Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106
03/28/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION
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|Presentation: Alaska Board of Education & Early Development Annual Report|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE JOINT MEETING HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE March 28, 2019 9:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair Representative Chris Tuck Representative Josh Revak SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Senator Gary Stevens, Chair Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair Senator Chris Birch Senator Mia Costello Senator Tom Begich MEMBERS ABSENT HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Representative Grier Hopkins Representative Tiffany Zulkosky Representative DeLena Johnson COMMITTEE CALENDAR PRESENTATION: ALASKA BOARD OF EDUCATION & EARLY DEVELOPMENT ANNUAL REPORT - HEARD PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION No previous action to record WITNESS REGISTER JAMES FIELDS, Chair State Board of Education & Early Development Department of Education and Early Development Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented a summary of the State Board of Education & Early Development's 2018 annual report. KEITH HAMILTON, Ph.D., First Vice Chair State Board of Education & Early Development Department of Education and Early Development Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented testimony regarding the Department of Education and Early Development budget. MICHAEL JOHNSON, Ph.D., Commissioner Department of Education and Early Development Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented testimony during the presentation of the department's annual report. ACTION NARRATIVE 9:00:22 AM CHAIR STEVENS called the joint meeting of the House Education Standing Committee and the Senate Education Standing Committee to order at 9:00 a.m. Present at the call to order from the House Education Standing Committee were Representatives Revak, Story, and Drummond. Representative Tuck arrived as the meeting was in progress. Present from the Senate Education Standing Committee were Senators Birch, Hughes, Costello, Begich, and Stevens. ^PRESENTATION: Alaska Board of Education & Early Development Annual Report PRESENTATION: Alaska Board of Education & Early Development Annual Report [Contains discussion of HB 24] CHAIR STEVENS announced that the only order of business would be a presentation of the Alaska Board of Education & Early Development Annual Report. 9:02:10 AM JAMES FIELDS, Chair, State Board of Education & Early Development, Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) stated that he would summarize the "State Board of Education and Early Development Annual Report to the Alaska State Legislature.He began by introducing the members of the State Board of Education and Early Development then reading the following mission statement for public education in Alaska: Mission: An excellent education for every student every day. MR. FIELDS shared the board's five strategic priorities: • Amplify student learning • Inspire tribal and community ownership of educational excellence • Modernize the education system • Ensure excellent educators • Promote safety and well-being MR. FIELDS described the following list of measurable goals for public education in Alaska: • Support all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade • Increase career, technical, and culturally relevant education to meet student and workforce needs • Close the achievement gap by ensuring equitable educational rigor and resources • Prepare, attract, and retain effective education professionals • Improve the safety and well-being of students through school partnerships with families, communities, and tribes MR. FIELDS discussed some highlights from page 4 of the report, focusing on the need for world language expertise in the classroom. 9:05:29 AM MR. FIELDS moved to page 8 of the report and highlighted the topic, "School Safety Program.He explained that the acts of school violence in 2018 served as a catalyst for schools to bolster crisis preparedness and safety programing. Additional safety measures were implemented this year to meet the expectations of parents that their children will be safe at school each and every day. He said this was even more important to parents than providing each student with an excellent education every day. 9:06:15 AM MR. FIELDS read the final paragraph at the bottom of page 9, which read as follows: Alaska's Education Challenge established three priority strategies to advance its commitment to "Cultivate Safety and Well-Being". They include increasing the implementation of trauma-engaged practices in schools, increasing positive school climate, and increasing direct access to school-based nursing and counseling services for all students. DEED [Department of Education and Early Development] has partnered with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Education Northwest Comprehensive Center to create formal goals and action steps to implement these priority strategies between now and 2025. 9:06:55 AM MR. FIELDS directed attention to page 11 and the topic of "Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). He shared that Alaska's plan to implement the Act was approved by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. This approval was required for Alaska to continue to receive approximately $80 million in federal funding each year to support public schools in Alaska. MR. FIELDS read the following highlights of Alaska's ESSA plan: • Setting goals for each school and district to reduce the number of non-proficient students by half in ten years, for all student groups • Providing flexibility for the State and districts to target strategies for school improvement based on the unique needs of each school • Measuring and rewarding both academic performance and growth for all students • Reporting rates of chronic student absenteeism to encourage statewide discussions about its impacts on student learning • Reporting per-pupil spending at the school and district level to increase financial transparency MR. FIELDS briefly reviewed the topic "Other Department Functions." Entities housed under the department include Mt. Edgecumbe High School; Alaska State Council on the Arts; the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums; and Professional Teaching Practices Commission. MR. FIELDS concluded the report summary by sharing student data on graduation and dropout rates from page 15. This shows 4-year graduation rates increasing from 68 percent in 2011 to 78.5 percent in 2018. He described this as the right trajectory. 