Legislature(2021 - 2022)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/22/2021 09:00 AM FINANCE

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                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 22, 2021                                                                                            
                         9:03 a.m.                                                                                              
9:03:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Bishop called the  Senate Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 9:03 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Click Bishop, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Senator Gary  Stevens, Sponsor;  Tim Lamkin,  Staff, Senator                                                                    
Gary Stevens; Erin Shine, Staff, Senator Click Bishop.                                                                          
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Dr. Paul Layer, Vice  President for Academics, Students, and                                                                    
Research,    University    of    Alaska;    Deena    Bishop,                                                                    
Superintendent,  Anchorage  School   District;  Gene  Stone,                                                                    
Chief  School Administrator,  Lower  Yukon School  District,                                                                    
Mountain  Village;  Peter  Hoepfner, Cordova  School  Board,                                                                    
Cordova; Chris Reitan,  Superintendent, Craig School System,                                                                    
Craig;  Scott   MacManus,  Superintendent,   Alaska  Gateway                                                                    
School   District,  Tok;   Patrick  Mayer,   Superintendent,                                                                    
Aleutians  East  Borough,  Sand Point;  Susan  Kalina,  Vice                                                                    
Provost    for    Academic   Affairs    and    Institutional                                                                    
Effectiveness, University of Alaska Anchorage.                                                                                  
SB 19     EXTEND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY                                                                               
          SB 19 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SB 32     COLLEGE CREDIT FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS                                                                               
          SB 32 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SB 36     U OF A REGENTS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS                                                                                 
          SB 36 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
9:04:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 32                                                                                                            
     "An Act establishing the Alaska middle college program                                                                     
     for public school students; and relating to the powers                                                                     
     of the University of Alaska."                                                                                              
9:04:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop introduced the bill sponsor.                                                                                    
9:05:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARY  STEVENS, SPONSOR, discussed SB  32. He thought                                                                    
the committee was  familiar with the issues in  the bill. He                                                                    
simplified  that the  bill arranged  for  students all  over                                                                    
Alaska  to take  accredited  college classes  while in  high                                                                    
school.  He  thought  students that  began  the  process  of                                                                    
taking  University classes  during  high school  went on  to                                                                    
become full  time students at  the University of  Alaska. He                                                                    
thought the  courses allowed  for students  to learn  how to                                                                    
take college  level classes. He  stated that the  bill would                                                                    
benefits both students and learning institutions alike.                                                                         
9:08:02 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  LAMKIN, STAFF,  SENATOR GARY  STEVENS, reiterated  that                                                                    
the  bill  was identical  to  a  bill  that had  passed  the                                                                    
committee the previous year but  had died after the COVID-19                                                                    
pandemic  had   cut  the   legislative  session   short.  He                                                                    
summarized that the  bill was not meant  to micro-manage but                                                                    
to provide a flexible framework for learning opportunities.                                                                     
9:09:34 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. PAUL LAYER, VICE  PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMICS, STUDENTS, AND                                                                    
RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY  OF ALASKA (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support  of the  bill.  He  cited that  dual  enrollment                                                                    
programs had been  shown to increase collage  going rate. He                                                                    
said  that  the University  had  been  partner with  similar                                                                    
programs   in  Anchorage   and  Fairbanks   that  had   been                                                                    
successful  and  were expanding.  He  spoke  of the  virtual                                                                    
middle college  that partnered with districts,  which served                                                                    
areas  without  road  systems   or  campuses.  He  expressed                                                                    
appreciation  of   the  flexibility   allowed  for   in  the                                                                    
legislation.  He  noted  that technical  courses  were  also                                                                    
available under the legislation.                                                                                                
Dr.  Layer highlighted  that the  courses  in question  were                                                                    
college-level  courses  that  would   appear  on  a  college                                                                    
transcript and would be on  a student's permanent record. He                                                                    
believed that the legislation offered  an affordable way for                                                                    
students to get a jump start on their college education.                                                                        
9:14:00 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wilson asked  about the  capacity of  the colleges.                                                                    
He wondered whether there were limitations for each campus.                                                                     
Mr.  Layer  relayed  that the  University  had  not  reached                                                                    
capacity and  had the ability  to take on more  students. He                                                                    
noted that the  program for the Fairbanks  North Star School                                                                    
District  had originally  been limited  to 40  students, and                                                                    
the  waiting list  was long.  He continued  that there  were                                                                    
about  30 school  districts  that  were currently  partnered                                                                    
with the University.                                                                                                            
9:15:41 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson  asked about screening  criteria in  the case                                                                    
that  a   cap  was  met.   He  asked  about   online  versus                                                                    
