Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/31/1993 01:47 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.