Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/03/1996 09:05 AM 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 April 3, 1996 9:05 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Lyda Green, Chairman Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Johnny Ellis Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT All members present. COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 540 am "An Act relating to health care data and registration of births." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 465(HES) am "An Act relating to employment of teachers and school administrators and to public school collective bargaining." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HB 540 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 4/1/96. HB 465 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 4/1/96. WITNESS REGISTER Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant Commissioner Perdue Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110601 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0601 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed HB 540. Garrey Peska Hospital & Nursing Home Association 319 Seward Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 540. Al Zangri, Chief Bureau of Vital Statistics Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110675 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0675 POSITION STATEMENT: Viewed HB 540 as a housekeeping measure. Dr. John Middaugh, Chief Epidemiology Section Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 240249 Anchorage, Alaska 99524-0249 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 540. Kimberly Homme, Special Assistant Office of the Commissioner Department of Education 801 W 10th Street, Suite 200 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions. Tom Wright, Staff Representative Ivan State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions. Howard Trickey, Legal Counsel Anchorage School District PO Box 196614 Anchorage, Alaska 99519 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed judicial review. Joe Josephson, Legal Counsel NEA-AK 750 W. 2nd Avenue Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed problems with HB 465 and some of the amendments. Carl Rose, Executive Director Alaska Association of School Boards 316 W 10th Street Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed HB 465 and the amendments. Vernon Marshall, Executive Director NEA-AK 112 Second Street Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed Amendment 7. Larry Wiget, Director Government Relations Anchorage School District PO Box 196614 Anchorage, Alaska 99519 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed Amendment 7. Jean Krause Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed HB 465. Virginia Walters 214 Birch Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the problems posed by HB 465. Jim Simeroth, President Kenai Peninsula Education Association PO Box 925 Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed concerns with HB 465. Jaqueline Dick Hoonah, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 465. Vergie Fryrear Hoonah, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Urged the committee to support HB 465. Lucy Hope, President Mat-Su Education Association PO Box 870887 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 POSITION STATEMENT: Urged the committee to hold HB 465. Bill Munroe Classified Employee Association 2950 Mariann's Place Wasilla, Alaska 99654 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed problems with HB 465. Richard Krause PO Box 3121 Palmer, Alaska 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed problems with HB 465. Rob Pfisterer, President Anchorage Education Association 13210 Spendlove Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99516 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed problems with HB 465. Clarence Bolden NEA-AK 1234 Hillcrest Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the rural situation with respect to HB 465. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-28, SIDE A HB 540 HEALTH CARE DATA; BIRTH REGISTRATIONS Number 002 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:05 a.m. and introduced HB 540 as the first order of business before the committee. ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant in the Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), explained that HB 540 will accomplish changes in law necessary to ensure that DHSS has access to information regarding diseases and conditions of public health significance that are essential to disease surveillance, control, and prevention activities. Civil immunity will be established for providers who comply with the requirements to report health care data. This will also assure DHSS access to health records needed to carry out its mandates and conduct research for the purposes of protecting and promoting public health. These provisions are required to continue eligibility for the federal grant of $420,000 per year which supports a registry of cancer occurrences in the state. Cancer has become the leading cause of death. HB 540 will activate changes needed to implement the electronic birth certificate system and clarify rules for filing and registering births occurring en route to Alaska. This system will reduce filing time from seven to five days in order to comply with requirements of the National Center for Health Statistics. Mr. Lindstrom noted that Dr. Middaugh and Mr. Zangri were on-line. GARREY PESKA, Hospital & Nursing Home Association, supported HB 540. Number 060 AL ZANGRI, Bureau of Vital Statistics in DHSS, said that the bureau considers HB 540 to be a housekeeping measure that will clarify those areas that Mr. Lindstrom mentioned. Mr. Zangri noted that DHSS has already saved a considerable amount of money on the electronic birth certificate system and will implement procedures that will save money for hospitals that will no longer prepare paper certificates to be mailed in to DHSS. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the committee intended to move HB 540 from committee. Unless there is opposing testimony, the committee would proceed with that. DR. JOHN MIDDAUGH, Epidemiology Section of DHSS, supported HB 540. He emphasized that the importance of HB 540 is to maintain the state's eligibility for the $400,000 per year grant for five years in order to establish a statewide cancer registry. Dr. Middaugh informed the committee that the department has coordinated with the March of Dimes who had questions regarding the regulations for the birth defects registry. Those concerns have been satisfied and the department will continue to work closely with the March of Dimes. Dr. Middaugh said that the State Medical Association also supports HB 540. SENATOR SALO said that she hoped that HB 540 was more than a housekeeping measure in that the bill would improve Alaska's data collection system; does HB 540 move forward? DR. JOHN MIDDAUGH replied yes. The provisions in HB 540 facilitate the department's relationship with the hospitals and private physicians in a collaborative manner in order to exchange information about the conditions of public health. SENATOR MILLER moved that HB 540 am be moved out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. HB 465 TEACHERS/ADMINISTRATORS/COLL. BARGAINING Number 120 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced HB 465 as the next order of business before the committee. She informed the committee that she intended to hear testimony today and hold HB 465 until Wednesday to consider the many amendments to the bill. Chairman Green invited witnesses to testify now or after the amendments were discussed. SENATOR SALO felt that it would be helpful for those who wished to testify to have the amendments briefly characterized as well as a general overview. Senator Salo informed the committee that she had amendments to offer. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that there has been indications that the phrase "less than acceptable" is unsatisfactory. Therefore, Amendment 1 was created which ties district standards to the evaluation. SENATOR LEMAN moved that Amendment 1 be adopted. SENATOR SALO objected. She pointed out that many of the amendments head in different directions. Amendment 1 removes the ambiguous language of "less than acceptable" and develops district performance standards. Senator Salo hoped that the district performance standards would be in line with the state performance standards. Amendment 1 is not an acceptable approach because of the removal of the competency standard. Senator Salo was unclear as to the process the committee would follow. Would all the amendments be moved first? Number 200 SENATOR LEMAN believed that if this issue addressed in Amendment 1 is a recurring theme then taking the amendment up now could eliminate some of the testimony on this issue. Senator Leman spoke to Section 12 and the concerns of those who believe that school districts will not be allowed to develop their own performance standards; that was not his intention. Senator Leman emphasized his support of local control for education. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the amendment attempts to return the formulation of the standards to the districts as well as recognizing that there are Department of Education standards in regulation. Those departmental standards should be the standard under which no district goes. The district would choose the point at which they bring or describe their standards. Chairman Green emphasized the importance of local control. SENATOR SALO stressed the importance of a person knowing upon what performance standards they are being evaluated at the beginning. Furthermore, prior evaluations are still important as the relate to the standards during that time. Senator Salo informed the committee that she would be offering an amendment with a delayed effective date in order to ensure that the state standards are in effect on July 1, 1997. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed. She believed that the legislature should encourage districts to develop this language which is what the amendment attempts. Chairman Green intended for every district to exceed the standards established in AS 14.20.149. Number 260 SENATOR ELLIS noted that the state is establishing performance standards for student performance. He asked if the state is also working on performance standards for teachers as well. Senator Ellis was interested in when those standards would be developed at the state level. Senator Ellis asked if Chairman Green's comment indicating that district standards should meet or exceed the state's performance standards for teachers was in the bill or other legislation. CHAIRMAN GREEN believed that was implied. SENATOR ELLIS restated his question; would school districts by statute, once the state performance standards are in place, be required to meet or exceed those standards for teachers and students? Or is this a voluntary guideline? KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant in the Department of Education, said that Senator Ellis was correct. Currently in regulation, there are voluntary performance standards for students. Teacher education standards have been adopted and are in regulation. Ms. Homme pointed out that the teacher education standards are related to teacher performance standards. She had not had a chance to review the amendments. The district performance standards in the other bill were based on the state standards and regulations. Number 315 CHAIRMAN GREEN clarified that the amendment removes the "less than acceptable" language. She referred to the reference to Section 12 on page 2 of Amendment 1. SENATOR ELLIS surmised that the changes to Section 12 meant that the districts would have to meet the state standards in regulation. With enactment of this legislation, all districts would be required to meet the state standards. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that was correct. SENATOR SALO believed that Amendment 1 was an improvement over the "less than acceptable" language. However, the amendment is not an improvement over the current competency standard. Through the judicial record and the current court system there is a definition of incompetency. Senator Salo believed Amendment 1 to be middle ground. SENATOR SALO removed her objection. SENATOR ELLIS inquired as to how the committee will proceed with the amendments. He recommended that the amendments be reviewed quickly and then public testimony could be taken. Senator Ellis understood Senator Leman to say that he wanted to vote on Amendment 1 before public testimony was taken, but not necessarily all the other amendments. SENATOR LEMAN believed that the next amendment could also be addressed now. He explained that he was trying to address areas that had already received public comment in order to eliminate duplicate comments. SENATOR ELLIS said that it would be unfair to force votes on the amendments by Chairman Green and then take public testimony and not have votes on Senator Salo's amendments. He preferred that all the amendments be explained and then public testimony taken. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed. SENATOR LEMAN clarified that he was referring to the consensus amendments. SENATOR MILLER did not believe that any of the amendments had received a consensus. SENATOR SALO said that if Senator Leman removed his motion, then all of the amendments could be reviewed and the testimony could reflect the amendments. SENATOR LEMAN withdrew his motion to adopt Amendment 1. Number 368 CHAIRMAN GREEN explained that Amendment 2 relates to those who are evaluated. Amendment 2 does not require that the evaluation of acceptable or better to be in the current year. The evaluation of acceptable or better could have been within five years. Chairman Green believed this referred to a person teaching in an area other than their degree. SENATOR SALO inquired as to the intent of Amendment 2. CHAIRMAN GREEN said the intent of Amendment 2 was that the evaluation does not have to be in the current year. She read the amendment as it would read in the bill on page 7, line 14. SENATOR MILLER said it would place a time limit so that a teacher who had received an evaluation 10 years ago and had not taught in that subject in the last 10 years would remain qualified for that position under this language. The amendment would place the limitation that the teacher would have to have taught in that position within the last five years or received an evaluation of acceptable or better within the last five years. SENATOR ELLIS asked if the evaluation was not in the last five years, could the teacher be laid off? SENATOR MILLER clarified that the teacher would not be considered qualified for that position. Number 414 TOM WRIGHT, Staff to Representative Ivan, said that Senator Miller's explanation was correct. The drafter suggested that there should be a time limit. He noted that the amendment was before the committee in order to generate discussion to determine whether there should be a time limit or not. SENATOR SALO asked if this gave the district more latitude in not rehiring a teacher after that teacher has been laid off. TOM WRIGHT explained that, if Amendment 2 were adopted, a teacher would have to receive an acceptable or better evaluation, taught and received an evaluation in the subject within five years in order for the teacher to be considered qualified for that particular subject. SENATOR SALO asked if the language was "and" or "or". TOM WRIGHT replied "and". TOM WRIGHT clarified that this language refers to teachers who are teaching outside of their endorsement. SENATOR SALO said that Amendment 2 is a bad amendment. The problem in Alaska, especially in rural Alaska, is that the area for which a teacher is prepared is often much narrower than the need of the school district for which they are hired. For example, a few years ago the teacher of the year was a math teacher who was trained in science. Senator Salo contended that even if that teacher returned to science for the preceding five years, this teacher would still be a wonderful teacher. SENATOR MILLER said that the language is "or" and would take care of Senator Salo's concerns. SENATOR SALO specified the aforementioned situation in which the teacher had an endorsement in science, but taught math for 10 years. Then the teacher is placed in English where she teaches for five years. If the teacher is then laid off under one of these provisions, she would not be qualified to be hired back in a mathematics position. SENATOR MILLER said that Senator Salo would be correct, under Amendment 2, if more than five years had lapsed. Number 474 SENATOR SALO felt that it would be dependent upon how much time before the five years had been spent teaching that subject. There is no seniority consideration in this bill. Senator Salo recognized circumstances where Amendment 2 would be foolish for the district. CHAIRMAN GREEN invited Representative Ivan to the table. She indicated that she and Senator Salo should get together and discuss a new direction for how teachers are qualified to teach subjects. SENATOR SALO pointed out that if this legislation were enacted with the qualifiers on page 7, subsection (d) it would move towards current practice rather than opening the doors for more innovative practice. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that new Amendment 3 had been distributed. Amendment 3 attempts to simplify the language on page 6, lines 3-9. TOM WRIGHT explained that the language was so cumbersome, that he talked with the drafter about simplifying and clarifying the language without losing the intent of the language. SENATOR ELLIS asked if the substance was the same. CHAIRMAN GREEN replied yes. SENATOR SALO felt that the amendment did more than technical clarification. Senator Salo asked if the amendment was suggested by the drafter. TOM WRIGHT reiterated that he had requested that the drafter clarify the language without losing the intent of the original paragraph. Number 516 SENATOR SALO inquired as to the intent of the original paragraph and the ways in which the amendment makes it clearer. TOM WRIGHT said that he would have to have it explained to him. SENATOR LEMAN mentioned that Terry Cramer, the drafter, could probably answer these questions. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that Ms. Cramer's presence at the next meeting would be requested. CHAIRMAN GREEN seemed to think that the locally adopted language which was deleted should be reinserted. TOM WRIGHT said that goes back to Amendment 1 which clarifies the evaluation criteria. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that there is no reason for the language to be repetitive or circular. SENATOR SALO inquired as to how the language was circular. CHAIRMAN GREEN pointed out the repetition of the statute reference. Chairman Green was not sure that it was necessary to place in statute to adopt the standards that are already identified in statute. If the district has not adopted the standards, then the district cannot nonretain a tenured teacher. SENATOR ELLIS pointed out that there are no time limits for the district to adopt standards, but no action can be taken against a teacher until standards are adopted. CHAIRMAN GREEN clarified that the implementation date for these standards is July 1, 1997. SENATOR ELLIS summarized that all local school districts have to adopt local performance standards in line with the state standards by that date. He asked if the district could layoff teachers if the district had not yet adopted the standards. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that currently, districts do not layoff teachers they nonretain teachers. CHAIRMAN GREEN moved on to Amendment 4 by Senator Salo which says that the bill would take effective July 1, 1997. SENATOR SALO explained that Amendment 4 would ensure that the standards referred to in the bill would be in place before the bill takes effect. If the state standards will not be established until 1997, can one assume that the district standards which are based on the state standards would be in place by that time as well. Perhaps, hearing from the districts may help determine if that is possible. Senator Salo discussed Amendment 5. She said that tenure or the lack there of could be a silencing factor for teachers. Amendment 5 would clarify that nothing in the bill would be interpreted to limit a teacher's rights as a citizen or a teacher. Number 576 SENATOR MILLER noted that freedom of speech and association are constitutional rights. He expressed concern with academic freedom. Could a teacher teach that two plus two equals five? Senator Miller did not know what defined academic freedom. SENATOR SALO was unsure as to whether academic freedom was defined in statute, but that could be added. In general, academic freedom means exercising one's professional judgement and usually applies to grading. SENATOR MILLER felt that if this was done a definition of academic freedom would have to be established. CHAIRMAN GREEN informed everyone that conversations with Legislative Legal Services had determined that free speech rights and freedom of association is protected under the constitution. The term academic freedom is not defined in any body of law. Legislative Legal Services advised against including that phrase. SENATOR SALO inquired as to who advised that. TAPE 96-28, SIDE B CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the phrase would not move in the desired direction. She did not know who advised the committee of that. If specific language can be used in order to address Senator Salo's intentions then that would be more appropriate. Chairman Green said that she would not support Amendment 5. SENATOR ELLIS and SENATOR SALO both expressed interest in who in Legislative Legal Services had advised the committee. CHAIRMAN GREEN said Terry Cramer pointed out that academic freedom was not defined in a body of law. SENATOR SALO requested written testimony from Terry Cramer on this matter. TOM WRIGHT clarified that Ms. Cramer said that in the context of the amendment, there is no definition for academic freedom. SENATOR SALO asked if Chairman Green had problems with freedom of speech rights and freedom of association. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that those were already provided for in the constitution. SENATOR MILLER clarified that those are constitutional rights, although the Alaska Supreme Court has differed with regard to freedom of association. Number 571 SENATOR SALO said that she would like that guarantee re-emphasized which is done in many places in statute. The existence of tenure is related to freedom of speech. In the Watson Blue v Seward case, those two teachers were fired because they spoke out against something the superintendent was doing that they thought was wrong. The tenure statutes that are in place today resulted from that case. Senator Salo emphasized that academic freedom, freedom of association and free speech rights are inherent to this discussion of tenure. From discussions with teachers and her experience as a teacher, Senator Salo stressed that this is a problem. SENATOR MILLER informed the committee that he would be offering Amendment 6. He explained that the Anchorage and Fairbanks districts approached him with the concern that the bill allows the school board to be eliminated from the process of dismissing a teacher. Amendment 6 would bring the bill closer to current law which includes the school board in the process. SENATOR SALO noted that the process of dismissing an incompetent teacher is long and expensive process. She wondered why school districts were afraid of third party review. The choice in the bill to go directly to Superior Court and not spend time on discovery twice would potentially save time and money. The only difference between current practice and the bill is that a neutral party is reviewing the case rather than the same party that dismissed the person. SENATOR MILLER did not know a valid reason to not involve the school boards. The school boards are the elected body running the district. In the larger districts, Senator Miller believed that teachers would not have the concern that the school boards are out to get someone. Therefore, the ability to advance to Superior Court to review the record in order to determine if due process was followed or not and if the Trial de Novo would be appropriate. SENATOR SALO expressed interest in what a judicial review would encompass. Senator Salo believed that a judicial review would ensure that the person has been heard, not that the charges were legitimate. CHAIRMAN GREEN pointed out that one of the duties of the school board is to be involved in dismissals as well as approvals for hiring. Is there a point when the school district would be held responsible for a process in which the district was not involved? SENATOR SALO pointed out that the district would be involved in the dismissal of a teacher because