traditional classroom  success rates for the  current school                                                                    
year. He shared  that an online class from  his district had                                                                    
a  40   percent  failure  rate  as   compared  to  in-person                                                                    
Mr.  Layer   emphasized  that  the  online   program  was  a                                                                    
partnership with  the schools and schools  provided guidance                                                                    
and support.  He noted that  in a traditional  online class,                                                                    
there might not be the  same level of support. He emphasized                                                                    
that  a support  mechanism  was essential  to the  students                                                                     
success. He  noted that the Memorandum  of Agreement between                                                                    
schools  and Universities  iterated the  responsibilities to                                                                    
provide support.                                                                                                                
9:17:26 AM                                                                                                                    
9:17:43 AM                                                                                                                    
DEENA  BISHOP,  SUPERINTENDENT,  ANCHORAGE  SCHOOL  DISTRICT                                                                    
(via teleconference), testified in  support of the bill. She                                                                    
relayed  that  she had  been  involved  in similar  programs                                                                    
since  2021.  She  noted  that the  bill  allowed  for  many                                                                    
different  models depending  upon the  school districts  and                                                                    
the needs of the students.  She thought the program could be                                                                    
implemented  in   various  ways  and  would   not  eliminate                                                                    
technical   prep   agreements.   She  stressed   that   dual                                                                    
enrollment added value and offered  equity of opportunity to                                                                    
Ms. Bishop believed that  dual enrollment programs supported                                                                    
high standards  in education  in the  state. She  noted that                                                                    
low  variance  among  school districts  was  important.  She                                                                    
believed  that all  parties involved  cold work  together to                                                                    
make the bill a reality  for Alaskas  students. She stressed                                                                    
that the bill  should not be considered  an unfunded mandate                                                                    
but  a  tool that  prepares  Alaskan  students for  college,                                                                    
which should be a priority of the state.                                                                                        
9:21:21 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Bishop  continued her comments.  She thought  there were                                                                    
several  bills in  process  that  reflected the  educational                                                                    
values of  the state.  She related  that many  students that                                                                    
took  college  level classes  in  high  school continued  to                                                                    
Ms. Bishop stressed the importance of the legislation.                                                                          
9:23:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wielechowski  looked  at  the MOU,  and  noted  the                                                                    
agreement was  for upwards of  200 students. He  asked about                                                                    
the anticipated demand for the program.                                                                                         
Ms.  Bishop   responded  that  the   demand  had   grown  in                                                                    
Anchorage, which started with 100  student and had a waiting                                                                    
list.  She emphasized  that  students had  to  work hard  to                                                                    
qualify for  the program.  She added  that the  district had                                                                    
wanted  to  ensure  that  the   students  had  an  excellent                                                                    
experience, which is why the  number of students was limited                                                                    
Ms. Bishop continued her  response to Senator Wielechowski's                                                                    
question.   She   believed   that   growth   should   happen                                                                    
thoughtfully overtime.                                                                                                          
9:26:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wielechowski looked  at the  MOU and  observed that                                                                    
the majority of the courses  were at the Eagle River campus.                                                                    
He  asked  whether  there were  transportation  options  for                                                                    
Ms.  Bishop explained  that King  Tech High  School provided                                                                    
transportation. She  considered that the district  had taken                                                                    
down barriers  for students not only  in transportation, but                                                                    
by providing support for college prep.                                                                                          
9:28:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator    Olson     asked    about     potential    funding                                                                    
responsibilities  for  school   districts,  particularly  in                                                                    
rural areas of the state.                                                                                                       
Mr.  Layer  explained  that  through  the  Alaska  Advantage                                                                    
program the University shared the  costs of the program with                                                                    
districts. He  offered to provide additional  information on                                                                    
pricing  for districts.  He stressed  that the  idea was  to                                                                    
provide an affordable and accessible  program. He noted that                                                                    
there were other entities, external  to Alaska, that offered                                                                    
programs, but  he stressed that  the University  program was                                                                    
unique  as  it  was   Alaska-focused.  He  shared  that  the                                                                    
University wanted  to be the  entity that  districts reached                                                                    
out to first for dual enrollment opportunities.                                                                                 
9:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  Bishop  added  when  yearly  BSA  funds  were  received                                                                    
decisions were made  daily about the value  of those dollars                                                                    
and the education priorities for  Alaskan students. She said                                                                    
that in  Anchorage, as well as  Mat-Su, budgeting approached                                                                    
had been changed to reach  desired outcomes. She shared that                                                                    
when  the  Anchorage program  had  grown.  She relayed  that                                                                    
cooperatives with  other school  districts had been  used to                                                                    
