Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/14/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:59:39 AM Start
08:59:49 AM SJR9
11:15:05 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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Heard & Held
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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 14, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:59 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                                                                                                            
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 9                                                                                                   
Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska                                                                 
relating to an appropriation bill funding public education for                                                                  
grades kindergarten through 12.                                                                                                 
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SJR  9                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) COSTELLO                                                                                                 
03/06/19       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/06/19       (S)       EDC, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/14/19       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
TOM WRIGHT, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SJR 9 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive Director                                                                                   
Alaska Council of School Administrators                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
TIM PARKER, President                                                                                                           
National Education Association (NEA) Alaska                                                                                     
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
NILS ANDREASSEN, Director                                                                                                       
Alaska Municipal League                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
SARAH SLEDGE, Director                                                                                                          
Coalition for Education Equity                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
TAMMY SMITH, State Director                                                                                                     
National Education Association-Alaska                                                                                           
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
CHRISTINE VILLANO, National Education Association-Alaska                                                                        
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
ERIC PETERSON, President                                                                                                        
Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals;                                                                             
Paul Banks Elementary School                                                                                                    
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
DAVID NEESE, representing self                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
DIANNE SHIBE, President                                                                                                         
Matanuska-Susistna Education Association                                                                                        
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9                                                                                           
DAN CARSTENS, President                                                                                                         
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals                                                                               
Nikiski Middle-High School                                                                                                      
Nikiski, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
SHAWN ARNOLD, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Valdez City Schools                                                                                                             
Valdez, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
PETE HOEPFNER, School Board Member                                                                                              
Cordova School District                                                                                                         
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
ROY GETCHELL, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Haines Borough School District                                                                                                  
Haines, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
PATRICK MAYER, President                                                                                                        
Alaska Council of School Administrators                                                                                         
Yakutat School District                                                                                                         
Yakutat, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
JILL SHOWMAN, representing self                                                                                                 
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
CONNIE NEWMAN, Superintendent                                                                                                   
Iditarod Area School District                                                                                                   
McGrath, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
BRIDGET WEISS, Ph.D., Superintendent                                                                                            
Juneau School District                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 9.                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:59:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GARY STEVENS called the Senate Education Standing                                                                       
Committee meeting to order at 8:59 a.m. Present at the call to                                                                  
order were  Senators Begich, Hughes,  Costello, Birch,  and Chair                                                               
        SJR  9-CONST.AM: APPROP. BILL FOR PUBL EDUCATION                                                                    
8:59:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced the  consideration of  SJR 9.  He stated                                                               
his  intent to  introduce the  bill, hear  public testimony,  and                                                               
hold the bill in committee.                                                                                                     
9:01:02 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM   WRIGHT,  Staff,   Senator   Mia   Costello,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, introduced SJR 9,  related to early                                                               
funding for education, on behalf  of the sponsor. He reviewed the                                                               
contents  of  the bill  packets  including  the legal  memo  from                                                               
Legislative  Legal Services  that explains  that one  legislature                                                               
cannot pass  a statute that  binds a future legislature.  This is                                                               
referred to  as legislative entrenchment.  Both the  U.S. Supreme                                                               
Court and  the Alaska Supreme  Court have ruled  that legislative                                                               
entrenchment  by   statute  is   not  allowed.  However,   it  is                                                               
permissible for  a legislature to entrench  legislation through a                                                               
constitutional amendment.                                                                                                       
MR. WRIGHT said  none of the various  education amendments before                                                               
the legislature  from 1993 to  the present have dealt  with early                                                               
funding. SJR 9 requires a  separate appropriation bill to fund K-                                                               
12  public education  and requires  the legislature  to pass  and                                                               
transmit an  appropriation bill  for K-12  education by  the 45th                                                               
day of  each regulation session.  Currently, school  districts by                                                               
statute must  submit budgets to  municipal governments by  May 1.                                                               
These  dates vary  from March  1 to  early May  depending on  the                                                               
municipal ordinance. Research done  by Mr. Lamkin and Legislative                                                               
Research  shows the  legislature typically  passes the  operating                                                               
budget, which includes education  funding, from mid-April to late                                                               
May  and  on some  occasions,  into  June.  Passage after  May  1                                                               
creates uncertainty for school  districts and municipalities. The                                                               
uncertainty  forces  school  districts  to issue  pink  slips  if                                                               
contracts are  not finalized by  May 15 for tenured  teachers and                                                               
by the  last day of  the school  term for nontenured  teachers as                                                               
outlined in AS 14.20.140.                                                                                                       
MR. WRIGHT  said the  Institute of  Social and  Economic Research                                                               
(ISER)  study in  the bill  packets shows  that between  2016 and                                                               
2017, the turnover rates for teachers  in rural areas was over 30                                                               
percent, 22 percent for hub communities,  and 14 to 16 percent in                                                               
more  populous communities.  According  to  ISER, research  shows                                                               
high  teacher turnover  hurts student  achievement. According  to                                                               
the  National Education  Association  (NEA), 1,000  of the  8,900                                                               
teachers in the  state turn over yearly. This comes  at a cost to                                                               
each school district.                                                                                                           
MR.  WRIGHT  said  uncertainty  among  municipalities  and  local                                                               
governments  when  attempting to  build  a  budget for  the  next                                                               
fiscal year is another reason to  look at early funding. He noted                                                               
that SJR  9 has  letters of  support from  the Alaska  Council of                                                               
School Administrators,  the Association of Alaska  School Boards,                                                               
NEA, and  many teachers  and constituents  statewide. SJR  9 does                                                               
not address funding sources. It  does not talk about increases or                                                               
decreases,  funding the  Public  Employee Retiree  System or  the                                                               
Teacher  Retirement  System,  school  bonds or  debt,  or  pupil-                                                               
teacher  ratios.  It does  remove  education  funding from  late-                                                               
session  negotiations   that  are   conducted  between   the  two                                                               
legislative  bodies and  the  administration. He  said  SJR 9  is                                                               
about  supporting   K-12  education  funding  and   removing  the                                                               
uncertainty of funding for schools.                                                                                             
CHAIR  STEVENS  asked  for  an   explanation  of  process  for  a                                                               
constitutional amendment.                                                                                                       
MR.  WRIGHT answered  that the  resolution  requires a  two-third                                                               
vote from  each body and  if it passes,  it goes directly  to the                                                               
ballot. The governor does not have much of a role.                                                                              
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  it  requires   a  simple  majority  in  the                                                               
MR. WRIGHT agreed.                                                                                                              
9:06:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH said he is generally  reticent to put things in the                                                               
constitution. He noted the talk about  a flurry of pink slips and                                                               
said he  wonders how  much of  that is  a manifestation  of labor                                                               
contracts that  municipalities or  school districts  have engaged                                                               
in  and  the  notice  requirements   for  tenured  employees.  He                                                               