the school board would have to approve that dismissal. The school board acts on all hirings, resignations, and dismissals. If this is missing, Senator Salo suggested that it be placed in the bill. She emphasized that the district should not be fearful of a third party review. Number 481 HOWARD TRICKEY, representing the Anchorage School District, informed the committee that the Fairbanks School District had also requested that he represent them today as well. With regards to Senator Salo's interest in judicial review, Mr. Trickey explained the process. Under the proposed amendment, if there is a hearing before the school board the court's review of that hearing would determine by the substantial evidence test if there was evidence to support the school board's decision. The court can also review the record to determine if the teacher was afforded a constitutional due process hearing before the board. The court can grant a Trial de Novo if that did not occur. Mr. Trickey clarified that the court makes an independent review and decision that there was substantial evidence before the school board to support the decision. That meets the teacher's interest in due process in any proceedings to nonretain a teacher for incompetency. JOE JOSEPHSON, Legal Counsel for NEA-AK, pointed out that NEA-AK has always sought a level forum in order to determine whether there is cause for dismissal. That cannot be achieved under Amendment 6. Under the amendment, a teacher is charged with grounds for dismissal and a hearing on that matter is held. The school board who approved the initial charge, makes the decision and then the teacher has the right to appeal to the court for judicial review. Mr. Josephson agreed that the court could determine if due process was followed, but the court will affirm the school board's decision if there is substantial evidence for sustaining that decision. The court does not have the benefit of having a witness before it, the court is only reviewing paper. Mr. Josephson emphasized that a teacher can only prevail if the teacher can illustrate that there was no substantial evidence to support the school board's decision. If a clerk in the Division of Motor Vehicles is fired, that clerk receives a level playing field: the State Personnel Board. That clerk would go before a statewide board, not the agency that fired the clerk. Mr. Josephson stated that a teacher would be second class under Amendment 6. Mr. Josephson thought that the argument was that school boards were concerned that under the existing law the boards have to go through a costly process twice. Teachers agreed to move from two proceedings to one so long as a level playing field was maintained. Under the amendment, that would not happen. SENATOR MILLER requested a summary of the cases in the last 20 years that have advanced to Superior Court in order to illustrate the record on those cases. Senator Miller believed that in the majority of such cases, the court would uphold the district. JOE JOSEPHSON agreed that under existing law with the Trial de Novo option there is a level playing field. However, under the amendment, the teacher only has the right to appeal. SENATOR MILLER reiterated the desire to review the cases of the last 20 years. He predicted that such a review would find that the Superior Court has upheld the decisions of the school board in the majority of the cases. Number 397 CARL ROSE, Executive Director of the Alaska Association of School Boards, informed the committee that he had submitted written testimony, but noted that the numbers were two years old. He believed that some seven cases were cited and the information was discussing the cost of the Trial de Novo. Often insurance companies will step in and not allow the case to move forward because of the assumed cost. Mr. Rose said that the association has long sought to remove the Trial de Novo. He informed the committee that the school board does not act on every dismissal or nonretention, that is the recommendation of the administrator. SENATOR SALO interjected that the board acts on the recommendation of the administrator. CARL ROSE replied at an appeal process. He said that as a quasi judicial body, an appeal process must be provided in a nonretention. Mr. Rose felt it inaccurate to suggest that the board acts beforehand and then sit in appeal. A recommendation is made to the board and the board must weigh that recommendation and the evidence provided at the local hearing. Mr. Rose suggested that if one can prove that the board acted beforehand and then sat in appeal, then due process rights were curtailed. HOWARD TRICKEY informed the committee that he had represented school districts in urban and rural Alaska for 20 years. In his experience, school boards are well trained and aware of their constitutional obligation to provide due process in the case of a dismissal or nonretention. In Anchorage, the procedures for a due process hearing are as follows: the board members are advised of a possible recommendation and their constitutional obligation in the matter, and then there are evidentiary proceedings. In the past, a retired judge has been hired to preside over the evidentiary proceedings. Mr. Trickey pointed out that in rural Alaska the school board often employs an independent attorney to conduct the evidentiary proceedings and ensure a fair process. Mr. Trickey echoed the sentiment that it was wrong to assume that teachers do not receive fair proceedings. He said that the school boards he represents object to having two processes as is the case under existing law. Furthermore, the school boards do not want to be eliminated from the process either because that is the manner in which the board applies their own standard. JOE JOSEPHSON pointed out that the school board hires and pays for the hearing officer when indicating that people tend to follow the recommendations of the staff. The separation of power does not exist at the school board level. SENATOR SALO requested the number of school board hearings and the number of those that have been upheld and those that have not been upheld. Senator Salo thought that the notion that the board does not know anything about the case they are about to hear is farfetched. Fairness cannot be sacrificed for the sake of time and