share costs.  She shared that  focusing on  optimum outcomes                                                                    
would lead to the right decisions and spending priorities.                                                                      
9:32:24 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Olson  did not  doubt  the  program had  value.  He                                                                    
wondered how to  ensure that all students in  the state were                                                                    
able to  participate, especially in rural  areas where there                                                                    
were challenges with achievement at the college level.                                                                          
Senator  Stevens appreciated  Senator  Olson's concerns.  He                                                                    
thought bigger districts had done  a great job. He expressed                                                                    
appreciation for  the work of  Mr. Layer and Ms.  Bishop. He                                                                    
thought   that  smaller   districts  were   challenging  and                                                                    
appreciated  Ms.  Bishops  work  with  the  Lower Yukon.  He                                                                    
stressed that the bill was  crafted to ensure that rural and                                                                    
urban student  would have equal  access. He did  not believe                                                                    
that  the  program  should be  categorized  as  an  unfunded                                                                    
9:35:34 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson  thought Lower Yukon  School District  was the                                                                    
outlier in  the scenario  being discussed. He  asked whether                                                                    
the  student  at  Mount   Edgecumbe  Boarding  School  would                                                                    
qualify for the program.                                                                                                        
Dr. Bishop believed that dual  credits were offered at Mount                                                                    
Edgecumbe. She emphasized that  if districts worked together                                                                    
to  offer  courses,  there  could be  a  mixed  cohort  with                                                                    
students   from   other   districts.   She   stressed   that                                                                    
cooperatives  between districts  were a  powerful tool.  She                                                                    
said  that  innovative  ways for  successful  outcomes  were                                                                    
being regularly discussed.                                                                                                      
9:37:39 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  von  Imhof  supported the  program  and  wanted  to                                                                    
address  funding.  She  referenced  the  Sectional  Analysis                                                                    
(copy on file):                                                                                                                 
     (h)  ADM: Holds  harmless a  school district's  Average                                                                    
     Daily    Membership    (ADM)   calculation.    Students                                                                    
     participating  in  the  AMC program  are  to  still  be                                                                    
   counted toward the respective school district's ADM.                                                                         
Senator von  Imhof asked  who was  paying the  University of                                                                    
Alaska for  the tuition  and the  credits that  the students                                                                    
would receive.                                                                                                                  
Ms. Bishop relayed that the  Anchorage School District (ASD)                                                                    
currently  paid the  University.  She stated  that the  MOAs                                                                    
detailed services  that would be  utilized by  students. She                                                                    
said  that  because students  were  still  enrolled in  high                                                                    
school, much of  their tuition would be  covered by schools.                                                                    
She stressed  that the  intent was  to create  college ready                                                                    
kids. She  said that some  high schools and  colleges shared                                                                    
9:41:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  von Imhof  appreciated the  information. She  noted                                                                    
that there  was a zero  fiscal impact note, and  it appeared                                                                    
that  ASD and  the University  had created  an agreement  to                                                                    
share resources. She noted that  not all districts had large                                                                    
student counts.  She had concerns  with the word  "shall" in                                                                    
the legislation  and preferred the  word "may"  because some                                                                    
districts  might   not  have  the  financial   resources  to                                                                    
participate  in  the  program. She  felt  that  the  program                                                                    
should  be  offered  to  school  districts  that  wanted  to                                                                    
participate. She  stressed that  many districts might  no be                                                                    
able to afford the program.                                                                                                     
9:43:28 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Lamkin  relayed that the  issue of "shall"  versus "may"                                                                    
had  been  discussed at  some  length.  He stated  that  the                                                                    
sponsor  wished  to express,  through  the  language of  the                                                                    
bill, an expectation that the  program be made available. He                                                                    
stated that schools could opt out of the program.                                                                               
Senator Stevens  thought that to  some extent  the inclusion                                                                    
of  "shall" addressed  the concept  of equal  opportunity as                                                                    
previously  mentioned  by  Ms. Bishop.  He  reiterated  that                                                                    
districts were not required to  take part in the program but                                                                    
that every student should be afforded the opportunity.                                                                          
9:45:01 AM                                                                                                                    
9:45:13 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Lamkin addressed the Sectional Analysis (copy on file):                                                                     
     SECTIONAL ANALYSIS (Version A)                                                                                             
     Sec. 1: AS 14.07.168 Regarding an annual report                                                                            
     submitted to the Legislature by the state                                                                                  
     Board of Education and Early Development, amended to                                                                       
     include in that report a current summary of middle                                                                         
     college activity and outcomes in the state.                                                                                
     Sec. 2: AS 14.30 is amended to add a new Article 15,                                                                       
     relating to the Alaska Middle College                                                                                      
          AS  14.30.780  (a)  Establishes a  Middle  College                                                                    
