency  Management  Agency)   to  work  with  school                                                               
districts to  provide rapid  building screening.  This highlights                                                               
which buildings in the district are of concern.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said that  is important  because in  tsunami areas                                                               
the schools are the evacuation centers.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WEST  responded  that  that  is  a  key  point  for  coastal                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. WEST said he wanted to  encourage them to put seismometers in                                                               
schools. In the  world of 2019 that  is easy to do.  It is useful                                                               
and  specific   data  about  that   particular  school   and  its                                                               
neighborhood. It  is an Alaska Seismic  Hazards Safety Commission                                                               
policy recommendation.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:31:50 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:31:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES and SENATOR COSTELLO joined the committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS reconvened the meeting.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:33:06 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM   LAMKIN,  Staff,   Senator   Gary   Stevens,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, showed a  video of the earthquake  at the University                                                               
of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) campus  submitted by UAA and noted that                                                               
Tim Edwards would be testifying via teleconference.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:35:35 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM   EDWARDS,  Chief   Risk  Officer,   University  of   Alaska,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  said over 60  facilities were damaged  at UAA                                                               
and  the University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks, including  Anchorage,                                                               
Eagle  River,  Mat-Su, and  Seward,  with  nearly $4  million  in                                                               
damages. The UAA  Anchorage campus was closed for  five days. Now                                                               
they were  working to see how  much of the $4  million FEMA would                                                               
reimburse.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  he  expected more  damage  to be  revealed                                                               
after the thaw.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  said yes,  they  were  monitoring that,  especially                                                               
around rain downspouts.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES asked  if he was repeating  assessments because of                                                               
the aftershocks.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  answered  that  they  monitor  daily  if  they  get                                                               
aftershocks. It is an on-going assessment project.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  said  the   earthquake  caused  substantial  campus                                                               
damage. The  boilers went offline  at three residence  halls. The                                                               
Chugiak-Eagle River campus was  damaged significantly. The middle                                                               
college  was relocated  temporarily, but  the Eagle  River campus                                                               
has  reopened,  which he  called  truly  amazing considering  the                                                               
amount of  damage. The UAA administration  building has reopened.                                                               
The  fire suppression,  plumbing, and  coolant leaks  at numerous                                                               
facilities were caught early with rapid initial assessment.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH asked  about the  photo  of concrete  blocks in  a                                                               
bathroom in a slide of campus damage.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS replied  that  some of  the  walls had  unreinforced                                                               
concrete.  That is  an issue  they are  looking into  as they  do                                                               
their assessment.  He said the photo  is of a leased  building in                                                               
Chugiak.  When concrete  is  not reinforced  with  rebar, it  can                                                               
cause problems quickly.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH responded, "Clearly."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. EDWARDS reviewed  a slide of flooding at  the Alaska Airlines                                                               
Center caused  by the fire  suppression system. They  were afraid                                                               
of the boards  on the basketball court warping,  but they cleaned                                                               
it up quickly and there was no damage.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. EDWARDS  said the  photo of  damage at  the Student  Union is                                                               
typical  of a  lot of  the  damage. A  lot of  ceiling tiles  and                                                               
lights came down in many areas.  Within 7 or 8 days, the response                                                               
team had the Student Union back together.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. EDWARDS said the response team  got a water main break at the                                                               
Engineering and Computation Building  under control very quickly.                                                               
It  could have  caused  major damage.  The  flooding was  getting                                                               
close to electrical  systems. It was remarkable  they didn't have                                                               
more water main breaks.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  said their  buildings  did  well structurally,  but                                                               
internally it was like shaking a  snow globe. At the library over                                                               
100,000 books were knocked off  the shelves. Everything is picked                                                               
up and running at the library now.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  said  they  have  a  strong  culture  of  emergency                                                               
planning.  They  have  three  emergency  managers,  one  at  each                                                               