suggested that perhaps the budget should  be passed in 90 days so                                                               
it  doesn't drag  out halfway  through the  summer. He  asked Mr.                                                               
Wright to speak to the labor contracts.                                                                                         
MR. WRIGHT  said there is  a statutory requirement  that requires                                                               
pink slips  to go  out by  a certain  date if  the budget  is not                                                               
finalized.   He  deferred   further   explanation   to  the   NEA                                                               
SENATOR  BIRCH said  there  is  no mandate  in  statute to  align                                                               
fiscal  years  and  they  often  differ  for  cities  and  school                                                               
districts. He asked if that had any impact.                                                                                     
MR.  WRIGHT  answered  no  and  added  that  Anchorage  municipal                                                               
ordinance says the school district  budget is due to the assembly                                                               
by the first Monday in March.                                                                                                   
9:09:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said he supports  the constitutional amendment and                                                               
wonders if  the sponsor would  consider amending the  language to                                                               
allow  for the  possibility,  if  prekindergarten is  statutorily                                                               
authorized,  for prekindergarten  to  be  included. He  suggested                                                               
that  the language  could refer  to expenditures  to fund  public                                                               
education to precollege.                                                                                                        
MR. WRIGHT  replied that  he would respond  after talking  to the                                                               
bill sponsor.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH referenced  legislative entrenchment  and offered                                                               
his  understanding that  it takes  an act  of the  legislature to                                                               
choose not  to be bound.  The legislature  passes a bill  and the                                                               
legislature chooses  to continue  to act  under the  authority of                                                               
that statute that "binds" it but  has the power to reverse it. He                                                               
said that is why he likes this constitutional approach.                                                                         
MR. WRIGHT responded that without  the Legislative Legal memo the                                                               
sponsor probably  would have  introduced statutory  language like                                                               
the chair did in 2018 with Senate Bill 131.                                                                                     
9:11:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES commented  on the importance of  certainty in K-12                                                               
funding  and the  short time  the legislature  has to  figure the                                                               
education budget out.  She asked if in the early  2000s there was                                                               
an attempt  to fund education a  year in advance. She  noted that                                                               
would require double funding one year, which would be tough.                                                                    
MR.  WRIGHT answered  that  his recollection  is  that there  was                                                               
forward funding  some years back  that ended three or  four years                                                               
ago at the beginning of the budget crisis.                                                                                      
SENATOR  HUGHES said  she would  prefer that  because that  would                                                               
allow the full time for vetting.  She said she would be concerned                                                               
about a new governor laying out  a revised budget February 15 and                                                               
the legislature having only 15 days to figure things out.                                                                       
CHAIR STEVENS asked  if the legal opinion raised  the question of                                                               
forward funding.                                                                                                                
MR. WRIGHT answered that it does not.                                                                                           
9:14:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH said  he was  pleased to  hear the  legal opinion                                                               
does not affect forward funding  because that is technically what                                                               
the  legislature did  last year  when  they passed  two years  of                                                               
funding.  One year  of funding  was put  in the  public education                                                               
fund.  He  said the  binding  language  is that  the  legislature                                                               
retains  the  right  to  repeal   that  action.  He  offered  his                                                               
interpretation  that the  first  year of  a new  administration's                                                               
budget regarding education is  irrelevant because the legislature                                                               
has already  funded it. That  addresses the question  because the                                                               
legislature didn't have  to wait 15 days to review  or revise. It                                                               
already happened because of forward funding.                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES asked  if it  would make  more sense  to prohibit                                                               
peeling back  what was forward  funded. It  would be part  of the                                                               
normal 90- or 120-days budget process the prior year.                                                                           
CHAIR STEVENS  said the committee  certainly wants to  hear about                                                               
the problems districts have.                                                                                                    
9:16:48 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive  Director, Alaska Council of                                                               
School Administrators  (ACSA), Juneau, Alaska,  said SJR 9  is an                                                               
important bill  at a  critical time.  To address  Senator Birch's                                                               
questions, she  said ACSA  agrees with  his initial  reticence to                                                               
support  a  constitutional  amendment.  Ideally  the  legislature                                                               
would do  what it did last  year or forward fund  or do something                                                               
to  ensure  reliable  funding.  The whole  point  is  for  school                                                               
districts  to operate  efficiently and  run like  a business.  In                                                               
order  to do  that,  it is  necessary to  know  the budget.  ACSA                                                               
members appreciate  that Senator  Costello brought  this forward.                                                               
At the  end of the  day, it needs  to be consistent  and reliable                                                               
and this seems to be the best pathway to ensure that.                                                                           
DR.  PARADY  said the  teacher  shortage  is a  national  crisis.                                                               
Alaska historically  is reliant  on recruiting teachers  from the                                                               
lower 48, which  makes the crisis worse. She noted  that the ISER                                                               
numbers  are a  bit  dated. Currently,  teacher  turnover in  the                                                               
state is 25 percent and  the trajectory is going up, particularly                                                               
in non-urban areas.  In remote, isolated places,  the turnover is                                                               
60 to  70 percent. That  is devastating considering  the research                                                               
on student  achievement and  the importance  of quality  staff in                                                               
classrooms. Principals  are second only  to teachers in  terms of                                                               
student  achievement and  principal turnover  is 26  percent. She                                                               
said  the leadership  component is  also essential.  In her  five                                                               
years in office,  she has seen almost a 70  percent turnover rate                                                               
of superintendents.  Thinking of it  as a business,  the teachers                                                               
are the  front line,  the principals  are the  middle management,                                                               
and the superintendents  are the CEOs. She asked  what the output                                                               
of a business is with that kind of turnover.                                                                                    
DR.  PARADY said  it  is  important to  look  at  districts as  a                                                               
business as well. Districts are  working hard to be efficient and                                                               
effective and serve their students  in the best way possible. She                                                               
said  all  policymakers  need to  understand  that  reliable  and                                                               
predictable funding  is key to  their ability to  serve students.                                                               
Her organization  just completed  an impact  survey to  learn how                                                               
individual districts will be impacted  by the governor's proposed                                                               
budget.  Their  initial  takeaway shows  Alaska  is  hemorrhaging                                                               
teachers  because  of  the  uncertainty.  A  principal  told  her                                                               
yesterday  that  two  great   nontenured  teachers  were  leaving                                                               
because he  can't give  them their  contracts. She  mentioned the                                                               
letter she  sent to committee  members and the timeline  and said                                                               
that unequivocally the highest priority  is timely, reliable, and                                                               
predictable  revenue  for  schools  so   that  they  can  do  the                                                               
appropriate planning the way the committee would like them to.                                                                  
9:24:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  her  to  go through  the  timeline for  the                                                               
DR. PARADY  said pursuant to  AS 14.14.060 school  districts that                                                               
are  a component  unit of  a city  or borough  must submit  their                                                               
budgets  to  their  municipality  by May  1.  Right  now  tenured                                                               
teachers' contracts  are being signed.  In many  school districts                                                               
nontenured  [contracts] are  being  held as  a  result of  budget                                                               
uncertainty. If  there is no  resolution on education  funding by                                                               
May 15, nontenured teachers will  likely be pink slipped. That is                                                               
the hard  deadline. There are  different timelines  in ordinances                                                               
for submitting  budgets. Anchorage has  a March 1  deadline. Many                                                               
deadlines are April  1. Districts are preparing  their budgets in                                                               
December to present to their governing bodies.                                                                                  
CHAIR STEVENS  said it  is difficult for  districts to  do hiring                                                               
without   knowing  the   budget.   His  sympathies   go  out   to                                                               
superintendents who  must decide what  the budget is going  to be                                                               
and must  decide whether to  hire people without  knowing whether                                                               
the  money  will  be  there.   It  is  an  enormous  problem  for                                                               
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  everyone  is   subject  to  a  budget.  His                                                               
frustration relates to being involved  in local government. There                                                               
is  a disconnect  between the  two masters.  The State  of Alaska                                                               