          program for  eligible students  in high  school to                                                                    
          enroll  in courses  at the  University of  Alaska,                                                                    
          and  to earn  credit  toward a  college degree  as                                                                    
          well as credit toward high school graduation.                                                                         
          (b)  UA shall  enter into  an agreement  with each                                                                    
          school district to participate  in the AMC, giving                                                                    
          access to  any eligible student to  participate in                                                                    
          the program.                                                                                                          
          (c)  Eligibility:   Establishes  baseline  student                                                                    
          eligibility   requirements    to   include   being                                                                    
          enrolled  in a  public school,  be in  high school                                                                    
          (grades  9-12), to  not  have  already received  a                                                                    
          high  school  diploma,   and  demonstrate  to  the                                                                    
          satisfaction of  both the school district  and the                                                                    
          UA  as being  academically  competent to  complete                                                                    
          college level coursework.                                                                                             
          (d)  Awareness:   Requires  school   districts  to                                                                    
          establish  and maintain  awareness  of AMC  course                                                                    
          offerings   and    eligibility   requirements   to                                                                    
          students and  parents, including the  academic and                                                                    
          social  responsibilities of  participating in  the                                                                    
          (e)  Financing:  UA  and  school  districts  shall                                                                    
          include  in  their  respective  MOU  a  manner  of                                                                    
          sharing  costs associated  with providing  the AMC                                                                    
          program   locally,   including  tuition   waivers,                                                                    
          scholarships, and other  means of reducing program                                                                    
          costs and finding efficiencies.                                                                                       
          (f)   Course  Quality:   specifies  that   courses                                                                    
          offered by  the AMC must meet  quality and content                                                                    
          standards,  including   quality  instruction,  and                                                                    
          regular course and instructor review.                                                                                 
          (g) Credit  Cap: Under  the AMC  program, students                                                                    
          may not  enroll in more  than 15 credit  hours per                                                                    
          semester,  nor  earn  more  than  a  total  of  60                                                                    
          (h)  ADM:  Holds   harmless  a  school  district's                                                                    
          Average   Daily   Membership  (ADM)   calculation.                                                                    
          Students participating  in the AMC program  are to                                                                    
          still  be  counted  toward the  respective  school                                                                    
          district's ADM.                                                                                                       
          (i)   Transcripts:  Allows   the  UA   and  school                                                                    
          districts    to   exchange    student   transcript                                                                    
          information  for purposes  of determining  program                                                                    
          eligibility or for graduation requirements.                                                                           
          (j) Definitions:  Provides definitions for  use of                                                                    
          the term  "program" in this  section as  being the                                                                    
          AMC   program,  and   for  "school   district"  as                                                                    
          consistent  with  other  uses   of  that  term  in                                                                    
          statute, as defined on AS 14.30.350.                                                                                  
     Sec. 3:AS 14.40.040, relating to general powers and                                                                        
     duties of the UA, is a conforming amendment to :                                                                           
          (c)  UA  must  implement  the  AMC  and  regularly                                                                    
          review  the  AMC  course content  and  quality  of                                                                    
          instruction  to meet  national standards  for dual                                                                    
          credit,  enter  into  MOUs with  school  districts                                                                    
          consistent with the AMC,  and award student credit                                                                    
          for course  completion of AMC courses,  which will                                                                    
          be fully transferable within the UA system.                                                                           
9:49:13 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson asked about page 4 Line 8, and the releasing                                                                     
of transcripts. He asked whether the requirement met the                                                                        
Federal Education Protraction Act (FRPA) policy.                                                                                
Mr. Lamkin stated that the language had been negotiated                                                                         
between districts and the University. He deferred to Mr.                                                                        
Mr. Layer replied in the affirmative.                                                                                           
9:50:03 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wielechowski asked whether the University credits                                                                       
were transferable outside the UA system.                                                                                        
Mr. Layer responded in the affirmative.                                                                                         
9:50:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  von Imhof  pondered a  smaller  school district  in                                                                    
which 50  percent of the  kids wanted to participate  in the                                                                    
program. She  questioned what would  happen to  the staffing                                                                    
of the  home district and  would the University need  to add                                                                    
another staff member.                                                                                                           
Ms. Bishop  believed money should follow  student needs. She                                                                    
shared  that ASD  utilized university  professors, but  some                                                                    
dual credit  options existed that used  high school teachers                                                                    
who  moonlighted   as  adjunct  professors  by   night.  She                                                                    