campus, and  one statewide emergency manager.  They were prepared                                                               
for the  earthquake in November.  They were able to  execute what                                                               
they had  planned for. There  were no student, faculty,  or staff                                                               
injuries. The initial assessments  on all buildings were complete                                                               
in  36 hours.  The  earthquake occurred  on  Friday. They  worked                                                               
throughout  the weekend  and the  campus reopened  on Tuesday  in                                                               
time for finals and commencement.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS  shared   that  the  UAA  mantra   has  now  become,                                                               
"Together, we are unstoppable."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EDWARDS said  earthquake repairs  are  90 percent  complete.                                                               
They will be  back to 100 percent shortly. They  are working with                                                               
the claims division and FEMA.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:47:20 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  MEARIG,  Facilities  Manager, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early  Development (DEED),  Juneau, Alaska,  said the  department                                                               
does not  have a direct role  in schools at the  LDA level except                                                               
for  a few  REAA (Regional  Educational Attendance  Area) schools                                                               
that  they  own. Someone  from  the  department's facility  staff                                                               
spent the  weekend in Mat-Su  and Anchorage just being  a partner                                                               
with them. School safety staff happened  to be in Anchorage for a                                                               
conference  during the  earthquake.  That  unit provides  trauma-                                                               
centered  education   for  teachers.  They   provided  department                                                               
interface with  school districts  about available  resources such                                                               
as counselors and information.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. MEARIG  said the department  handles emergencies  through the                                                               
requirement that  each district must ensure  their buildings. The                                                               
department is not funded with  an emergency fund. AS 14.11, which                                                               
provides state  aid for  school capital,  provides for  grant and                                                               
debt reimbursement  as provided  through the legislature.  In the                                                               
Anchorage   earthquake   in    January   2016,   the   department                                                               
participated with state  aid in a project at  Romig Middle School                                                               
and West High School to  fund repairs that were initially covered                                                               
by district emergency  funds. They were then  submitted for state                                                               
aid on a  prioritized basis. That could happen  with the November                                                               
earthquake. If  costs are beyond  what FEMA insures,  there might                                                               
be  applications   to  the  state   for  funding   for  repairing                                                               
facilities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS noted  that in  coastal  communities, schools  are                                                               
evacuation  centers  in  case  of   tsunamis.  He  asked  if  the                                                               
department  has a  role in  making  sure that  those centers  are                                                               
stable.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MEARIG answered  that the department doesn't  have a specific                                                               
standard about  a school  being an emergency  shelter. That  is a                                                               
community decision. As for whether  AS 14.11 should fund a school                                                               
functioning in that  role, there has been some  discussion in the                                                               
past  about  who  has  the  responsibility  for  things  such  as                                                               
generator  capacity,  fuel,  and  food storage.  There  are  open                                                               
questions about how that dovetails with the K-12 mission.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  for confirmation  that  grants for  school                                                               
construction  require schools  to meet  the highest  standards to                                                               
anticipate seismic shock.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MEARIG replied  that  they adopt  appropriate  codes put  in                                                               
place by  code enforcement officials  and code bodies.  They list                                                               
those  codes for  school projects.  Those buildings  are superior                                                               
quality buildings. There  is a seismic importance  factor used in                                                               
code based on the type of building.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:54:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES asked,  in  addition to  building  codes, if  any                                                               
consideration of location of schools  is given as far as historic                                                               
seismic activity and location of fault lines.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MEARIG answered  that mostly  local  zoning provisions  take                                                               
those into  account. The department  has published a  school site                                                               
selection  criteria handbook  that includes  some criteria  about                                                               
siting  in   safe  areas   They  do   primarily  rely   on  local                                                               
jurisdictions.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:57:11 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:57:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE BROWN,  Executive Director of  Operations, Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