provides  significant  funding for  education.  There  is also  a                                                               
local  component. A  lot of  the  spending rests  with the  local                                                               
school boards,  such as contract provisions  and health benefits.                                                               
The legislature  doesn't have any  control over that.  Anyone who                                                               
has  been a  parent  or in  a work  environment  strives to  have                                                               
certainty and  stability in both one's  professional and personal                                                               
life. The pink  slip kerfuffle that seems to  happen when there's                                                               
a funding  issue has always  troubled him.  If there is  a budget                                                               
people are  subject to,  the budget has  to be  approved, whether                                                               
state, local, or  federal. His frustration is that  the pink slip                                                               
issue is  largely a  manifestation of  a contract  provision that                                                               
could be dealt with at a local  level. It is not being dealt with                                                               
effectively. If the  money is not there, someone is  not going to                                                               
have a job.  He doesn't know anyone who  discounts the importance                                                               
of education. He has four  kids in the Anchorage School District.                                                               
The  fact is  that  they will  fund education  this  year. He  is                                                               
concerned  with the  issue of  contract  requirements. There  are                                                               
hard and fast  dates for tenured vs. nontenured. He  asked if the                                                               
difference  is  a  manifestation  of  state  law  or  a  contract                                                               
DR. PARADY  said school districts  do not have control  over many                                                               
costs, such as health insurance.  Addressing some of those things                                                               
from  a  policy  level  would   provide  some  relief  to  school                                                               
districts.  A superintendent  this year  looks at  a budget  that                                                               
takes funding back  to 2005 levels, which is  what the governor's                                                               
budget does, and looks at  inflationary costs of health insurance                                                               
since  2005,  which districts  have  no  control over,  but  they                                                               
absorb those costs in their  budgets. If a superintendent in that                                                               
situation knows and  believes that the legislature  will not fund                                                               
education at the 2005 level, but  also knows that is all there is                                                               
at this point, how does  the superintendent budget for that. What                                                               
happens is multiple  budget scenarios. One is  for the worst-case                                                               
scenario.  The  Kenai  School  District   will  cut  all  sports.                                                               
Districts will do  x and y. Enormous amounts of  energy are spent                                                               
trying to anticipate  where the budget will land.  And then there                                                               
are  the statutory  requirements,  the tenured/nontenured  dates,                                                               
the  ordinance  dates,  and any  specific  collective  bargaining                                                               
agreement pieces. It is a complex  way to plan for districts. She                                                               
thanked the committee for what  the legislature did last year. It                                                               
was hard  fought and gave  everyone in education  the opportunity                                                               
to plan and do budgets with  some assurance that they could offer                                                               
contracts in a  timely way and retain and  attract teachers. They                                                               
want  to encourage  legislators to  stay the  course. The  law is                                                               
clear. That action did not  bind the hands of future legislators.                                                               
They  were  within  their  rights  to put  an  extension  of  the                                                               
effective date  on existing funds.  That was legal, it  will hold                                                               
if it goes into law.                                                                                                            
9:33:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH commented that testimony  in Senate Finance related                                                               
to education  indicated that  the cost  of health  care increased                                                               
from $300 million to $600  million. He said he doesn't understand                                                               
why local district would not  have control over that because they                                                               
negotiate labor  contracts that  define how  health care  is paid                                                               
and how much is paid.                                                                                                           
DR. PARADY said she was  referring to the extreme escalating cost                                                               
of  health  insurance.  Her  organization   is  in  the  private,                                                               
nonprofit sector  and she's had  not control over the  37 percent                                                               
increase in insurance. Furthermore, she  said she doesn't know of                                                               
a district  that has not  negotiated with teachers and  others to                                                               
address escalating  costs in  health care.  It's not  possible to                                                               
keep  up  with   the  extreme  increases  even   if  health  care                                                               
provisions are changed in collective bargaining agreements.                                                                     
SENATOR HUGHES asked  if she had any information  on how district                                                               
employee  contributions compare  with  contributions for  federal                                                               
and state employees  and most private sector  employees. She said                                                               
her  understanding is  that district  employee contributions  are                                                               
DR. PARADY  answered no but  she would  think that it  would look                                                               
different  for each  collective  bargaining  unit. She  suggested                                                               
that NEA may have that information.                                                                                             
SENATOR  HUGHES  reiterated  her understanding  but  acknowledged                                                               
that she did not know the numbers.                                                                                              
SENATOR BEGICH  reminded the committee  that tenure rights  are a                                                               
statutory issue, not a negotiated issue.                                                                                        
DR. PARADY  added that teachers  become tenured on the  first day                                                               
of their fourth year. This is not negotiated.                                                                                   
9:37:04 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  PARKER,  President,  National  Education  Association  (NEA)                                                               
Alaska, Fairbanks,  Alaska, said  he is  an English  teacher from                                                               
Lathrop  High School.  He represents  13,000 members  from across                                                               
the state, both teachers and  education support professionals. He                                                               
said  NEA's mission  and job  is  to make  sure student  learning                                                               
happens so proposals  like this and others  that increase student                                                               
learning  are very  important and  will receive  NEA support.  He                                                               
noted  that there  seems  to be  unanimous  consensus today  that                                                               
stability and certainty are what  everyone is looking for. Issues                                                               
arise when  that is  disrupted. He thanked  the sponsor  for this                                                               
legislation and the  entire legislature for the work  it did last                                                               
year in an attempt to  provide some stability and consistency. He                                                               
said that  work did not have  the intended effect because  of the                                                               
budget proposal.  It's a  topic statewide  but in  particular for                                                               
teachers  because  their limited  term  to  obtain contracts  has                                                               
started. People are  or are not being offered  contracts and they                                                               
are  choosing  to   stay  or  leave  the   state.  An  unintended                                                               
consequence is  that some teachers anticipate  they won't receive                                                               
a contract  and they are leaving  now. Some of the  best teachers                                                               
are leaving the state.                                                                                                          
He thanked  the entire  legislature for  last year's  work, which                                                               
was  an attempt  to do  something similar  to this--provide  some                                                               
stability  and  consistency. It  should  have  had that  intended                                                               
effect. It is  not having the entire intended  effect now because                                                               
of  the   budget  proposal  that's   become  the  topic   of  the                                                               
legislature. Everyone in the state  is talking about it. Teachers                                                               
are  talking about  it. Teachers  have a  limited term  to obtain                                                               
contracts.  Their window  has already  started. People  are being                                                               
offered  or not  being offered  contracts. Some  are anticipating                                                               
leaving.  That is  the unintended  consequence. People  look down                                                               
the line and see  they are the person who will be  let go so they                                                               
might  as well  leave. Some  teachers  of the  best teachers  are                                                               
talking  about  leaving   the  state  because  of   the  lack  of                                                               
MR.  PARKER  said  it's  critical  to  focus  on  attracting  and                                                               
retaining  professionals  because  there is  a  national  teacher                                                               
shortage  and Alaska  is  in  competition with  the  rest of  the                                                               
country.  He noted  that  more than  20  governors have  proposed                                                               
increasing  teacher pay.  In Washington  state  last year  salary                                                               
increases of 20 percent were common.  Alaska is not keeping up in                                                               
the competition.  At the  same time,  recent research  shows that                                                               
enrollment in teacher colleges has  dropped 35 percent throughout                                                               
the country. In part it's  because the profession has been picked                                                               
on and  insulted. Alaska has  to hire many teachers  from Outside                                                               
because Alaska colleges  produce 200 to 250 teachers  a year, and                                                               
the state needs close to a thousand teachers every year.                                                                        
MR.  PARKER said  another factor  is  that Alaska  has the  worst                                                               
retirement in  the country for  teachers. Forty-nine  states have                                                               
defined benefits or  a hybrid. Alaska is the only  state that has                                                               
defined contributions  only and no Social  Security. The youngest                                                               