9:09:26 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked how the goals and projects of the State Board of Education & Early Development could be achieved with the governor's budget cuts to DEED. MR. FIELDS replied that for himself it's an opportunity to continue to move Alaska's education challenges forward, but without a budget he could only commit to doing his best. 9:11:07 AM SENATOR BIRCH asked if he was aware of the conflicting testimony about the percent of education funding that goes towards the classroom. The committee heard credible testimony that 75 percent of education funding went to the classroom but anecdotal reports indicate that only 50 percent of the dollars spent on public education go into the classroom. He asked Mr. Fields if he a sense of which end of the spectrum was accurate. MR. FIELDS replied that he had not looked specifically at those statewide numbers. He related that in his school district, which is an REAA, about 68 percent of the public education money goes to the classroom. 9:12:34 AM SENATOR BEGICH explained that the difference in the numbers can be attributed to an apples and oranges comparison. The administration counted more than direct classroom instruction to come up with the 70 percent number. He noted that the superintendents had clarified that point. SENATOR BEHICH highlighted that the board is quasi-independent and is charged with writing its own budget. He asked whether the board intended to write its own budget next year instead of accepting the budget presented by the governor. MR. FIELDS replied that he was recently presented with a memo from Assistant Attorney General Luann Weyhrauch that stated the board's vote in approving the budget crafted by the Office of the Governor was simply symbolic. Therefore, the board has no real way to affect the budget. SENATOR BEGICH noted that his request for a copy of the memo had thus far gone unanswered. He then asked, "If it's just symbolic, why do we have a board of education? 9:16:16 AM KEITH HAMILTON, Ph.D., First Vice Chair, State Board of Education & Early Development, Department of Education & Early Development, replied to Senator Begich that during his time on the board they were asked to "check off" the DEED budget. He read the following line from the memo from Luann Weyhrauch: Such a vote would solely be a symbolic statement in light of the governor's responsibility under the Alaska constitution." He said he wished the board had more input in the process, but it was not given that opportunity. 9:18:09 AM SENATOR BEGICH discussed his service on the Juvenile Justice Commission under five governors. When a governor in his party made decisions about juvenile justice that was not informed by the group, he asked that governor to either allow the committee to exercise its responsibility or ask the committee to leave. In that case, the governor relented and allowed the committee to fulfill its responsibilities. He asked that the State Board of Education & Early Development exercise direction, provide the legislature guidance, and continue to do so even in the face of resistance. DR. HAMILTON responded that the State Board of Education & Early Development was one of the DEED commissioner's supervisory groups. He explained that once the commissioner has a budget the board would encourage him to work and succeed with whatever funding was allocated. 9:21:33 AM CHAIR STEVENS requested copies of the Department of Law memo for committee members. He stated that the legislature looks to the State Board of Education & Early Development for leadership in K-12 education and hearing the actions of the board called symbolic was shocking. He highlighted the concerns around the table about how the board was being treated. "I'm a little disappointed in where we are as a state, at this point, if that is the case, he said. 9:22:32 AM SENATOR HUGHES, commenting that she would like to see more dollars channeled toward classrooms, implored the board to trim expenses outside of the classroom. 9:25:34 AM MR. FIELDS agreed that classroom funding was important and discussed using positive peer pressure to influence school districts to keep funding in the classroom. 9:27:27 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND stated that the funding for education was secure for the next fiscal year unless the legislature decided to make a change. She added that she had read a great deal about the transparency of the State Board of Education & Early Development but was not impressed with how little information had been forthcoming from recent board minutes. She commented that if the State Board of Education & Early Development's involvement in the budget process is strictly symbolic, then DEED needs to become more involved in the budget process. She expressed hope that the board would look at the impact of fewer adults in schools and the effects on safety of the students. She also voiced concern about the ability of school districts to prepare, attract, and maintain effective education professionals. She expressed hope the board would take a much larger role in developing a budget next year. 9:32:39 AM CHAIR STEVENS read the following from a letter dated March 27, to Dr. Michael Johnson, from Assistant Attorney General Luann Weyhrauch: Under the Act, and the Alaska Constitution, the creation of a budget proposal for submittal to the legislature is the responsibility of the governor not the department or the state board. At the time the governor has prepared and submitted a budget to the legislature, the budget proposal is under the control of the governor, not the state board. The state board certainly has the authority in its discretion to take a vote approving or disapproving the governor's budget. Such a vote would be solely a symbolic statement in light of the governor's