Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/09/1997 09:04 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         April 9, 1997                                         
                           9:04 a.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman                                                 
 Senator Loren Leman, Vice Chairman                                            
 Senator Lyda Green                                                            
 Senator Jerry Ward                                                            
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 All members present.                                                          
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 145(HES)                                                
 "An Act relating to certification of teachers."                               
  -MOVED CSHB 145(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
 SENATE BILL NO. 96                                                            
 "An Act regulating hospice care."                                             
  - MOVED CSSB 96(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
 SENATE BILL NO. 146                                                           
 "An Act relating to the public school funding program; relating to            
 the definition of a school district, to the transportation of                 
 students, to school district layoff plans, to the special education           
 service agency, to the child care grant program; imposing a school            
 tax in the unorganized borough; and providing for an effective                
  - HEARD AND HELD                                                             
 SENATE BILL NO. 142                                                           
 "An Act relating to formation of and taxation in regional                     
 educational attendance areas; and providing for an effective date."           
  - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                    
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB 145 - No previous Senate action to record.                                 
 SB 96 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services Committee              
         minutes dated 2/24/97, 3/21/97 and 4/7/97.                            
 SB 146 - See Senate Health and Social Services Committee minutes              
          dated 3/24/97 and 4/4/97.                                            
 SB 142 - No previous Senate action to record.                                 
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Representative Con Bunde                                                      
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of HB 145.                               
 Nancy Buell, Director                                                         
 Division of Teaching & Learning Support                                       
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 W 10th Street, Suite 200                                                  
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Did not oppose CSHB 145(HES).                          
 John Cyr, President                                                           
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported CSHB 145(HES).                               
 Senator Wilken                                                                
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of SB 146.                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 97-37, SIDE A                                                           
           HB 145 TEACHING COMPETENCY EXAM FOR CERTIF                         
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  called the Senate Health, Education & Social                
 Services Committee (HES) to order at 9:04 a.m. and announced that             
 SB 142 will not be taken up today.  Chairman Wilken passed the                
 confirmation letter for the committee to sign.  Chairman Wilken               
 then announced that  CSHB 145(HES)  was the first order of business.          
  REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE , Prime Sponsor, believed that                      
 CSHB 145(HES) was a win-win bill.  Currently, the only                        
 qualification to receive a Type A certificate in Alaska is to have            
 a college degree in the area of education.  Representative Bunde              
 said that sometimes a college degree does not a teacher make.  This           
 is part of an organized House effort to instill further confidence            
 in Alaska's educational system.  CSHB 145(HES) requires that                  
 teachers take a basic competency test before being issued a                   
 license.  Representative Bunde believed that most would pass this             
 test and he recognized that graduates from the University of Alaska           
 system in education already take a screening test before entering             
 the program.  However, about 50 percent of Alaska's teachers are              
 hired from the Lower 48 and there is no quality control for those             
 folks.  This test is similar to that existing in 40 other states.             
  SENATOR LEMAN  did not disagree with Representative Bunde's initial          
 statement that a college degree does not a teacher make.  Senator             
 Leman added that just passing a competency exam does not a teacher            
 make either.  He expressed concern that the notion that merely                
 passing an exam or receiving certification signified a good                   
 teacher.  Senator Leman said that he agreed with much of                      
 Representative Dyson's article on this matter.  Senator Leman                 
 inquired as to Representative Bunde's opinion on Representative               
 Dyson's article which said that a non-existent problem was being              
 attacked or the problem is being attacked in the wrong manner.                
 Number 130                                                                    
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE  said that he read Representative Dyson's               
 article.  Representative Bunde acknowledged that realtors and                 
 insurance sales staff must pass basic competency tests in order to            
 work in Alaska which does not ensure the best either.  Other                  
 qualifications are also utilized in determining whether one would             
 do business with a person and that applies to teachers as well.               
 With regard to the article, Representative Dyson wants to manage              
 output rather than input to which Representative Bunde did not want           
 to eliminate any tool that was available.                                     