Borough School  District, Palmer, Alaska, called  the committee's                                                               
attention to the two-page handout  about the status of facilities                                                               
in the Mat-Su  Borough School District. As of  December 18, 2018,                                                               
all  schools  were back  in  session  except for  Houston  Middle                                                               
School, which  has been deemed  not safe to occupy.  The district                                                               
has spent $1 million for  earthquake repairs and response and the                                                               
Mat-Su Borough $800,000, so roughly  $2 million has been spent to                                                               
date.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN  said  the   Mat-Su  assembly  appropriated  emergency                                                               
funding  to  address  immediate   needs.  Immediately  after  the                                                               
earthquake   their  facilities   responses  included   structural                                                               
assessments as  well as  various inspections  of life  and safety                                                               
systems,  such  as  fire  protection.   Emphasis  was  placed  on                                                               
preventing  further damage  from  things such  as  water and  gas                                                               
leaks.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said outside of  the damage to Houston  Middle School,                                                               
Houston  Jr/Sr  High  School, Colony  High  School,  and  Wasilla                                                               
Middle School,  the majority  of damage was  to ceiling  grid and                                                               
tile.  Houston  Middle  School  suffered  significant  structural                                                               
damage, especially  in the second  story classroom wing,  as well                                                               
as the  gymnasium, and  is unsafe to  occupy. The  Mat-Su Borough                                                               
has already engaged  with architects and engineers  to assess the                                                               
facilities.  They are  doing that  detailed inspection  now. They                                                               
will  get  that  report  in  the next  month  and  the  insurance                                                               
adjusters report.  At that time  they can begin to  establish the                                                               
cost  estimate  to  repair  or  replace. The  damage  is  in  the                                                               
millions of  dollars with complete replacement  as a possibility.                                                               
The borough and district worked  closely to place 13 portables at                                                               
Houston High School. The two  schools were consolidated into what                                                               
is now  known as  Houston Jr/Sr  High School.  In just  one month                                                               
since  the 7.0  earthquake they  instituted  a plan  to keep  the                                                               
Houston Middle School  students together and provide  them a safe                                                               
and healthy environment. This will be an extended stay.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said Colony High  School had  gym damage and  has been                                                               
unsafe to  occupy since the  earthquake, but they  expect Monday,                                                               
February 11, that  the gym will be open. The  Knik Elementary gym                                                               
experienced  significant ceiling  grid  and  tile failure.  Those                                                               
repairs will be completed over spring break in mid-March.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN said they are  fortunate that there were no significant                                                               
injuries. They  are revisiting procedures  and processes  to help                                                               
improve  preparedness as  they move  forward.  Student and  staff                                                               
responses won the day. They  continue the process of rapid visual                                                               
screening.  They  are  screening for  further  investigations  or                                                               
future  capital  improvements  to make  improvements  in  seismic                                                               
capacity in select buildings. Their  number two priority on their                                                               
six-year  CIP [Capital  Improvement  Projects] on  file with  the                                                               
Department  of   Education  and  Early  Development   is  seismic                                                               
upgrades for four facilities.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said they are  pleased with  the actions of  staff and                                                               
students to protect life. The  way they conducted evacuations was                                                               
appropriate, as well as the  reunification process to ensure kids                                                               
were handed back  to parents and guardians  correctly and safely.                                                               
They put  a focus on  getting back to normal  operations, getting                                                               
schools opened as quickly as possible.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said lastly, they  are moving  forward on how  to make                                                               
sure they have what they  need to make improvements in facilities                                                               
based on what they've learned the last two months.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:05:41 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES said that at  Palmer High School, fire alarms were                                                               
going  off and  so students  were  exiting and  having to  remain                                                               
outside. She  asked if  teachers felt  that they  were adequately                                                               
trained as far as evacuation  and communication systems. She also                                                               
asked about  the process  for reunification  and the  process for                                                               
dealing with students whose parents  could not pick them up. Some                                                               