educators realize that  it is a mammoth risk factor  and they are                                                               
leaving.  Portability that  was put  in the  2006 package  looked                                                               
attractive when  salaries were going up  everywhere else combined                                                               
with the disruption in Alaska  created a perfect storm and people                                                               
are leaving. It is hurting the system.                                                                                          
MR.  PARKER advised  that the  Alaska  Education Challenge  (AEC)                                                               
report  was on  the DEED  website.  He said  the commissioner  is                                                               
highlighting  the  trajectory  to prepare,  attract,  and  retain                                                               
effective  education   professionals  and  the  State   Board  of                                                               
Education is  leaning into that.  The national research  cited in                                                               
the report  suggests that outcomes improve  when students receive                                                               
quality instruction from well-prepared  teachers and that teacher                                                               
turnover negatively affects student outcomes.                                                                                   
MR.  PARKER described  SJR  9 as  part of  the  solution to  high                                                               
teacher turnover rates.  It provides stability and  that leads to                                                               
better  student outcomes.  Teachers  who stay  are  able to  form                                                               
relationships and  improve student trust, all  of which increases                                                               
the likelihood that learning will occur.                                                                                        
9:48:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  said that his  experience in high school  was that                                                               
forming  relationships with  teachers who  were there  year after                                                               
year was very important in building trust.                                                                                      
SENATOR BEGICH  explained that by statute,  tenured teachers must                                                               
be notified  by May 15  and all others by  the end of  the school                                                               
year  that  they will  not  be  retained.  That  is not  part  of                                                               
contract negotiations.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  BIRCH asked  if it  was  necessary to  issue pink  slips                                                               
because  they're  inevitably turned  around.  He  shared that  he                                                               
supports advance  funding for education like  the legislature did                                                               
last year.                                                                                                                      
MR.  PARKER replied  he didn't  know if  they were  necessary. He                                                               
said pink  slips are  a question  mark and  people are  forced to                                                               
make career  decisions based on  that question mark.  Some choose                                                               
to stay but most do not.                                                                                                        
9:51:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH commented that when  he was in local government the                                                               
Anchorage School  District health  care plan was  always shrouded                                                               
in mystery and not very transparent.  He asked how health care is                                                               
generally offered to teachers across the state.                                                                                 
MR.  PARKER  said that  health  care  is an  important  component                                                               
because  everyone   has  suffered  from  explosive   health  care                                                               
increases.  Health care  in  Alaska is  outpacing  prices in  the                                                               
lower  48, which  is  why  people fly  to  Seattle for  low-level                                                               
things like  colonoscopies. He said  NEA members, who tend  to be                                                               
slightly older and mostly female,  place a high premium on health                                                               
care. Other memberships,  like a group of  25-year-old men, might                                                               
place  a  different  value  on   health  care.  He  said  various                                                               
arrangements are made  for health care throughout  the state. The                                                               
Public Education Health  Trust is one of the  larger options that                                                               
can be  negotiated. Other  areas, like  Fairbanks and  Kenai, are                                                               
self-insured. Trusts  cannot stop increases in  health care costs                                                               
because they are subject to  the same hospital and doctor charges                                                               
as everyone  else. He said he  doesn't know what to  do about it.                                                               
That is not his area of expertise.                                                                                              
SENATOR HUGHES  asked if he  could speak to the  average employee                                                               
contributions for health care in  districts across the state. She                                                               
said  her  understanding  is that  those  contributions  are  low                                                               
compared to federal and state employee contracts.                                                                               
MR. PARKER  said he  would follow up  with the  numbers comparing                                                               
the two groups.  He continued to say that the  only difference is                                                               
that NEA  puts a  high premium  on health  care. In  general, NEA                                                               
members  on average  are 52  years old  and female.  NEA bargains                                                               
health care  and is always  willing to  pay more to  keep members                                                               
from going without health care.                                                                                                 
SENATOR HUGHES asked him to follow up with the information.                                                                     
MR. PARKER agreed to do so.                                                                                                     
9:56:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  said the National Conference  of State Legislators                                                               
had  a   federally-funded  program  called  Legislators   in  the                                                               
Classroom.  It was  a  wonderful program  that  stopped when  the                                                               
grant funding  ran out. He  said there was no  cost to it  and he                                                               
would hope  that school districts  would invite  legislators into                                                               
classrooms.  He related  that last  year he  spent an  exhausting                                                               
half-day  in a  first grade  class  and he  was in  awe that  the                                                               
teacher, a woman  in her 50s, had complete control  of the class.                                                               
He emphasized the importance for  all legislators to take time to                                                               
go into the classroom.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  HUGHES  expressed  concern about  the  national  teacher                                                               
shortage, the  loss of teacher accreditation  [for the University                                                               
of Anchorage (UAA) Alaska School  of Education], and the national                                                               
reduction in students enrolling  in teacher preparation programs.                                                               
She  asked   if  there  was   any  information  that   shows  the                                                               
correlation between  schools with  high turnover rates  and lower                                                               
academic performance. She said that  is important information for                                                               
legislators as they consider education funding.                                                                                 
MR. PARKER said  that by any measure, whether it  is the National                                                               
Assessment   of   Educational   Progress,   the   state's   PEAKS                                                               
assessment, MAP  [Measures of Academic Progress]  assessments, or                                                               
teacher  assessments,  high  teacher turnover  horribly  disrupts                                                               
students' ability  to learn in  the classroom. Studies  show that                                                               
it is never good when positions  can't be filled or are filled by                                                               
long-term  substitute teachers,  but that  situation is  becoming                                                               
more common.                                                                                                                    
He  said NEA  is watching  the  UAA situation  carefully. If  the                                                               
university system  were to  produce fewer  teachers than  it does                                                               
now,  recruitment from  outside  Alaska would  need to  increase.                                                               
ISER studies show it costs $25,000  to recruit a new teacher from                                                               
the  lower 48.  He noted  that University  President Johnsen  has                                                               
talked  about  ways  to  increase  the  numbers  in  the  teacher                                                               
programs  in  the state  and  NEA  supports that,  especially  if                                                               
people from across  the state enter the programs  and then return                                                               
as teachers to wherever they came  from. He noted that at Lathrop                                                               
High School  all the  teachers who  attended Lathrop  as students                                                               
are  recognized in  the first  assembly  of the  year. It's  very                                                               
powerful for the  students to see that. He said  the successes in                                                               
the system  are almost always  associated with a  solid community                                                               
base  and  it's important  to  build  on  that.  It's a  win  for                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony.                                                                                          
10:01:09 AM                                                                                                                   
NILS  ANDREASSEN,  Director,  Alaska  Municipal  League,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, said  the Alaska Municipal  League (AML) is  comprised of                                                               
165 municipalities  and incorporated  cities and  boroughs across                                                               
the  state. State  budget appropriations  and allocations  are of                                                               
extreme  importance  to  the  health   and  well-being  of  local                                                               
governments. AML is the advocacy  arm of Alaska's municipalities.                                                               
He  said  AML  believes  that   SJR  9  is  beneficial  to  local                                                               
government. The National Conference  on State Legislatures (NCSL)                                                               
knows that states bear the  burden of ensuring that the statewide                                                               
school finance system is founded  on sound governance principles.                                                               
This   includes  promoting   predictability   and  stability   of                                                               
education  revenues and  expenditures  over time.  He said  every                                                               
state constitution contains  a clause that requires  the state to                                                               
provide a system  of free public education.  The Alaska Municipal                                                               
League  has been  a proponent  of forward  funding the  education                                                               
budget. In  2006 and 2007,  after ISER  studies of the  time, AML                                                               
voted on  resolutions that advocated  for stable  and predictable                                                               
funding.  Since  2012,  AML  position  statements  have  included                                                               