stressed  that  there were  various  ways  to implement  the                                                                    
program  based   on  the  number  of   students  wanting  to                                                                    
9:52:54 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
9:53:07 AM                                                                                                                    
GENE STONE,  CHIEF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR, LOWER  YUKON SCHOOL                                                                    
DISTRICT, MOUNTAIN  VILLAGE (via  teleconference), testified                                                                    
in  support  of  the  bill.  He  thought  the  bill  was  an                                                                    
important opportunity  for rural  students in the  state who                                                                    
currently  could only  receive dual  credits online.  He had                                                                    
worked as assistant superintendent  in Mat-Su and had worked                                                                    
on  development  of the  first  Middle  College Program.  He                                                                    
testified that  the ability to  use K-12 funds  for students                                                                    
to  earn  up  to  an associates  degree  was  beneficial  to                                                                    
Alaskan families.                                                                                                               
Mr. Stone continued his testimony.  He spoke of the programs                                                                    
available in  Anchorage and Mat-Su.  He reiterated  that the                                                                    
program would not  be an unfunded mandate.  He stressed that                                                                    
the  on-campus  experience  for  high  school  students  was                                                                    
essential for success at the college level.                                                                                     
9:56:12 AM                                                                                                                    
PETER   HOEPFNER,  CORDOVA   SCHOOL   BOARD,  CORDOVA   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  opposition   to  the  bill.  He                                                                    
supported  students getting  dual  credit but  not that  the                                                                    
bill mandated  that districts participate. He  believed that                                                                    
the spending of K-12 dollars was a local control issue.                                                                         
9:59:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  REITAN, SUPERINTENDENT,  CRAIG  SCHOOL SYSTEM,  CRAIG                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke in  support  to  the bill.  He                                                                    
expressed concerns  about specific language on  Page 3, line                                                                    
     (e) An agreement entered into  by a school district and                                                                    
     the  University of  Alaska under  (b)  of this  section                                                                    
     must outline the manner in  which costs associated with                                                                    
     the program  will be  shared between  the participating                                                                    
     school district and the University of Alaska.                                                                              
He  appreciated the  intent  of the  bill  and thought  that                                                                    
language  should  be  included  that  the  University  would                                                                    
develop a  negotiated, affordable,  and uniform  rate across                                                                    
all districts.  He believed  that this  would create  a more                                                                    
equitable playing field for all Alaskan students.                                                                               
10:01:26 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop asked whether the  bill mandated that school                                                                    
districts participate in the Middle College Program.                                                                            
Senator Stevens  answered in the negative.  He asserted that                                                                    
the  bill took  no  power from  local  school districts.  He                                                                    
asserted that  schools could  choose whether  to participate                                                                    
or not to participate.                                                                                                          
10:02:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SCOTT  MACMANUS,   SUPERINTENDENT,  ALASKA   GATEWAY  SCHOOL                                                                    
DISTRICT, TOK  (via teleconference), spoke in  opposition to                                                                    
the bill.  He took umbrage  with the language of   shall  as                                                                    
it  was  written  in  the  legislation.  He  referenced  Mr.                                                                    
Reitan's testimony and agreed  with his sentiments regarding                                                                    
flexible solutions  for smaller  districts. He  thought that                                                                    
small school  districts should be included  in the program's                                                                    
design. He  believed that dual  credit programs were  a good                                                                    
idea but  did not  want them  to be  mandated. He  said that                                                                    
dual credit programs had worked well in his district.                                                                           
Mr. MacManus  cited the fiscal  note for the  University and                                                                    
the fiscal  note for the  Department of Education  and Early                                                                    
Development  were both  zero fiscal  notes, which  indicated                                                                    
that  costs   would  be  placed  on   school  districts.  He                                                                    
summarized  that he  supported  the  concept, and  supported                                                                    
students, but opposed the legislation as currently written.                                                                     
10:06:11 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICK MAYER, SUPERINTENDENT,  ALEUTIANS EAST BOROUGH, SAND                                                                    
POINT (via teleconference), testified  that he did not think                                                                    
it was  necessary to mandate school  district participation.                                                                    
He  thought  the  consideration   of  "shall"  versus  "may"                                                                    
warranted additional scrutiny.                                                                                                  
Mr. Mayer  spoke about challenges with  bandwidth. He shared                                                                    
that   bandwidth   in   his  district   was   unstable.   He                                                                    
acknowledged that  resources for the program  would come out                                                                    
of the  school districts   budget. He  thought there  was an                                                                    
issue of scale. He explained  that smaller districts did not                                                                    
have the  capacity to move  students and teachers  around in                                                                    
the same  way as  larger districts.  He proposed  that there                                                                    
was  an equity  issue with  the bill.  He thought  mandatory                                                                    
program  participation   would  be  a  big   issue  for  the                                                                    
10:09:48 AM                                                                                                                   
10:10:06 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                        
