Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/31/1993 01:47 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
     SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                    
                         March 31, 1993                                        
                           1:47 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                                
 Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 All members present                                                           
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 CONFIRMATION HEARING - STOWELL JOHNSTONE, STATE BOARD OF                      
 EDUCATION                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 160                                                           
 "An Act relating to memorial scholarship loans."                              
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 61                                                            
 "An Act implementing certain recommendations of Alaska 2000                   
 to improve the state's education system; and providing for an                 
 effective date."                                                              
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 160 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 SB  61 - See HESS minutes dated 2/8/93, 2/10/93, 2/17/93,                     
          2/24/93, 3/3/93, 3/8/93, 3/17/93, 3/19/93, 3/29/93.                  
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Stowell R. Johnstone                                                          
 4822 Loretta Lane                                                             
 Anchorage, AK 99507                                                           
                                                                               
 Kathleen Niles, Admissions Clerk                                              
 University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka                                          
 1332 Seward Ave.                                                              
 Sitka, AK 99835                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports SB 160                                        
                                                                               
 Joe Ambrose, Staff to Senator Robin Taylor                                    
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 160                          
                                                                               
 Elaine Sunde, Director, Sitka Campus                                          
 University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka                                          
 1332 Seward Ave.                                                              
 Sitka, AK 99835                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of SB 160                         
                                                                               
 Wendy Redman, Vice President for University Relations                         
 University of Alaska                                                          
 910 Yukon Drive                                                               
 Fairbanks, AK 99775-2388                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports SB 160                                        
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 93-32, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  called the Senate Health, Education and Social              
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 1:47 p.m.  He announced                 
 the first order of business would be a confirmation hearing                   
 on Governor appointee Stowell Johnstone to the State Board of                 
 Education.  Mr. Johnston, a teacher and school adminstrator,                  
 has live in the State of Alaska for approximately 28 years.                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Mr. Johnstone his thoughts on the                       
 current length of the school year.  STOWELL JOHNSTONE answered                
 that the amount of time teachers have to spend with students                  
 has been severely depleted over the past 10 to 15 years as a                  
 result of the programs that have been put into schools.  He                   
 believes that consideration should be given to more time in                   
 schools with students, with instructors.  He said if teachers                 
 were able to concentrate a greater proportion of their time                   
 on dealing with the fundamentals of education in  the academic                
 area, they would be able to make greater progress toward those                
 things they tend to be rated on, such as standardized tests.                  
                                                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if the process is too restrictive on the                
 flexibility of a teacher or a school to control who attends                   
 the classroom or who doesn't, such as students who are                        
 disruptive in the classroom.  STOWELL JOHNSTONE replied that                  
 it is his opinion that even though there has been substantial                 
 change since the Supreme Court decision where rights were                     
 granted to students, there has been ample opportunity to                      
 develop processes that will allow teachers to have class                      
 control.  If that isn't happening, it should be happening, he                 
 stated.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 086                                                                    
 SENATOR ELLIS asked for his comments on what he believes is                   
 the appropriate extent and scope of the state's role in early                 
 childhood education.  STOWELL JOHNSTONE answered that his                     
 concentration in teaching has been basically at the senior                    
 high and university levels, but he is confident that the early                
 childhood education can be a great leveler for students that                  
 do not have the opportunity at home.  He added that those                     
 students that are considered "special" probably benefit more                  
 from early childhood as a leveler than regular students do.                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked for Mr. Johnstone's comments on the use                   
 of school construction funds for repair and maintenance of                    
 schools.  JOHNSTONE replied there is great need in the state                  
 for construction.  The villages are growing and, for the most                 
 part, it is hard to find a school that is not crowded.  The                   
 state of repair of some of the schools, not only in the                       
 villages, but in the urban areas as well, is not acceptable                   
 by our standards, he said.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 180                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN commented that there is a real need to do                       
 improvements to West High in Anchorage.  In addition to that,                 
 a high priority of his is to deal with the military schools                   
 that need repairs.   Unfortunately, it is a case of being                     
 caught in the bureaucracy where the federal Department of                     
 Education is supposed to bring those schools up to a level so                 
 that the Anchorage School District can accept them.   He                      
 encouraged Mr. Johnstone to get actively involved in the issue                
 to see what can be done to help ensure that those schools are                 
 brought up to standard.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 219                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO said in other states, when a school is either                    
 being financially mismanaged or if there are significant                      
 curriculum or learning deficiencies in the district, the                      
 Department of Education has taken a pretty aggressive role in                 
 stepping in to either monitor the situation or rectify it.                    
 She asked Mr. Johnstone how he felt about that level of state                 
 involvement.  STOWELL JOHNSTONE answered that it is a two-                    
 edged sword in that the State of Alaska has empowered the                     
 local school boards to be the authorities within the schools.                 
 He said while he thinks the state board has the responsibility                
 to get involved if things are running amuck in the school                     
 district, he would hope they would encourage the State                        
 Department of Education to provide services that will help                    
 school districts improve.  He added he was not sure how much                  
 authority there is from a legal standpoint, but he would take                 
 a look at what they can do if that is the case.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO said it is her understanding that the Department                 
 of Education is taking severe budget cuts this year, and one                  
 of the areas they are being cut in is teacher certification.                  
 She asked if, as a state board member, Mr. Johnstone saw                      
 himself as potentially an advocate for the education budget,                  
 or does he feel that is not his role.  STOWELL JOHNSTONE                      
 responded that as a state board member he would see the                       
 position as an advocate for that.  He said if we're going to                  
 maintain the level of service that the state department is                    
 expected to do at this time, there must be some way to provide                
 for that to happen.  He also noted that one of the reasons                    
 that he is interested in being on the State Board of Education                
 is that he sees this as a real time in education where some                   
 things are going to happen.  He said that for the first time,                 
 we are recognizing that we do have two sets of standards to                   
 maintain.  One of them is school standards whereby we judge                   
 what the where-with-all is to provide the environment for                     
 education.  The second is students standards, which we haven't                
 dealt with a great deal, and we need to establish those                       
 standards and develop them.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 321                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER closed the confirmation hearing and thanked                   
 Mr. Johnstone for his participation.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 330                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  SB 160  (MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP LOANS)              
 as the next order of business, noting that testimony would be                 
 taken over the teleconference network from the Sitka site.                    
                                                                               