responsibility under the Alaska constitution and the Act. CHAIR STEVENS stated that the legislature looks to the board for leadership in education while recognizing that leadership is never easy. 9:34:15 AM CO-CHAIR STORY observed that the legislature and the board are the advocates for the children. She continued by saying "what we do and what we legislate, impacts every child's day." She asked what the findings were on a safety gap-analysis conducted by DEED during the past year. 9:38:44 AM MICHAEL JOHNSON, PhD, Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to listen to the interaction between the two bodies. Addressing Representative Story's question, he explained that the analysis was anecdotal and had been done a few years ago for the purpose of looking at safety upgrades to buildings. A second analysis was done last summer to look at how those safety upgrades may have impacted safety and what new gaps or threats may exist now. Staff at the department called superintendents for the information so the cost of the analysis was not measurable. 9:40:16 AM SENATOR BEGICH asked the board to look at the high cost of energy in rural school districts and to propose what it thinks the vision for education should be. 9:41:53 AM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK observed that the state school board's proposal for the budget historically was respected. He said the assistant attorney general's statement that the boards budgetary power is symbolic was disrespectful and caused him to look up the statute, Sec. 14.07.150. It reads as follows: Sec. 14.07.150. Budget and fiscal authority. The commissioner has responsibility and authority for the preparation and execution of a budget and for the other fiscal affairs of the department, subject to the approval of the board. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said he understands that the governor is ultimately responsible for the budget, but he would be doing more research because he respects the roles of the commissioner and the board. 9:44:31 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND said the line in the memo that reads "the responsibility and authority of the commissioner for the preparation and execution of a budget and for the other fiscal affairs of the department" is not for the foundation formula, base student allocation, or any other funding. She explained that fiscal impacts apply to the department, not the classrooms in the over 500 schools in Alaska. She went on to say the department has taken many cuts in the last few years and could not continue to provide the top-level service they had been providing to school districts if they were to endure additional cuts. She suggested looking at what budget the memo references. 9:46:28 AM SENATOR BIRCH suggested that the board look at health care costs during its upcoming retreat to address extraordinary increases in costs. 9:47:40 AM SENATOR COSTELLO wondered why the board of education needed a statute to weigh in on whether it supports or does not support the governors proposed education budget. 9:48:15 AM MR. FIELDS said he believes the founders of the state intended for the board to be non-political. He shared his concern that with the legislature having one opinion regarding the budget and the governor having another, the board could become a political pawn if it decided to take a vote on the governor's proposed budget. 9:50:27 AM CHAIR STEVENS described the situation as problematic because the legislature looks to the board for leadership. He said the board had not been forthcoming about the budget but he realized the political situation the board is in. He continued to say that long ago he decided to do the right thing even if it resulted in his getting thrown out of office. He opined that the board needed to do the right thing. 9:51:05 AM SENATOR COSTELLO commented that the State Board of Education & Early Development appears to be comprised of the only Alaskans that don't have an opinion regarding the budget proposed by the governor. 9:51:30 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND said she wondered why the board's vote on the budget was tabled so she appreciates Mr. Field's perspective. At the same time, she also appreciates Senator Costello's comment about Alaskans' opinions on the governor's budget. She related that after hearing from hundreds of Alaskans around the state, she would estimate that 95 percent were opposed to the governor's budget, particularly in the area of education. 9:52:54 AM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said (indisc. technical difficulties). He stated that we're all in this together so we need to hear from each other, and we need to have the expected leadership rise up. 9:53:08 AM CO-CHAIR STORY asked Mr. Fields about the need to support language immersion programs and his thoughts on HB 24 that would not allow districts to employ individuals who did not have an endorsement in the subject areas for which they applied to teach. 9:54:08 AM MR. FIELDS answered that the board supports language immersion programs and it was his belief that HB 24 would expand the options for schools regarding immersion programs. 9:54:55 AM SENATOR BIRCH asked Mr. Fields if he would like to introduce the board members. MR. FIELDS introduced board members who had been sitting in the audience. 9:56:35 AM CO-CHAIR STORY encouraged the State Board of Education & Early Development to meet with the Association of Alaska School Boards. 9:57:57 AM SENATOR HUGHES commented that she respected Mr. Fields opinion that the board remain non-political. 9:59:08 AM CO-CHAIR STORY expressed the sentiment that student achievement and communication was important and encouraged the board to consider a communications plan during its retreat. 10:00:45 AM MR. FIELDS expressed appreciation for the opportunity to appear before the committee and hear their comments. 10:02:23 AM ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committees, the joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Standing Committees adjourned at 10:02 a.m.
|SEDC_Presentation_2019 State Board of Education Annual Report_28March2019.pdf||
SEDC 3/28/2019 9:00:00 AM
Alaksa State Board of Education & Early Development - Annual Report - March 28, 2019