10:10:21 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson asked whether the  bill would affect students                                                                    
in homeschool programs.                                                                                                         
Senator Stevens  did not think  there would be an  impact to                                                                    
homeschool students.                                                                                                            
Senator  Wilson  asked  whether  homeschool  students  could                                                                    
participate in the program.                                                                                                     
Co-Chair Bishop noted  that Ms. Bishop was  nodding her head                                                                    
in the affirmative.                                                                                                             
Senator Wilson thought that people  in smaller districts who                                                                    
could not participate  through their brick-and-mortar school                                                                    
could  switch   to  homeschooling   and  then  be   able  to                                                                    
participate in the program.                                                                                                     
10:11:33 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Lamkin pointed to Page 2 of the legislation:                                                                                
     (b)  The University  of Alaska  shall make  the program                                                                    
     available to school districts in  the state by entering                                                                    
     into  an agreement  with each  school  district in  the                                                                    
     state   that  has   eligible  students   interested  in                                                                    
     participating in the program.                                                                                              
Mr. Lamkin stressed  that the onus was on  the University to                                                                    
make  the  program  available.   He  thought  the  reporting                                                                    
process  proposed by  the bill  would identify  any barriers                                                                    
for students, which would then be addressed.                                                                                    
Mr. Lamkin asserted that changing  the bill wording to "may"                                                                    
would  effectually   leave  the  program  as   it  currently                                                                    
existed;  changing  the  language   to   shall   meant  that                                                                    
schools would need  to explain why they were  opting out and                                                                    
then  address  any  existing   barriers  to  their  students                                                                    
participating  in the  program.  He thought  that top  notch                                                                    
students in  any district should be  afforded every resource                                                                    
possible to succeed.                                                                                                            
10:13:26 AM                                                                                                                   
Ms.  Bishop  affirmed  that  the   bill  would  improve  the                                                                    
outcomes of  the already  established programs.  She thought                                                                    
that the  shall  in the bill  would lead to the expansion of                                                                    
the programs accessibility to all students in the state.                                                                        
10:14:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SB  32  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
10:14:39 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:16:49 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATE BILL NO. 36                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to reporting requirements of the                                                                          
     Board of Regents of the University of Alaska."                                                                             
10:17:22 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Gary Stevens,  sponsor, explained  that SB  36 came                                                                    
about due to the loss  of accreditation by the University of                                                                    
Alaska    Anchorage.   He    discussed   the    process   of                                                                    
accreditation,  which  he  deemed as  straight  forward.  He                                                                    
shared that he had been shocked  to learn that the School of                                                                    
Education at  UAA had lost  accreditation. He said  that the                                                                    
president of the University at  the time had been unaware of                                                                    
the  accreditation  loss.  He   felt  that  the  University,                                                                    
particularly  the president  of  the  University, should  be                                                                    
aware  of accreditation  standings  of  all departments  and                                                                    
10:19:50 AM                                                                                                                   
Tim Lamkin,  Staff, Senator Gary Stevens,  discussed version                                                                    
B of the  legislation. He said that the  bill would maintain                                                                    
lines of communication within the  University system so that                                                                    
accreditation loss did not happen again.                                                                                        
10:20:44 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Lamkin  discussed a  Sectional  Analysis  for the  bill                                                                    
(copy on file):                                                                                                                 
     CS for Senate Bill 36 (EDC) (Version B)                                                                                    
     University    of    Alaska   Accreditation    Reporting                                                                    
     Sec. 1:  AS 14.40.190(b) Amends existing  University of                                                                    
     Alaska   reporting   requirements   regarding   teacher                                                                    
     training  and  retention,  to  specify  the  report  is                                                                    
     required  to be  submitted to  the Legislature  (Senate                                                                    
     Secretary / House Chief Clerk)  biennially, by the 30th                                                                    
     legislative day  of the first  regular session  of each                                                                    
     new Legislature.                                                                                                           
     Sec.   2:  AS   14.40.190(c)   is   a  new   subsection                                                                    
     establishing  a  requirement   for  the  University  of                                                                    
     Alaska to issue a biennial  report on the status of all                                                                    
     of its accreditations within the UA system.                                                                                
     The  report  must  be   submitted  to  the  Legislature                                                                    
     (Senate  Secretary /  House Chief  Clerk)  by the  30th                                                                    
     legislative day of the first regular session of the                                                                        
     legislature; and                                                                                                           
     The   accreditation  report   is  subsequently   to  be                                                                    