 Number 332                                                                    
                                                                               
 KATHLEEN NILES, Admissions Clerk, University of Alaska                        
 Southeast-Sitka, related that she has already received 138                    
 requests for the next Law Enforcement Certificate Program,                    
 however, they are limited to accepting 30 of those applicants.                
 In 1992 there were 20 students that attended the class and 14                 
 of them required financial aid.  She said the change in the                   
 eligibility requirements for receiving a Michael Murphy                       
 memorial scholarship loan would be a way to help these people                 
 who are interested in entering the law enforcement field.                     
                                                                               
 Number 347                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOE AMBROSE, staff to Senator Robin Taylor, explained the                     
 legislation would modify the eligibility requirements for the                 
 Michael Murphy Scholarship to include certificate programs.                   
 Current wording of AS 14.43.300 limits the awarding of                        
 scholarship loans to students who pursue a degree program in                  
 law enforcement, law, probations and parole, or penology or                   
 closely related fields.  This language prevents students in                   
 certificate programs, such as the Law Enforcement Certificate                 
 Program offered at the Sitka campus, UAS, from eligibility.                   
                                                                               
 Concluding, Mr. Ambrose said SB 160 would potentially benefit                 
 Alaska students attending an Alaska school with an eye toward                 
 employment in Alaska.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 370                                                                    
                                                                               
 ELAINE SUNDE, Director of the Sitka campus of the University                  
 of Alaska Southeast in Sitka, said the Law Enforcement                        
 Certificate Program is done in partnership with the Alaska                    
 Public Safety Academy.  The students come in from throughout                  
 the state and are in residence for about 17 weeks.  These                     
 individuals are funding their own education as opposed to the                 
 municipalities doing it for them.  The opportunity to offer                   
 them some funding would be an incentive for them to remain in                 
 the state, she said.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 385                                                                    
                                                                               
 WENDY REDMAN, representing the University of Alaska and                       
 testifying in Juneau, stated it was a pleasure to testify in                  
 support of a bill which has no downside to any constituency.                  
 It is a bill that will expand opportunities for their students                
 to be able to get financial aid, which does not come from the                 
 state, to enter into certificate or degree programs.  She                     
 explained that the money that goes into the Michael Murphy                    
 memorial scholarship is all private donations.  She urged                     
 passage of SB 160.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 395                                                                    
                                                                               
 There being no further testimony on SB 160, the Chair stated                  
 he would entertain a motion on the bill.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 160, along with the accompanying                 
 zero fiscal note, be passed out of committee with individual                  
 recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                    
 Number 401                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought  SB 61  (IMPLEMENT ALASKA 2000                        
 RECOMMENDATIONS) before the committee as the final order of                   
 business.  He directed attention to a draft committee                         
 substitute.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 409                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO pointed out that the draft did not contain an                    
 agreed upon change to page 9, line 1,  where the phrase "must                 
 be nonsectarian and" was to be inserted after the words                       
 between "charter school."                                                     
                                                                               
 BETTY HARGRAVE, staff to the HESS committee, explained that                   
 the change was sent to the drafter who changed the wording to                 
 "religion" because he thought that would satisfy Senator                      
 Salo's concern.  However, he does not have a problem with                     
 putting the original language back in.                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO said she thinks there is a difference in the                     
 effect of the language, that a school could be sectarian and                  
 still not discriminate on the basis of religion.                              
                                                                               
 The committee agreed to insert "must be nonsectarian and" on                  
 page 9, line 1, and to delete "religion" on page 9, line 2.                   
 The Chair then asked for the pleasure of the committee.                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved that CSSB 61(HES) be passed out of                       
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no                        
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
 There being no further business to come before the committee,                 
 the meeting was adjourned at 2:19 p.m.                                        
                                                                               

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