support  for   full  forward  funding  of   education  foundation                                                               
programs,  school  bond   debt  reimbursement,  and  construction                                                               
MR.  ANDREASSEN  said  AML remains  committed  to  giving  school                                                               
districts the  lead time needed  to recruit and  retain qualified                                                               
and  high-performing teachers  and opposes  reductions to  school                                                               
funding  or  school  bond  debt  reimbursement.  He  said  sudden                                                               
alternations  in funding  and dramatic  shifts in  funding levels                                                               
cause  havoc as  districts try  to implement  programs and  local                                                               
governments try  to respond. Thus, funding  stability is required                                                               
for the adequate  management of school districts.  He pointed out                                                               
that billions  of state and  local dollars have been  expended on                                                               
educational  infrastructure  and  sudden  reductions  in  funding                                                               
inevitably  cause the  deferral of  maintenance for  such massive                                                               
investments.  This increases  the eventual  price tag  when minor                                                               
maintenance issues become critical failures.                                                                                    
MR. ANDREASSEN  said AML cannot  comment on whether SJR  9 should                                                               
be a  constitutional amendment  or a  statutory change,  but they                                                               
are advocating for  something to be done to shift  the state from                                                               
uncertainty  and conflict  towards  sustainable, affordable,  and                                                               
predictable solutions. Such solutions cannot  come at the cost of                                                               
student  achievement. They  should be  implemented over  time and                                                               
should correspond  to local conditions, planning,  and negotiated                                                               
agreements. At  the local  level and  for school  districts, this                                                               
resolution  is  a  critical  step  toward  improving  educational                                                               
attainment in  Alaska. This  improves municipalities'  ability to                                                               
budget accordingly and plan for  increases or reductions to local                                                               
school districts.  He highlighted that  there is a wide  range in                                                               
the ability of local governments  to respond to funding increases                                                               
or decrements. One  borough recently pointed out that  there is a                                                               
six-month  lag   between  a  state  decision   that  affects  the                                                               
borough's budget and their ability to  implement a tax to make up                                                               
the difference. He said local  taxes can shift according to local                                                               
need and SJR 9 builds on this responsiveness.                                                                                   
10:06:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BIRCH asked  if  he could  speak to  the  status of  the                                                               
Teacher Retirement  System (TRS)  and Public  Employee Retirement                                                               
System (PERS) liability from a community standpoint.                                                                            
Mr.  ANDREASSEN replied  the  TRS and  PERS  issue is  critically                                                               
important  and a  component  of education  funding.  He said  his                                                               
understanding  is  that  municipalities are  challenged  by  this                                                               
issue. PERS affects 64 of  the 165 municipalities AML represents.                                                               
He said he doesn't know  the number of school districts affected.                                                               
It  is  a  large  percentage of  district  and  local  government                                                               
budgets. Right  sizing a  budget in response  to a  state funding                                                               
decision doesn't take away any  of those liabilities. A reduction                                                               
in  the  state  workforce  increases   the  overall  net  pension                                                               
liability  for  all  employers  and  municipalities  make  up  18                                                               
percent  of that  employer base.  State reductions  or reductions                                                               
across the  employer pool  add to the  net pension  liability and                                                               
overall  the  unfunded  liability,   which  increases  the  state                                                               
contribution or  on behalf payment.  He said it is  a significant                                                               
issue. School  districts or local  governments are  challenged to                                                               
anticipate increases in  health care costs and  the state pension                                                               
system is similarly challenged.  AML's perspective is that health                                                               
care increases within  the pension system have  been the greatest                                                               
destabilizer to PERS and TRS over the last 20 years.                                                                            
SENATOR BIRCH  said he  looked forward to  working together  on a                                                               
10:09:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SARAH  SLEDGE, Director,  Coalition for  Education Equity  (CEE),                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, said CEE's mission  is to champion an adequate                                                               
and equitable  public education  for every  Alaskan child.  A top                                                               
priority  is   adequate  state  investment  in   Alaska's  public                                                               
education system.  This includes  ensuring that  public education                                                               
funding  is reliable  and that  funding decisions  are made  in a                                                               
timely manner to enable school  districts to plan efficiently and                                                               
responsibly. SJR 9 puts students  first by removing the financial                                                               
uncertainty  schools have  faced year  after year  throughout the                                                               
budgeting  process  and  is critical  for  ensuring  a  long-term                                                               
fiscal plan  for public  education. She  said CEE  is continually                                                               
asking school  districts to plan and  budget effectively, looking                                                               
for efficiencies where possible.                                                                                                
MS. SLEDGE  said that the  Alaska Association of  School Business                                                               
Officials  (ALASBO)  testified  last  year about  the  ways  that                                                               
school districts are  able to plan budgets  more efficiently when                                                               
they  have advance  knowledge of  the budget.  They can  look for                                                               
contracts,  budget travel,  and hire  teachers. She  related that                                                               
when  she worked  with United  Way  of Anchorage,  she worked  on                                                               
research  around protective  factors  and  children outcomes.  It                                                               
correlates  certain protective  factors  with positive  behaviors                                                               
and academic outcomes in students.  The top protective factor for                                                               
students is  a supportive adult relationship.  That correlates to                                                               
positive  behaviors like  attending  school,  better grades,  and                                                               
decreases in  risk factors  such as  depression and  suicide. She                                                               
highlighted  that this  is an  increasing concern,  especially in                                                               
the rural areas of Alaska.                                                                                                      
MS. SLEDGE  said that most  school districts that  she represents                                                               
are  rural  and have  just  a  handful  of teachers.  Mr.  Parker                                                               
mentioned  how   difficult  it  can   be  to  build   that  trust                                                               
relationship with  young people.  But in  some of  those schools,                                                               
those  relationships  are built  quickly,  and  children come  to                                                               
depend on  their teachers for  that support. When  those teachers                                                               
leave year  after year,  it is devastating  to the  students. She                                                               
emphasized that  increasing teacher retention is  critical to the                                                               
success of these kids.                                                                                                          
MS. SLEDGE said  any effort to stabilize K-12  funding will allow                                                               
public  schools  to  budget effectively  and  efficiently,  which                                                               
leads to greater ability to  recruit and retain quality educators                                                               
and  greater  capacity  to focus  on  maintaining  and  improving                                                               
quality instruction for Alaskan children.                                                                                       
SENATOR  BIRCH  noted that  later  today  another committee  will                                                               
consider  telemedicine.   He  asked  her  perspective   of  using                                                               
distance learning in rural areas for K-12.                                                                                      
MS. SLEDGE  replied that some  school districts  are successfully                                                               
using  a  video  teleconferencing   model  to  expand  curricular                                                               
options in the smaller villages.  She emphasized that it does not                                                               
replace having an  adult in the classroom, but it  can expand the                                                               
content that is provided.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  BEGICH   asked  about   the  limits  on   broadband  and                                                               
connectivity in  rural villages, which create  obstacles for that                                                               
type of learning.                                                                                                               
MS. SLEDGE  replied that  many communities  don't have  access to                                                               
the  broadband needed  for video  teleconferencing. Others  might                                                               
have  the bandwidth,  but  it is  another  budgeting concern  for                                                               
school  districts to  get access  to the  bandwidth needed  to do                                                               
video teleconferencing.                                                                                                         
SENATOR HUGHES said she has a  bill for that and the senator from                                                               
Bethel has  a broadband  funding bill, which  is timely  and will                                                               
open  opportunities,   help  with  the  teacher   shortages,  and                                                               
increase  academic  learning.  She  thanked Ms.  Sledge  for  her                                                               
insights. She commented that there  are pockets of excellence and                                                               
some districts  do a  phenomenal job,  but overall  the statewide                                                               
academic performance is lacking. The  legislature has work to do,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
10:17:21 AM                                                                                                                   
TAMMY  SMITH,  State  Director, National  Education  Association-                                                               
Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska,  said that she is a  teacher on spring                                                               