parents would have been stuck  in Anchorage. She noted that there                                                               
had been traffic jams when  parents were picking up students. She                                                               
asked how  the alert went out  to parents. She also  wondered how                                                               
much  fear kids  had  when  they were  back  in  school and  what                                                               
resources did teachers have for that.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN replied  that he would start  with communications. They                                                               
had an  extensive debrief with principals  about lessons learned.                                                               
Communications was one  of the primary things that  came up. They                                                               
are going  to procure additional  radios. They want to  make sure                                                               
they  have better  radio communications  so they  do not  rely on                                                               
building  infrastructure  and   administrators  can  give  better                                                               
direction and guidance about whether  students should evacuate or                                                               
stay put.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said they use  Blackboard Mass Notification,  which is                                                               
very effective  in getting the  word out quickly to  parents. The                                                               
superintendent   made   decisions    about   criteria   for   the                                                               
reunification process to  make sure that kids  would not possibly                                                               
be  going home  to a  gas leak  without an  adult to  check that.                                                               
Schools  had  explicit  guidance   about  releasing  students  to                                                               
parents and guardians. They have  had a lot of discussions lately                                                               
about  traffic  control  with  the  Mat-Su  Borough  and  how  to                                                               
orchestrate a reunification  site if they must go  to a secondary                                                               
location.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN  said the  facilities  crews  and custodians  restored                                                               
schools back  to order. Teachers  had a day in  classrooms before                                                               
students  returned to  restore  normalcy to  allow  the staff  to                                                               
address student needs the next day.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  spoke about  the trauma  of the  aftershocks. She                                                               
asked  if   teachers  felt  they   had  adequate   support  while                                                               
aftershocks  were   occurring  and  were   additional  counseling                                                               
resources needed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN answered  that he was not aware of  any specific needs,                                                               
but psychologists and counselors were available                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  asked if  he expected to  find more  damage after                                                               
the thaw.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN said  that may  occur. They  did a  grounds inspection                                                               
with a  civil engineer. Because  they are  in a more  rural area,                                                               
they  had to  look at  wells  for cracks  in casing.  They did  a                                                               
grounds assessment as best they could,  but it will be an ongoing                                                               
assessment process as the snow and ice melt.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES asked if the district requires earthquake drills.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN answered  absolutely. They  do drill  procedures on  a                                                               
regular basis  and schools are  required to report that  they did                                                               
those drills.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:14:40 AM                                                                                                                   
DEENA BISHOP,  Ph.D., Superintendent, Anchorage  School District,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  noted that on  October 19, 2019, at  10:19 in                                                               
the  morning,  every school  and  every  adult in  the  Anchorage                                                               
School (ASD)  did the  Great Alaska Shakeout,  so nearly  a month                                                               
prior to  the earthquake everyone  participated in  an earthquake                                                               
drill.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP said  that everything in her  presentation is archived                                                               
on  the  ASD  website.  The  ASD is  an  important  part  of  the                                                               
community  since  1/6th of  the  entire  population of  Anchorage                                                               
walks through an ASD school or  works in an ASD school daily, and                                                               
she wanted  to make  that she  reached out  to the  community and                                                               
made the information accessible.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP explained  that the  link to  the Earthquake  Updates                                                               
page is on the Hot Topics  page on the ASD website. Updates start                                                               
with a letter November 30 to  ASD staff and families that spelled                                                               
out how communication  would be given, what they  would be doing,                                                               
and how  they could access  the most up-to-date  information. The                                                               
last letter  is dated January  22 for Eagle River  Elementary and                                                               
Gruening Middle School, the two  schools taken offline, including                                                               
for next year. They are now  working with the entire community to                                                               
work  for  the  best  situation   of  kids.  Their  primary  goal                                                               
immediately after the earthquake was  to keep students with their                                                               