     presented in a formal  hearing setting to the education                                                                    
     committees  of  the  legislature,  the  scheduling  for                                                                    
     which  is  intended to  be  at  the discretion  of  the                                                                    
     chairs of the committees                                                                                                   
10:22:08 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Bishop  asked  about  Section 2  and  the  "formal                                                                    
hearing",  he  was curious  who  from  the University  would                                                                    
speak at the formal hearing.                                                                                                    
Senator Stevens  specified that the representative  would be                                                                    
from the Board of Regents.                                                                                                      
10:22:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Wilson asked  whether the  chairs of  the Education                                                                    
Committee in each  house of the legislature  would be forced                                                                    
to  officially  hear  the  report,   or  could  they  simply                                                                    
distribute it to committee members.                                                                                             
Senator  Stevens   asked  Senator  Wilson  to   restate  the                                                                    
Senator Wilson asked whether the  bill mandated certain work                                                                    
to Education Committee chairs.                                                                                                  
Senator  Stevens believed  that it  should be  mandated that                                                                    
the  presentation  on  accreditation  be  heard  before  the                                                                    
Education Committee. He contended  that he could not imagine                                                                    
an Education Committee chair who  would not be interested in                                                                    
hearing an update on the states University accreditation.                                                                       
Senator  Wilson asked  how many  programs at  the University                                                                    
required accreditation.                                                                                                         
Senator Stevens  was not  sure of  the number  but estimated                                                                    
over 100.                                                                                                                       
Co-Chair Bishop thought the number was 200.                                                                                     
Mr.  Lamkin   pointed  to  the   programmatic  accreditation                                                                    
summary in the bill packet (copy on file).                                                                                      
Senator Wilson had  seen the document but had  not wanted to                                                                    
count all the listed programs.                                                                                                  
Senator  Stevens shared  that the  accredited programs  were                                                                    
various and numerous.                                                                                                           
10:25:08 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator von  Imhof asked whether the  reports were currently                                                                    
submitted yearly to the Board of Regents.                                                                                       
Senator  Stevens responded  that  all  involved parties  had                                                                    
been surprised by the loss  of accreditation. He shared that                                                                    
there was  now a report  that went  to the board,  which was                                                                    
what would be shared with the legislature.                                                                                      
Senator von  Imhof clarified that  the report would  be seen                                                                    
by  the  Board   of  Regents  and  then   forwarded  to  the                                                                    
Senator Stevens replied in the affirmative.                                                                                     
Co-Chair Bishop OPENED invited testimony.                                                                                       
10:26:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SUSAN  KALINA,   VICE  PROVOST  FOR  ACADEMIC   AFFAIRS  AND                                                                    
INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS, UNIVERSITY  OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via   teleconference),  testified   that  the   three  main                                                                    
campuses of the  University of Alaska had  been reporting on                                                                    
accreditation to the  Board of Regents since  2012. She said                                                                    
that the report  was annual and that it  covered both status                                                                    
of accreditation  with the Northwest  Commission and  to the                                                                    
specialized  programmatic  accreditations for  each  program                                                                    
requiring  accreditation.  She  explained that  UAA  had  59                                                                    
programs  that  had  specialized accreditation,  through  24                                                                    
accrediting agencies.  She stated that the  reports outlined                                                                    
all recommendations  that might  be standing for  a program.                                                                    
She related that  accreditations were generally on  5, 7, or                                                                    
10-year cycles, and  they cycle ended in a  self-study and a                                                                    
site visit. She  relayed that the results of  the site visit                                                                    
went  to  the   agencies  who  then  sent   letters  to  the                                                                    
University  detailing  strengths   and  recommendations  for                                                                    
improvement.  She said  that issues  would be  addressed and                                                                    
discussed at the end of the accreditation cycle.                                                                                
10:30:28 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Stevens  thought  it  was concerning  to  hear  Ms.                                                                    
Kalina's comment  that the  reports had  been issued  to the                                                                    
Board  of Regents  since 2012,  when accreditation  had been                                                                    
lost  in 2019.  He  queried  what could  be  wring with  the                                                                    
system the University currently had  in place. He asked what                                                                    
had been done  by the University to make sure  that the loss                                                                    
of accreditation did not happen again.                                                                                          
Ms. Kalina  revealed that the  report that was  presented to                                                                    
the Board  of Regents was  very detailed.  She  relayed that                                                                    
at  UAA,  school  deans  were  required  to  provide  status                                                                    
updated  to the  provost  at frequent  intervals and  status                                                                    
update  meetings between  the  provost, dean,  and heads  of                                                                    
programs  were frequent.  She stressed  that if  concerns of                                                                    