break and  thrilled to be  in Juneau  because this is  so timely.                                                               
She  emphasized that  districts need  to be  able to  plan ahead.                                                               
Being  able  to  recruit  and  retain  teachers  is  critical  to                                                               
students  and  to  improve  student  learning.  She  related  how                                                               
traumatic it  was to  receive pink  slips as  a young  teacher in                                                               
1989, 1990,  and 1991.  She considered  leaving Alaska.  She said                                                               
when  she  was  pink  slipped   in  the  past,  there  were  many                                                               
applicants  for  positions  and  now that  isn't  the  case.  The                                                               
shortage of  teachers is real  across the country. For  Alaska to                                                               
sustain  the   education  environment  it  is   necessary  to  be                                                               
MS.  SMITH  said  she  also wanted  to  address  Senator  Birch's                                                               
comment  about  using  technology  for  distance  education.  She                                                               
suggested the  committee ask students how  it feels to be  put in                                                               
front  of computers  before looking  at  technology as  a way  to                                                               
support districts.  She is  a special  education teacher  for K-8                                                               
students who struggle  with reading, writing, and  math. They get                                                               
tired of being  in front of a computer too  long. They like being                                                               
with a teacher.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if she  would say that distance  learning is                                                               
valuable in  some cases  but doesn't fit  all situations  and all                                                               
MS. SMITH answered absolutely.                                                                                                  
10:24:10 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BIRCH asked what year she received her first pink slip.                                                                 
MS. SMITH replied in 1989 or 1990.                                                                                              
SENATOR BIRCH said he remembers that.                                                                                           
MS. SMITH noted he was on the borough assembly at that time.                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS thanked her for persevering and staying in Alaska.                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  referenced  earlier  discussion  about  distance                                                               
learning and  explained it related  to a bipartisan  omnibus bill                                                               
the  legislature  worked  on  the   last  two  years  to  improve                                                               
education. The  testimony in Florida  and New York made  it clear                                                               
that a  capable teacher  must be  in the  room and  that distance                                                               
learning  is   for  bringing  content  experts   that  would  not                                                               
otherwise  be  available.  It  is never  the  intent  to  replace                                                               
classroom teachers. That  was said on the record  many times. The                                                               
idea was always to enhance  the classroom as opposed to replacing                                                               
classroom teachers.                                                                                                             
SENATOR BIRCH  commented that his  children got a great  start in                                                               
school  as  Pearl  Creek  Puffins in  the  Fairbanks  North  Star                                                               
MS. SMITH said her students were the Nordale Tigers.                                                                            
10:26:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRISTINE VILLANO,  National Education  Association (NEA)-Alaska,                                                               
Fairbanks,  Alaska,  supported  SJR  9. She  said  she  has  been                                                               
involved in  education for 40  years. She taught in  Saint Mary's                                                               
in  rural  Alaska  and  later  in  Fairbanks,  mostly  at  Denali                                                               
Elementary.  As a  young  mother she  advocated  with the  Parent                                                               
Teacher  Association to  Senator  Birch who  was  on the  borough                                                               
assembly  to rebuild  and keep  Joy School.  She said  she has  a                                                               
passion  for  education as  a  parent,  grandparent, and  teacher                                                               
leader.  She noted  that  one of  her  daughters teaches  special                                                               
education in Shishmaref and one  is a scientist at the University                                                               
of Alaska Fairbanks and does outreach in classrooms.                                                                            
MS. VILLANO said  that in her experience,  budget stability leads                                                               
districts and educators  to focus on the core  mission of student                                                               
success  and  support. As  a  village  teacher,  it is  not  only                                                               
important to build  relationships with kids, but  also with their                                                               
families  and the  community.  That  is true  in  towns also.  In                                                               
Fairbanks  she  sees people  she  has  known for  years.  Senator                                                               
Kawasaki  came  to   her  Girl  Scout  troop   with  his  sister.                                                               
Relationships are  the core  of good education.  When she  was at                                                               
Denali, she started teaching kids  of kids. They knew and trusted                                                               
her.  She was  pink slipped  as  a beginning  educator. It  makes                                                               
people want to  quit and leave the state or  profession. Now with                                                               
the  teacher  shortage,  the  best   and  brightest  will  leave,                                                               
especially as there  is not a good retirement system.  One of the                                                               
teachers of the year, who she has  known since he was a kid, told                                                               
her he is going  to leave Alaska because he does  not have a good                                                               
retirement. He is  in his mid-30s and that gives  her concern for                                                               
the future  of Alaska. When  she was  pink slipped, she  was very                                                               
worried and  concerned, and  that ripples down  to kids.  That is                                                               
why she supports SJR 9.                                                                                                         
SENATOR BIRCH  said teachers achieve  tenure on the first  day of                                                               
the  fourth year.  He  asked  if pink  slips  are  only given  to                                                               
nontenured teachers.                                                                                                            
MS. VILLANO  said her understanding  is that  nontenured teachers                                                               
are pink  slipped first  and then tenured  teachers can  get pink                                                               
10:38:15 AM                                                                                                                   
ERIC  PETERSON,  President,   Alaska  Association  of  Elementary                                                               
School  Principals;  Principal,  Paul  Banks  Elementary  School,                                                               
Homer,  Alaska, supported  SJR 9.  He said  early funding  is the                                                               
most  important topic  in  the budget  discussion.  He has  three                                                               
teachers without contracts  for next year because  of not knowing                                                               
what the funding will be for next  year. His fear is that he will                                                               
lose  them.  As a  principal,  he  invests  a  lot into  his  new                                                               
teachers, but they may be taking  those skills and knowledge to a                                                               
new city  or state. If funding  does come after he  has dismissed                                                               
these teachers, he fears he will  be hiring in the summer. In the                                                               
past when  he has had to  hire in the summer,  the candidate pool                                                               
got  shallow very  quickly. Most  importantly, without  knowledge                                                               
about funding and  who will be teaching in the  school, he cannot                                                               
build classrooms for  next year. That pushes all  that work until                                                               
the fall. He  loses a window of opportunity for  his students. He                                                               
has  a  Title  1  school   with  high-needs  students.  They  are                                                               
deliberate  about who  they  put  where. When  he  knows who  the                                                               
teachers are,  they can start  building relationships  with those                                                               
high-needs  students.  That  practice reduces  fear  in  students                                                               
because they  know where they  will be  next year. His  school is                                                               
also a  special education magnet  school with  an intensive-needs                                                               
preschool. In the  spring there are transition  meetings. When he                                                               
has early  funding, they can  meet with parents and  build teams.                                                               
It helps  relationships and builds  trust. Many teachers  will do                                                               
activities  in summer  and invite  those students.  People assume                                                               
the school year starts in the  fall, but it starts in the spring.                                                               
From a  principal's standpoint, not  being able to  answer parent                                                               
and community questions  doesn't allow him to  build trusting and                                                               
relationships as much  as he would like. He  asks the legislature                                                               
to fund school districts early.                                                                                                 
10:42:04 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID NEESE, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, supported SJR                                                               
9. He  said it is  a good  component because it  reinforces Judge                                                               
Sharon  Gleason's  comments in  the  Moore  vs. State  of  Alaska                                                               
decision that education in Alaska is  K-12 in nature. That is not                                                               
in the  constitution. With mandatory  education beginning  at age                                                               
seven, it is  important to clarify that. He  said the information                                                               
in the  bill packet  is eye  opening. The  history of  the budget                                                               
shows that for  the most part the legislature has  missed the May                                                               
1 date that  this proposes. The main problem is  AS 14.14.060, as                                                               
Dr.  Parady  pointed  out,  which   requires  the  budget  to  be                                                               
submitted by May  1. He said the  big problem is there  is a hold                                                               
harmless clause  for funding  schools, but  not for  teachers. It                                                               
would  solve  the  problem  to  put a  hold  harm  clause  in  AS                                                               
14.14.060  that districts  will  have to  continue sending  their                                                               
state funding into the teacher  positions. Moving to a later date                                                               
would also work,  but it's been pointed out that  the school year                                                               
ends in  May and  many teachers  are looking  for where  they are                                                               