money. With regard to Mr. Trickey's idea of a hearing officer, Senator Salo believed that was discussed early on in this bill. Senator Salo objected to Amendment 6 which eliminates a major portion of the fairness in the bill and makes it more objectional to the professionals in the field than before. Number 297 SENATOR MILLER continued on with Amendment 7 which refers to the employee improvement plan and shortens the specified time in order for the plan to fall within the school year. CHAIRMAN GREEN interjected that the amendment merely uses the standard teacher work year. SENATOR MILLER pointed out that this concern was brought forth by some of the school district who wanted to bring the plan of improvement within the school year. SENATOR SALO inquired as to how this amendment would work if the teacher was given a plan of improvement on May 15th. SENATOR MILLER explained that it would have to carry into the next year. SENATOR SALO asked if the teacher would be removed around April or how would this work? SENATOR MILLER said that the plan of improvement cannot be more than 180 work days, but could certainly be less than 180 work days although not less than 90 days. SENATOR SALO expressed concern that the opposite effect would be achieved under the amendment. She felt that there was a better way in which to accomplish the goal of having the plan within the school year by referring to the ensuing school year. VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director of NEA-AK, pointed out that there are employees that are on 10-12 month contracts. When the amendment was considered in the House, he assumed that it was to consider the standard contract of nine months as well as including those who had a 12 month contract. This would allow at least an employment year for the teacher, no matter the contract length, to correct the problem. Number 251 LARRY WIGET, Director of Government Relations for the Anchorage School District, clarified that the work day was specified in order to address administrators who work beyond the normal nine months. Changing the plan of improvement time to 90 work days would enable the school district to complete the evaluation process in a single school year. By law a tenured teacher must be notified by March 15th if the teacher will not be retained by the school district for the next year. Also a tenured teacher placed on a plan of improvement after the evaluation in October would not have to complete the nine month process by the March 15th deadline, too late to be dismissed for the coming school year if the teacher fails to make improvements outlined in the plan. That would ensure a full year of employment and extend the plan of improvement beyond 12 months. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that she could see both sides of the issue. She continued with Amendment 8. Hearing no discussion, Chairman Green announced that testimony would now be taken. SENATOR SALO said that she would give the committee her amendments later, since the amendments are not being moved and there are time constraints. She hoped that the committee would hear from NEA at some point. A discussion ensued between Senator Salo and Chairman Green regarding the procedure for taking testimony. Number 205 JEAN KRAUSE, testifying from Fairbanks, asked if it was intended for the teacher's performance standards to be adopted and remain in place for a period of time or that the standards be subject to frequent and radical change by the local school board during the school year. Will the performance standards for teachers be developed for all teachers and applied evenly or will the standards be different for teachers in different levels, subjects and fields? Furthermore, will the district be obligated to provide teachers with the support, resources, and assistance to ensure that teachers have a fair chance to meet the standards or improve their performance? Ms. Krause noted that many teachers supply many of the resources for the classroom from their own resources. Can an illiterate board member participate in a dismissal proceeding? Ms. Krause pointed out that performance standards for administrators is not addressed in the bill. She asked if administrative performance standards had been developed by the state. Are these administrative performance standards intended to be developed and adopted before the bill is implemented? Ms. Krause informed the committee that she had asked the following question in the House, but failed to receive an answer. If an administrator is on a plan of improvement, can that administrator evaluate teachers and place a teacher on a plan of improvement? In Ms. Krause's opinion, the superintendent is an important part of the educational process due to their ability to allocate resources and make recommendations regarding hiring and firing. However, there do not seem to be any performance standards for superintendents. Are performance standards for superintendents intended to be developed and if so, at the state or local level or both? Will the same expectations be placed on superintendents as are on teachers and administrators? In conclusion, Ms. Krause inquired as to how local politics would be eliminated from evaluation procedures of administrators and teachers. Ms. Krause offered to fax her written testimony to the committee. Number 150 VIRGINIA WALTERS, testifying from Kenai, stated that the evaluation process is important to maintaining teacher quality in the schools. The evaluation process should not be subject to whim or personal subjectivity. Ms. Walters noted that the evaluation process outlined in HB 465 poses many problems. Will the evaluation of teachers become a popularity contest? She inquired as to what would happen when a community member raises objection to a teacher's performance, but the administrator has no objection to the teacher's performance. Ms. Walters referred to page 4 subsection (h) which says that information provided for the school district under the evaluation is not subject to public disclosure. Will all teachers be treated equally? On page 3, subparagraph (6) the language allows a teacher to be placed on a plan of improvement while another can be dismissed immediately. Ms. Walters asked why one teacher would be entitled to a plan of improvement