 Part of Representative Dyson's concerns stemmed from situations in            
 Arkansas, Virginia and Tennessee.  In those states, the state could           
 not find a teacher who passed the test that would work for the                
 wages paid.  Representative Bunde did not believe that to be a                
 problem for Alaska due to teachers' wages here.  Representative               
 Dyson is concerned that if the criteria is raised, those in the               
 profession would request more money.  Representative Bunde                    
 acknowledged that possibility and stated that Representative                  
 Dyson's notions do not necessarily apply to Alaska.  Representative           
 Bunde agreed with the notion that CSHB 145(HES) will not effect the           
 really competent teachers.  However there have been teachers that             
 are not terribly literate or competent in their specialty area, and           
 those teachers should be screened out.  As with children, one bad             
 apple taints the public image of the entire group.                            
  SENATOR LEMAN  wanted to ensure that Superintendents and                     
 Administrators were not sent the message that this legislation                
 would eliminate the need to continue the competency reviews and               
 plan of improvements when necessary.                                          
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE  commented that the passage of last year's              
 tenure reform bill requires school boards, superintendents, and               
 principles to evaluate teachers and help teachers when necessary.             
  SENATOR WARD  inquired as to the location of page 2 of the letter            
 from NEA-AK.   SENATOR GREEN  noted that it was located on the back           
 of the first page.                                                            
 Number 224                                                                    
  NANCY BUELL , Director of the Division of Teaching & Learning                
 Support in the Department of Education, said that the department              
 does support this bill or anything designed to raise the quality of           
 the education work force in Alaska.  Ms. Buell echoed Senator                 
 Leman's comments that a single test will probably not make the                
 difference.  There are 44 states that have such tests.  Ms. Buell             
 believed that the emphasis should be on the performance standards             
 of teachers and evaluations of the teachers.  Other states with               
 such a test are reviewing more stringent procedures to ensure                 
 teacher quality.                                                              
 With regard to the portion of the bill which requests that the                
 state board review nationally recognized tests and select a test as           
 well as a cut-off score, that is not a simple process.  The board             
 will need to meet to receive expert assistance in order to                    
 determine a legally defensible cut-off score.  Ms. Buell noted that           
 nationally this area is on the brink of major new instruments.                
 Most states are participating in a joint effort among the                     
 accrediting agency for colleges of teacher education, professional            
 associations, and state directors of teacher education and                    
 certification.  This joint effort is attempting to develop a new              
 assessment for new teachers.  This assessment will include a test             
 of teaching knowledge, demonstration of ability to teach in                   
 performance assessment and provision of a portfolio.  Ms. Buell               
 stressed the importance of the board having the time, support, and            
 expertise to select a test.                                                   
  JOHN CYR , President of NEA-AK, believed that it spoke well that the         
 department, the House Majority, and NEA-AK are all concerned with             
 improving the quality of education in Alaska.  Mr. Cyr supported              
 CSHB 145(HES) and said that it will improve instruction and                   
 education.  This is a small piece of the puzzle, but it is                    
 important.  Once a teacher is hired, it is up to the principle, the           
 administration, and the school board to do evaluations and plans of           
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  said that he intended to pass this bill to its next         
 committee of referral.                                                        
  SENATOR LEMAN  moved to report CSHB 145(HES) out of committee with           
 individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.  Without            
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE  noted that the fiscal note reflected the one           
 time set up charge, after which applicants would be charged a fee             
 that would become program receipts.  The fiscal note would be zero            
 in the next years.                                                            
 At brief at ease was taken from 9:19 a.m. to 9:21 a.m.                        
               SB  96 REGULATION OF HOSPICE CARE                              
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  announced  SB 96  as the next order of business.            
 Chairman Wilken noted that SB 96 was held upon the request of                 
 Senator Ward and no testimony would be taken today.                           
  SENATOR WARD  moved to adopt Amendment 1 as follows:                         
  1. Eliminate Article 2 in its entirety.                                      
  2. Add in place of Article 2                                                 
     "The provisions of this bill are to apply to Certified and                
          Resident Hospices only and not to Volunteer Hospice                  
  3. Add under AS 18.18.390 Definitions:                                       
     Line 17, "volunteer" means a trained individual who works                 
         for a hospice program without compensation.                           