going to be next  year so the decisions in June  on rehire is not                                                               
good. Pink  slips could  be eliminated by  added a  hold harmless                                                               
clause  that said  if the  budget is  not resolved  by a  certain                                                               
date, school  districts will  keep employing  people in  the same                                                               
round as  last year.  He said he  appreciated the  testimony from                                                               
the people in the education industry.  He asked if any members of                                                               
the  committee  received  funds  from NEA.  If  so,  they  should                                                               
declare a conflict.  He said he is pleased  that Senator Costello                                                               
brought  this forward  to make  sure that  the constitution  says                                                               
that education is K-12.                                                                                                         
CHAIR STEVENS stated that he  did not receive campaign funds from                                                               
NEA in his last election.                                                                                                       
10:46:00 AM                                                                                                                   
DIANNE SHIBE, President,  Matanuska-Susitna Education Association                                                               
(MSEA),  Wasilla,  Alaska,  supported  SJR 9.  She  said  forward                                                               
funding is an  anomaly in this state. That  makes this resolution                                                               
imperative to  reduce the  guessing game and  the chaos  that too                                                               
often  ensues in  districts every  spring. This  uncertainty does                                                               
not  help  make  teaching  an  attractive  profession,  which  is                                                               
essential  to  improving  the  education   system  in  Alaska  so                                                               
districts  stop  losing  teachers   and  incurring  the  cost  of                                                               
constant  recruitment.  Those  funds  could  be  going  into  the                                                               
10:46:53 AM                                                                                                                   
DAN CARSTENS,  President, Alaska Association of  Secondary School                                                               
Principals;  Principal,  Nikiski   Middle-High  School,  Nikiski,                                                               
Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said he  experiences the  need for                                                               
forward funding on  a yearly basis. The reality of  pink slips is                                                               
that if a  contract is not offered to a  nontenured teacher, they                                                               
automatically receive  a contract on  their last day of  work, so                                                               
what happens is by the middle  of May, they will receive a letter                                                               
saying they  are nonretained due  to cause or nonretained  due to                                                               
budget. Right now  a lot of teachers will not  be retained due to                                                               
budget. Most  of those teachers do  not come back once  they have                                                               
left the  state. His district  must submit  a budget by  April or                                                               
the board meeting  the first of May. Historically  his school has                                                               
not received a budget from the  state by then. School requests to                                                               
the  borough to  fund to  the  cap are  sometimes successful  and                                                               
sometimes  not.  Principals  then  have  the  task  of  preparing                                                               
different  scenarios with  different  pupil-teacher ratios.  They                                                               
prepare  an initial  budget  with no  idea if  that  will be  the                                                               
actual budget.  When nontenured teachers leave,  tenured teachers                                                               
often end  up teaching  in content areas  they are  not certified                                                               
in. This is permissible because as  long as a teacher is teaching                                                               
over 50 percent  in their content area, the teacher  can teach in                                                               
other areas if working toward certification in that area.                                                                       
MR. CARSTENS said  every spring kids are asked  what classes they                                                               
want to  take next year, but  there is no guarantee  of what they                                                               
will be able to offer. Students  have to make five or six choices                                                               
which  makes  it  difficult to  schedule  fall  classes.  Forward                                                               
funding would let schools know what  they are looking at and what                                                               
staff they  will have. That  is huge for planning  for subsequent                                                               
years, he said.                                                                                                                 
10:51:52 AM                                                                                                                   
SHAWN  ARNOLD,  Superintendent,   Valdez  City  Schools,  Valdez,                                                               
Alaska, supported  SJR 9. He  said he is also  president-elect of                                                               
the  Alaska Superintendents  Association. He  reported that  ISER                                                               
research from last year shows that  it costs a district a minimum                                                               
of  $20,000  for  every  teacher turnover.  He  saw  that  impact                                                               
firsthand when he  was superintendent of Nome  public schools for                                                               
four years. The average turnover  rate for the district was about                                                               
ten to 15 teachers a year, which was a significant cost.                                                                        
MR. ARNOLD  said he does a  lot of research into  other education                                                               
systems.  Many comparisons  are made  to Finland,  and one  thing                                                               
Finland  does right  is  to forward  fund.  That makes  education                                                               
funding predictable  and timely. There  is no discussion  of cuts                                                               
every  year.   A  general  principle  in   effective  funding  of                                                               
education systems  across the  globe is  ensuring that  funds are                                                               
allocated  in a  transparent and  predictable way.  The value  of                                                               
predictability for Alaska school  districts cannot be overstated.                                                               
When  funding  levels  are obscure,  complicated,  and  unstable,                                                               
districts are forced  into bad behaviors. It takes  more than two                                                               
to three months to comprehensively  evaluate spending, reflect on                                                               
progress, and  develop new budgets,  yet districts are  forced to                                                               
wait  for final  cuts  to  be handed  down  from the  legislature                                                               
before their local budgets can be finalized.                                                                                    
MR.  ARNOLD  said  that  if   districts  are  expected  to  spend                                                               
responsibly, they need to be  given the time to plan accordingly.                                                               
Equally important, legislators need  the ability to project state                                                               
investments  years into  the future  for  sound debt  management.                                                               
Strategic  thinking   and  long-term  planning  are   central  to                                                               
successful  governance  of  complex  education  systems.  Timely,                                                               
reliable,  and  predictable  funding  of  future  resource  needs                                                               
ensures the education system  long-term fiscal sustainability and                                                               
development of clear implementation  paths for education reforms,                                                               
such  as the  Alaska  Education  Challenge. Forecasting  resource                                                               
needs  in education  involves anticipating  developments and  the                                                               
demand  for  services  across   different  education  levels  and                                                               
sectors  as well  as their  implications for  human, pedagogical,                                                               
fiscal   and  financial   resource   needs.   By  providing   for                                                               
predictable funding for K-12  schools, legislatures are investing                                                               
in the  economic future of the  state and the future  of Alaska's                                                               
10:56:44 AM                                                                                                                   
PETE  HOEPFNER, School  Board  Member,  Cordova School  District,                                                               
Cordova, Alaska,  supported SJR  9. He  said creating  a separate                                                               
education budget will let school  districts budget with certainty                                                               
and  predictability. In  the past,  education was  forward funded                                                               
for multiple  years. At  one point districts  had three  years of                                                               
forward funding.  Over the last  few years education  funding has                                                               
not  been  determined  until  late in  the  session,  leading  to                                                               
uncertainty. The present  teacher shortage in the  nation and the                                                               
uncertainty   in  Alaska   does   not  create   a  healthy   work                                                               
environment. School districts need reliable and known funding.                                                                  
10:58:05 AM                                                                                                                   
ROY  GETCHELL,  Superintendent,  Haines Borough  School  District                                                               
(HBSD) ,  Haines, Alaska, supported  SJR 9.  He said Haines  is a                                                               
Title 1  school, but one  of the  highest performing ones  in the                                                               
state.  One  of  the  reasons  is  that  they  have  high-quality                                                               
teachers  who have  been  there  a while.  In  Haines and  across                                                               
Alaska, kids  are in classrooms  and teachers are  teaching while                                                               
the debates  go on about  their future. The yearly  angst created                                                               
by not knowing what programs will  be cut or funded, jobs lost or                                                               
gained, strategic plans implemented or  shelved, is a dilemma for                                                               
school districts.  It is impossible  to properly plan, it  is bad                                                               
for morale, and it requires  reaction vs. strategy. Putting aside                                                               
the devastating cuts,  SJR 9 would help HBSD's  strategic plan to                                                               
hire another  math teacher  to give  high school  students higher                                                               
level options.  That aligns with  what the governor  talked about                                                               
in his campaign and with  the Alaska Education Challenge. But due                                                               
to the  funding uncertainty  the district  faces, that  option is                                                               
off the  table. He  shared that  in 1991 he  was at  Captain Cook                                                               
Hotel at  the Alaska teacher  job fair with 3,500  other teachers                                                               
and he  didn't get a job.  He said this is  his first opportunity                                                               
to work in  Alaska and he is privileged to  be here. Before being                                                               