teachers.  But now  they  want  to talk  to  the community  about                                                               
whether rezoning would  be better than splitting  up grade levels                                                               
and things  like that. They  are being very transparent  with the                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  said the ASD  web page, The  Road to Recovery,  is an                                                               
update of  all information from  the very first  rapid assessment                                                               
the day of the earthquake as well as the next steps.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP said they did  have an emergency operation center, the                                                               
Ed Center. They  kept track of all 92 facilities  plus two rented                                                               
facilities. By statutory requirement,  schools must have a higher                                                               
level of  readiness than  general buildings.  They had  to ensure                                                               
that fire alarms  were working, that panic  buttons were working,                                                               
that  the  playground  equipment  had  been  assessed,  that  the                                                               
kitchen  was ready  for  lunch.  The Ed  Center  kept an  ongoing                                                               
assessment  of capital  and  school-ready  functions. That  group                                                               
operated for a month after the earthquake.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP showed  an online  spreadsheet of  ASD school  status                                                               
that was updated with information from  the Ed Center. As soon as                                                               
they knew information, families knew it.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:21:11 AM                                                                                                                   
DR.  BISHOP shared  that a  video  of student  reaction had  been                                                               
taken because, serendipitously, a  teacher supervisor happened to                                                               
be  filming a  teacher  lesson when  the  earthquake struck.  The                                                               
video  shows   how  well  the   students  responded   during  the                                                               
earthquake. Dr. Bishop said they do  teach their kids to be alert                                                               
and then listen to instructions. Dr.  Bishop related a story of a                                                               
reporter asking her  how she responded when she  first heard that                                                               
an  earthquake  was  going to  happen.  She  added,  "Preparation                                                               
matters.  The   training  matters.  The  Great   Alaska  Shakeout                                                               
matters."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  said the  emergency operation center  was set  up the                                                               
day  of  earthquake. The  primary  focus  was student  and  staff                                                               
safety and  then reunifications  with families.  Initially, about                                                               
24,000 students  were in buildings.  The earthquake  struck right                                                               
before  elementary school  started, and  12,000 students  were on                                                               
buses.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP said that seven of  the 15 heavily damaged schools are                                                               
in  the  Chugiak-Eagle River  area.  Eagle  River Elementary  and                                                               
Gruening Middle  School are the  two taken offline for  next year                                                               
and  presently,  students  are  housed  in  different  locations.                                                               
School was closed for  a week. For two days all  staff was out so                                                               
they could  ensure all buildings.  Then all  employees, including                                                               
bus  drivers,  aides,  and teachers,  moved  classrooms  and  put                                                               
classrooms back  together. They  used their  own school  buses to                                                               
move material.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP said  that FEMA  was onsite  February 4.  The process                                                               
with FEMA  is a  negotiation about  loss and  damage. The  ASD to                                                               
date has  expended just over $22  million. Many of the  costs are                                                               
reimbursable  through  insurance.  They do  not  have  earthquake                                                               
insurance per  se, but  building contents  and what  occurs after                                                               
the  earthquake,  such  as  water   damage,  are  covered.  Their                                                               
insurance adjusters called  the day of the  earthquake. The slide                                                               
presentation  noted that  the costs  do  not include  the top  15                                                               
schools that  are currently being  evaluated by  architecture and                                                               
design firms.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP concluded  by sharing  an  ASD video  made to  assure                                                               
families that  students would be  safe returning to  school. They                                                               
wanted to show classrooms were mission ready.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  asked if she  expected to find more  damage after                                                               
the thaw.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  answered absolutely,  especially in parking  lots and                                                               
ground damage. ASD  has received some criticism  about bonding or                                                               
the cost  of school  construction. ASD  has been  replacing roofs                                                               
over the  last several  years. Schools in  Anchorage are  old and                                                               
built  under different  code. As  they replace  roofs, they  also                                                               
upgrade them to  seismic code. Now the  community understands why                                                               