while another would not; is there any criteria for this? She inquired as to who the school district is on page 4 of the bill. Why would the principal who gave a negative evaluation to a teacher not determine the plan of improvement? As a retired teacher and community member, Ms. Walters was surprised that a superintendent of a district would not be held to the same public evaluation process and review of their performance as teachers and principles. She suggested that line 32 on page 2 be reviewed. JIM SIMEROTH, President of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, expressed concern with the reduction in staff provisions of HB 465. He informed the committee that currently, his district had nonretained 117 teachers although the district intends to hire most if not all of those teachers back. Mr. Simeroth speculated that the reason for so many nonretained teachers is because it is a contract bargaining year. He believed this to be totally inappropriate. Mr. Simeroth felt that HB 465 could possibly allow this situation to occur with any teacher which would disrupt the school for the students. Therefore, he was concerned with the layoff language which is not in the best interest of the students. Mr. Simeroth discussed a case in which a teacher was placed on a needs improvement plan. The teacher was placed on the plan not because she had a teaching deficit, but because she did not show support and respect for the principal and his ideas on and off the school campus 100 percent of the time. The needs improvement plan said that the teacher should demonstrate support and enthusiasm for activities suggested by others and the principal. Mr. Simeroth indicated that such a situation would take away a teacher's freedom of speech and academic freedom. Mr. Simeroth emphasized that this could not be allowed to happen and disrupt the educational process which HB 465 will achieve. Mr. Simeroth said that he had other issues to discuss, but would stop since his time was up. Number 043 VERGIE FRYREAR, testifying from Hoonah, requested that one of the Hoonah board members be allowed to speak first. JAQUELINE DICK, testifying from Hoonah, supported HB 465. She noted that children today are beyond the basic education of the past. Ms. Dick said that everyone expects higher education for their children and quality teachers and teaching. More time is needed for teachers to improve their teaching performance. VERGIE FRYREAR believed that employee evaluations for teachers should be completed in the current school year. Furthermore, the teacher must receive a positive evaluation in the last five years in the subject matter they are to teach at the secondary level. TAPE 96-29, SIDE A Ms. Fryrear agreed that administrators do need an evaluation. She recognized the importance of allowing local districts to maintain some control, but by adopting statewide standards everyone is bound by a degree of similarity. With regard to tenure, Ms. Fryrear could not believe that any teacher would be afraid to talk to a legislator about an administrator. These are highly educated people. Such a discussion loses sight of the reason tenure is even being considered. Administrators and school boards need more time to evaluate a teacher's performance before allowing tenure. Also more time is necessary to offer assistance to the teacher before a decision regarding nonretention is made. Ms. Fryrear believed that the school board should be part of the process for the dismissal of teachers. The Superior Court can determine whether the process is followed correctly or not. She did not think that school districts were afraid of cases going to Superior Court as previously suggested. There is a good appeal process for teachers already in place. Number 041 Ms. Fryrear spoke to Amendment 7. She believed that it would be difficult to place a time line on all improvements because teachers are often required to complete a course as part of their plan of improvement. Some of that control should be left to the district. Ms. Fryrear believed that HB 465 would address some of the problems education is experiencing. She urged the committee to support and pass HB 465. LUCY HOPE, President of the Mat-Su Education Association, expressed frustration with the process pushing HB 465 through. She informed the committee that CS HB 465, the version the House passed, was not available in Mat-Su until 9:00 a.m. of the HESS hearing on Monday. On Monday, 11 people waited to testify, each person's time was limited to two minutes, and then six people had to leave without having a chance to speak. Ms. Hope explained that many people could not return today because they had taken their leave to be present on Monday. She informed the committee that she had some of their written testimony and would fax it to the committee. Ms. Hope asked if the committee had received the testimony that had been faxed. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the committee had received several faxed testimonies, but she had not yet reviewed them. The testimony would be distributed. LUCY HOPE addressed the layoff provisions of the bill. She informed the committee that she had received official notice that the Mat-Su School District plans to layoff 170 teachers. All of those teachers are nontenured and face losing their job permanently as well as losing their ability to make a living which could force them to move. Ms. Hope pointed out that the Mat-Su school district would qualify for the layoff provision every year as having significant reductions in per-pupil expenditures due to the decrease in revenue from one year to the next. The state funding formula has been frozen since the early 1990s, the borough contribution has shown a decrease each year in per-pupil funding since 1990, and the certainty of less from the federal government all contribute to this situation. Ms. Hope explained that all these factors along with the growth in the area decrease the per- pupil expenditure. Therefore, teachers in the Mat-Su who have received tenure are subject to nonretention even though their performance may be excellent. These layoffs create anxiety and low morale which effects the children. Ms. Hope believed that the trigger for the layoff of teachers should be more specific and should be tied to the reduction in basic needs which is defined in law. Tenured teachers should be assured that all nontenured teachers would be laid off first and not merely given a notice of nonretention as stated in HB 465. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if Ms. Hope would prefer this to be tied to basic need; was that in SB 217? LUCY HOPE believed that was in SB 217. Ms. Hope continued by suggesting that the layoff provision should be bargained at the local level as is the case in Mat-Su. She pointed out that by extending the time to receive tenure to three years would increase the number of nontenured teachers by one-third. The Mat-Su district would then have 220 teachers to layoff with the current law. Ms. Hope asked if layoffs occur by statute and are implemented incorrectly, what avenue would be available for the teacher? She informed the committee that the Department of Education's performance standards refer to a classroom teacher in a public school. Is the department planning on adopting standards for administrators before HB 465 would go into effect? Ms. Hope urged the committee to hold the bill in order to bring everyone effected together in order to address these concerns in a meaningful way. Number 152 BILL MUNROE, Classified Employee's Association and parent, pointed out that evaluation procedures already exist and are being utilized in the Mat-Su district. More evaluations could be productive management tools if they were utilized for constructive criticism for better teaching skills. Furthermore, layoff provisions already exist that work. HB 465 does little to improve public education. The mandatory student standards are necessary. Mr. Munroe said that valuable programs had been cut because of flat funding which has been eroded by 24 percent inflation since 1989. The committee should consider HB 398. He referred to page 6, Section 10 when asking if both paragraph (1) and (2) must be met or only one of the two. He inquired as to the meaning of "comport" on page 8, line 9. Mr. Munroe felt that HB 465 is too confusing and convoluted. RICHARD KRAUSE, testifying from Palmer, believed that the current evaluation system attempts to solve a problem. Under HB 465, the evaluation system creates the threat of nonretention rather than the administrator helping the teacher improve. That is not a very healthy situation. HB 465 seems to create a great level of fear. Mr. Krause did not see that the teacher has any input into the plan of improvement which he indicated should be incorporated. The layoff provisions in the bill seem rather loose. The bill should outline how layoff would occur, especially in light of the discussions regarding academic freedom. CHAIRMAN GREEN informed those remaining to testify that the committee had to leave for the Senator floor shortly and requested that their comments be brief. Number 249 ROB PFISTERER, President of the Anchorage Education Association, opposed HB 465. He explained that tenure statutes were designed to protect teachers from being fired indiscriminately. HB 465 intends to weaken the individual's protection from indiscriminate action from administrators and school boards. There are state's, predominately Southern states, that have incorporated HB 465 into their statute. When comparing those states' scores on standardized tests to those states with strong tenure laws will illustrate the impacts that decisions on HB 465 will have. HB 465 will demoralize teachers throughout Alaska. Mr. Pfisterer acknowledged that HB 465 has one redeeming feature, the bill touches evaluations. Even so, the bill is not acceptable. HB 465 is based on standards that have not yet been determined. He pointed out that some school districts already have standards in place; will a different system be mandated and will the state determine what local communities have already worked on? Mr. Pfisterer said that it has come to the point that parents and students are evaluating the teacher. Therefore, will the teacher be afforded the academic freedom to grade impartially? Evaluations should be done on a professional basis. He noted that most aspects of HB 465 are weighted heavily on the agenda of the school board. Mr. Pfisterer discussed the various related legislations this year. He posed the following questions for the committee to consider when reviewing the combined effect of education related legislation: would you advise people new to the profession to become a teacher in Alaska, will this attract the best and brightest to the profession, will students be better prepared for the future if these legislations pass? HB 465 and other legislation are counterproductive to improving education. With regard to comments made on Monday regarding the attempt to meet the Governor's requirements in HB 465, Mr. Pfisterer wondered why all these amendments were being considered to try to reach where HB 398 already is. He suggested that HB 398 was a bill that many parties agreed upon while HB 465 does not receive much agreement. Number 312 CLARENCE BOLDEN, NEA-AK, said that he represented Kodiak and the Aleutian Chain with Dillingham and Northwest Arctic. He informed the committee that there was almost an uprising of citizens in the Northwest Arctic last month. This impacted the school and the tenured teachers. He wondered if changes made under HB 465 would improve this situation or make it more volatile. The parents literally attacked the teachers when they were confused about how to get information through the school board. The school board has reacted by decreasing the rights of the tenured teachers in this district. Mr. Bolden suggested that the committee consider rural situations where the school boards are not necessarily well versed in how processes should go. Establishing standards for teachers should include lots of parents and teachers in order to have a usable standard. CHAIRMAN GREEN said that concluded those on-line to testify. She said that Mr. Marshall would be heard first next Wednesday. SENATOR SALO expressed frustration. When an issue has two distinct sides, she expects to hear from the heads of the relevant organizations in the beginning in order to frame the remaining testimony. There being no further business before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 11:02 a.m.