hired  in  Haines,  he  worked   overseas  for  the  United  Arab                                                               
Emirates. That country  is probably importing a  thousand or more                                                               
American  teachers a  year.  That pales  in  comparison to  other                                                               
countries who  value American training and  are promoting English                                                               
within their  own systems.  Thus, Alaska  is facing  a two-headed                                                               
monster  of predictable  funding and  being able  to recruit  and                                                               
retain the best.                                                                                                                
11:01:11 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICK    MAYER,   President,    Alaska   Council    of   School                                                               
Administrators  (ACSA); Superintendent,  Yakutat School  District                                                               
(YSD),  Yakutat,  Alaska,   supported  SJR  9.  He   said  it  is                                                               
exceedingly  important  for  school  districts  to  have  timely,                                                               
reliable,  and predictable  revenue for  schools. This  is a  key                                                               
component  in  ACSA's  2019   joint  position  statement.  School                                                               
districts  cannot  operate  efficiently and  effectively  without                                                               
knowing  their revenues.  For example,  Yakutat  and other  small                                                               
school districts operate on a  thin financial margin. Yakutat has                                                               
just one  teaching position  to fill  this year,  but that  is 16                                                               
percent of  their certified  staff. It is  difficult to  make the                                                               
decision to go  forward with that hire because  of the governor's                                                               
budget  proposal  and the  fact  that  staff  costs make  up  the                                                               
majority  of a  school district's  budget. The  current situation                                                               
suggests a particularly protracted  timeframe for budget finality                                                               
and now  is the hiring  season. He said  YSD has decided  to roll                                                               
the dice  and try  to hire  the one teacher,  but they  are aware                                                               
that the  decision comes with  some risk. He asked  the committee                                                               
and  legislature  to take  the  issue  of timely,  reliable,  and                                                               
predictable funding  seriously. Early notification of  funding is                                                               
crucial to  sound financial management  as well as  to recruiting                                                               
and   retaining   quality    educators.   Stabilizing   districts                                                               
budgetarily  will improve  student achievement.  He said  he also                                                               
wanted  to note  that the  bandwidth disparity  is a  huge equity                                                               
issue in  the state.  He concluded  that getting  rural districts                                                               
enhanced bandwidth would be phenomenal.                                                                                         
11:04:50 AM                                                                                                                   
JILL SHOWMAN,  representing self,  Palmer, Alaska,  supported SJR                                                               
9. She  said she is a  teacher who is not  concerned about losing                                                               
her  position,  but several  of  her  colleagues are.  Nontenured                                                               
teachers get  nervous this time  of year because they  don't know                                                               
if they  will have a  position next  year. Mat-Su will  not issue                                                               
contracts to  nontenured teachers  until the  budget is  set. The                                                               
anxiety of the  new teachers is real and  affects their community                                                               
and comes  into the classroom.  She said  she moved from  Iowa in                                                               
1997 and was pink slipped three years  in a row when she lived on                                                               
the Kenai Peninsula.  She chose to stay, but  others left because                                                               
there was  no guarantee  of a  job the  next school  year. Alaska                                                               
lost a  lot of great  teachers then and  can't afford to  do that                                                               
now, particularly with  the uncertainty at UAA.  She related that                                                               
she also taught an elementary  education class for the University                                                               
of Alaska Southeast about a decade  ago. At that time the highest                                                               
enrollment in her class, which  was the last curricular class for                                                               
teachers entering  elementary education, was  12 to 13.  She said                                                               
Alaska already  has to  recruit teachers  from Outside  and those                                                               
candidates also must be retained.  It is easier to retain current                                                               
staff  than  recruit  new candidates.  She  agreed  with  earlier                                                               
testimony that  Alaska is  not only competing  with the  U.S. but                                                               
with international schools.                                                                                                     
CHAIR STEVENS  said the UAA  regents are considering the  loss of                                                               
accreditation now and  he is convinced they will  find a solution                                                               
by using  other campuses while  working to get  UAA accreditation                                                               
11:08:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CONNIE  NEWMAN,  Superintendent,  Iditarod Area  School  District                                                               
(IASD), McGrath, Alaska, supported SJR  9. She said Iditarod is a                                                               
Regional  Education  Attendance  Area  in the  heart  of  Alaska.                                                               
Forward  funding enhances  recruitment  and  retention of  highly                                                               
qualified staff,  supporting student success in  school and life.                                                               
She  shared that  she  was  pink slipped  in  her  first year  in                                                               
education  in  Idaho  and  she  left  and  did  not  return.  She                                                               
described the challenge of teacher  turnover in the Iditarod Area                                                               
School District. IASD started recruiting  in January and February                                                               
last  year  to  get  their   staff.  They  anticipate  losing  11                                                               
positions,  which  is  more  than  54  percent  of  the  district                                                               
teaching staff.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR STEVENS  commented that a  remarkable number  of testifiers                                                               
have experienced the anxiety of being pink slipped.                                                                             
11:09:59 AM                                                                                                                   
BRIDGET  WEISS,  Ph.D.,  Superintendent, Juneau  School  District                                                               
(JSD), Juneau,  Alaska, supported  SJR 9. She  said she  was born                                                               
and raised in Juneau. She spent  the first 26 years of her career                                                               
in  Washington. She  came back  to  Alaska and  was principal  of                                                               
North Pole  High School for  four years. She brought  teachers on                                                               
board who  worked effectively with  existing staff  and energized                                                               
that system.  She was put  in a position of  sitting face-to-face                                                               
with new, effective  teachers and telling them they  might not be                                                               
back  in August.  That  was very  detrimental  to young  teachers                                                               
starting  their   careers.  Before  becoming   superintendent  in                                                               
Juneau,  she  was director  of  student  services in  Juneau  and                                                               
supported  the  special  education program.  Looking  at  teacher                                                               
openings in  the state shows  that year after year  districts are                                                               
desperate to  fill special  education positions.  That is  one of                                                               
the most challenging and crucial  positions to fill. That type of                                                               
vulnerability makes  it hard  to recruit. For  a whole  family to                                                               
move, there must be a perspective  of state stability. SJR 9 is a                                                               
critical  lifeline  to make  that  possible.  There are  so  many                                                               
interconnected  pieces  and  critical  overlays.  Attracting  and                                                               
retaining quality educators  is strongly tied to this.  It is one                                                               
of the  Juneau's school  board initiatives.  It is  a legislative                                                               
priority for  the administrators' association. It  is critical to                                                               
work being  done around  student achievement  in Alaska.  Most of                                                               
the  school  districts  in  Washington  increased  their  teacher                                                               
salaries  from five  to 18  percent  through legislative  action.                                                               
That makes  it harder for  Alaska to compete. She  emphasized the                                                               
importance of having a desirable  economic environment to provide                                                               
the opportunities for  people to come and fill  these most needed                                                               
positions.  What is  done in  education is  the lifeline  for the                                                               
future  and economy  of the  state. Like  herself, many  students                                                               
return  to Alaska  and contribute  to their  communities and  the                                                               
11:14:48 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
[CHAIR STEVENS held SJR 9 in committee.]                                                                                        
11:15:05 AM                                                                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Stevens  adjourned the Senate Education  Standing Committee                                                               
meeting at 11:15 a.m.                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_BillText_VersionA.PDF SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
02_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SponsorStatement_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
04_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote01_DEED_Foundation.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
05_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_FiscalNote02_DEED_PubEdFund.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
06_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Constitutional References.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
07_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_AK Budget Passage History_22Jan2018.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
08_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_Ed Budget Timelines_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
09_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_LAA Legal Memo_19Feb2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
10_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_Research_CAEPR_Teacher Turnover Costs.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
11_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_Costello_Press Release_06March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
12_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_ASCA_08March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
13_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_AASB_11March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 11
14_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportLetter_NEA_12March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM
15_SJR9_EarlyEdFunding_SupportEmails_13March2019.pdf SEDC 3/14/2019 9:00:00 AM
SJUD 4/10/2019 1:30:00 PM