roofs cost $2 to $3 million.  The newer areas of Dimond High went                                                               
through the  earthquake just  fine. The  original areas  were the                                                               
ones damaged. They know that building codes work.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP said  that  when kids  came back  to  school, it  was                                                               
important to return to normalcy,  to move through this emergency,                                                               
to learn  from this event, to  talk about it, and  to continue to                                                               
learn.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  thanked her for preparing  students. She shared                                                               
that she  was home with  her 11-year-old son when  the earthquake                                                               
hit and he  grabbed her hand and ducked under  the kitchen table.                                                               
She said anyone who went to  West High School knows it is missing                                                               
a  level because  of the  64  quake. The  Alaska Seismic  Hazards                                                               
Safety Commission  provides information on the  FEMA rapid visual                                                               
screening risk results, which  estimates the collapse probability                                                               
of schools.  The commission told  her the  Anchorage municipality                                                               
does not  provide that information  to the commission.  She asked                                                               
Dr. Bishop to work with  her on addressing that because Anchorage                                                               
public  schools  should  not be  omitted  from  this  transparent                                                               
source of information.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:32:45 AM                                                                                                                   
DR. BISHOP  answered that  she would.  She said  her ASD  has not                                                               
been   contacted,  but   they  will   look  into   it  with   the                                                               
municipality.  ASD runs  the schools,  but the  municipality owns                                                               
the schools.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  asked how the  FEMA money was handled.  And since                                                               
school was  not in  session for  a week, would  there have  to be                                                               
makeup days for students.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  replied that  the ASD  builds additional  days beyond                                                               
the minimum of  170 days. Students will make up  1.5 days and 1.5                                                               
days  will be  excused  by  DEED. Extending  the  school year  is                                                               
difficult  for families  because of  graduations, work,  students                                                               
going into military, and so many other concerns.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. BISHOP  said that FEMA  is not  a legislative process.  It is                                                               
directly with  the entities of  the city, university,  and school                                                               
district.  FEMA is  a negotiation.  They  must demonstrate  those                                                               
needs. It  is an approval by  the federal government of  the need                                                               
that the federal government will reimburse up to 75 percent.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS said  preparation is  really important.  They were                                                               
lucky  it wasn't  worse as  it  has been  in the  past. He  asked                                                               
whether the school district is an evacuation site.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BISHOP responded  that many  schools  are evacuation  sites.                                                               
Through their  emergency response  they have enough  food, water,                                                               
and  blankets--enough  for three  days  to  house the  number  of                                                               
students  and families  in different  areas. They  work with  the                                                               
municipality  on  that.  Structurally,   many  schools  were  not                                                               
damaged.   The  older   HVAC  (heating,   ventilation,  and   air                                                               
conditioning)  systems  use  water,   so,  along  with  sprinkler                                                               
systems, they had  extensive water damage. The  ages of buildings                                                               
and  dates  of  renovations   mattered  with  earthquake  damage.                                                               
Starting  November 30,  the city  wanted  to know  the extent  of                                                               
damage  in  order  to  know  whether schools  could  be  used  as                                                               
evacuation sites. Some of the  schools were greenlined right away                                                               
for the  city in case they  were needed. "It really  just worked.                                                               
Practice does help us prepare," Dr. Bishop said.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:38:59 AM                                                                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Stevens  adjourned the Senate Education  Standing Committee                                                               
at 10:38 a.m.                                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SEDC_Presentation_AKEarthquakeCenter_MikeWest_07Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - Presentation - Impacts of the Nov 30, 2018 Earthquake on AK Schools
SEDC_Presentation_MatSu_SD_Earthquakes_MikeBrown_07Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - Presentation - Impacts of the Nov 30, 2018 Earthquake on AK Schools
SEDC_Presentation_AnchSD_Earthquakes_DeenaBishop_07Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - Presentation - Impacts of the Nov 30, 2018 Earthquake on AK Schools
SEDC_Presentation_UnivAK_USArray_07Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - Presentation - Impacts of the Nov 30, 2018 Earthquake on AK Schools
SEDC_Presentation_UnivAKcampuses_Earthquake Impact_07Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - Presentation - Impacts of the Nov 30, 2018 Earthquake on AK Schools
SEDC_Presentation_UnivAK_UAA Earthquake_Footage11-30-18.mp4 SEDC 2/7/2019 9:00:00 AM
SEDC - PRESENTATION - IMPACTS OF THE NOV 30, 2018 EARTHQUAKE ON AK SCHOOLS