any  size   were  identified,   the  provost   informed  the                                                                    
Co-Chair  Bishop  asked  Ms. Kalina  to  send  her  comments                                                                    
regarding   enhanced   accreditation    oversight   to   the                                                                    
10:33:12 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:33:19 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
10:33:45 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Bishop set the bill aside.                                                                                             
SB  36  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 19                                                                                                            
     "An Act extending the special education service                                                                            
     agency; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
10:34:03 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Bishop  recounted  that the  committee  had  heard                                                                    
public testimony on the bill March 2, 2021.                                                                                     
10:34:48 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Gary Stevens, Sponsor, relayed  that the bill had to                                                                    
do with  the Special Education Service  Agency (SESA), which                                                                    
was  valuable  to  the  students of  the  state  and  needed                                                                    
funding stabilization.  He said that  the next 8  years held                                                                    
some difficulties due to the cost of business.                                                                                  
10:35:30 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:35:46 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Hoffman MOVED  to ADOPT  Amendment 1,  32-LS020\B.3                                                                    
(Fisher, 3/8/21), (copy on file).                                                                                               
Co-Chair Bishop OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                        
10:36:13 AM                                                                                                                   
ERIN   SHINE,  STAFF,   SENATOR   CLICK  BISHOP,   addressed                                                                    
Amendment 1.  She explained that the  amendment would change                                                                    
the formula  for funding  the agency.  She said  the current                                                                    
formula was  set at $18.65  times the state  student average                                                                    
daily membership  (ADM), the amendment would  update that to                                                                    
$23.13 per ADM.                                                                                                                 
Ms. Shine referenced  a document that showed a  graph of the                                                                    
Special  Education   Services  Agency  Fund   Balance  being                                                                    
modelled on  a graph  (copy on file).  The sunset  review of                                                                    
SESA had revealed that the  statutory funding level had been                                                                    
flat since 2013; however, during  that period there had been                                                                    
a 63  percent increase  in their  caseload. She  shared that                                                                    
the  executive director  for SESA  had  provided an  updated                                                                    
projection for  SESAs funding level,  which showed  that, at                                                                    
current  levels,  funding  for   the  agency  would  not  be                                                                    
sufficient after 2025.                                                                                                          
Ms. Shine continued to address  the amendment. She explained                                                                    
that  relayed  that  the amendment  sought  to  address  the                                                                    
forthcoming budget  shortfall for the agency;  the estimated                                                                    
cost increase,  based on the  ADM is $577,000 per  year. She                                                                    
noted  Page  1,  line  8  of  the  amendment  reflected  the                                                                    
proposed  monetary  change.  She also  cited  the  effective                                                                    
dates for the  bill   one for the sunset  of SESA, effective                                                                    
June 30, 2021; although the  funding increase could begin at                                                                    
the start of the next fiscal year on July 1, 2021.                                                                              
10:38:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wielechowski  asked about  the fiscal impact  of the                                                                    
Ms.   Shine    responded   that   the    numbers   projected                                                                    
approximately $577,000 per year.                                                                                                
10:39:07 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator von Imhof  asked for verification that  version A of                                                                    
the bill version extended the sunset date to 2028.                                                                              
Ms. Shine  replied that  the amendment was  to version  b of                                                                    
the bill and would extend the sunset date to 2029.                                                                              
10:39:40 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Olson asked whether the  sponsor was in favor of the                                                                    
Ms. Shine said that she  had worked with the sponsors  staff                                                                    
to craft the amendment.                                                                                                         
10:40:01 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Stevens  spoke  to  Amendment  1.  He  thought  the                                                                    
amendment was marvelous and offered his full support.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Bishop  WITHDREW  his objection.  There  being  NO                                                                    
further  OBJECTION,  it  was so  ordered.  Amendment  1  was                                                                    
SB  19  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair  Bishop shared  that the  agenda for  the following                                                                    
day included  a report on  the Alaska Marine  Highway System                                                                    
10:41:18 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:41 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 36 UA-Accreditation_Research_Existing UA Accred Summary_21Feb2019.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 36 UA-Accreditation_SponsorStatement.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 36 Explaination of Changes in version B.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 36 UA-Accreditation_Sectional_Version B.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 32 MiddleColeges_Research_Early and Middle Colleges Offer High School Alternative.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColeges_Research_Early-College-Linked-to-Success_06Feb2019.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB032_MiddleColeges_Research_The Benefits of Starting College Early_WSJ_10Feb2019.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_Sectional_Version A.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_Sponsor-Statement_20Jan2021.pdf SEDC 3/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_UAF FNSB Middle College MOU.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_UAF Ecampus Middle College - MOU Template.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_AMCS 2018-2020 MOA Final.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 32 MiddleColleges_UAA MSBSD Middle College MOU.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 32
SB 19 Amendment 1 3.8.2021.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 19
SB 19 Amendment 1 Backup - SESA FY13-FY29 Fund Balance Scenarios.pdf SFIN 3/22/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 19