     Line 18, "volunteer hospice program" means a hospice                      
         program that provides all direct patient care at no charge.           
  SENATOR GREEN  objected.                                                     
 Upon a roll call vote, Senators Wilken, Green, and Ellis voted                
 "Nay" and Senators Leman and Ward voted "Yeah".  Therefore,                   
 Amendment 1 failed to be adopted.                                             
  SENATOR LEMAN  moved to report SB 96 out of committee with                   
 individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.  Without            
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
         SB 146 PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING/CHILD CARE GRANTS                       
 Number 364                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  announced that  SB 146  was the final order of              
 business before the committee.  Chairman Wilken passed the gavel to           
 Vice Chair Leman.                                                             
  VICE CHAIR LEMAN  noted that testimony beyond the sponsor's                  
 statements would not be taken today.                                          
  SENATOR WILKEN  noted that there were packets which contained SB 146         
 and other relevant data.  SB 146 is a result of the testimony taken           
 on CSSB 36(HES).  Senator Wilken said that SB 146 is an alternative           
 to CSSB 36(HES).  Senator Wilken then began an overview of the                
 packet (See Attachment A).  The front cover of the packet                     
 illustrates the four pieces of the pie of public school funding to            
 which everything in the packet relates.  Senator Wilken noted the             
 sponsor statement in the packet which contains the following quote            
 by Bill Demerest, "Long-term solutions create short-term                    
 difficulties".  On page 5 of the packet there is a map delineating            
 the organization of the state with regard to school districts.                
 Senator Wilken pointed out that 14 percent of Alaska's students are           
 located in 70 percent of the school districts.  Perhaps, that is a            
 problem in the current foundation.  Page 6 defines the four pieces            
 of the pie as well as the components to the piece of the pie.                 
 Senator Wilken noted that adjusted ADM is a cumulative                        
 multiplication factor of the size, area cost differential, and                
 single site.  Page 7 begins an analysis of which the majority is a            
 Senator Wilken directed the committee to page 25 regarding assessed           
 value per ADM which is the heart of SB 146.  Page 26 contains a               
 graphic disparity of wealth between the boroughs in Alaska.  The              
 following page graphically applies the assessed value per student.            
 The basic element of SB 146 is that if a government has the ability           
 to pay for its educational needs, then that is done and at the per            
 student level.  Senator Wilken pointed out that the graph on page             
 27 illustrates that the North Slope Borough School District has the           
 capacity of about $6.8 million assessment per student to fund the             
 district's educational needs.  The average in true ADM is $400,000            
 assessed value per year.  The assessed value is relevant in that it           
 is determined by the free market.  It rises and falls in relation             
 to the overall wealth of the state as well as a district's ability            
 to pay.  On page 28, the assessed value with the adjusted ADM tends           
 to narrow the numbers.  For example, on this graph the North Slope            
 Borough School District has the capacity for $2.6 million per                 
 student and the average ADM falls to $300,000.                                
 Number 438                                                                    
 Senator Wilken directed the committee to the required local effort            
 portion.  If an area is organized the required local effort is 3              
 mills of the assessed value or 100 percent of the state support,              
 whichever is less.  Therefore, every government in Alaska will pay            
 3 mills of its assessed value, except for the North Slope Borough             
 which will be required to pay about 1.8 mills of its assessed                 
 value.  The REAA gross wage tax is addressed on pages 29-31.                  
 Senator Wilken noted that all the numbers are run with a three                
 percent gross payroll tax collected quarterly through the                     
 Department of Revenue.  Page 31 illustrates the amount of wealth in           
 1995 in the amount of gross wages created in the REAAs.                       
 Senator Wilken noted that there is a transition period during which           
 there is money available in the first year.  The 1997 numbers                 
 essentially apply to 1998.  Page 33 lists those school districts              
 that are negatively effected.  By the year 2002, the new formula              
 would be in full effect.  Senator Wilken pointed out that the                 
 assessment normalization component had been added in response to              
 testimony regarding the effects to programs and students.  He noted           
 that an amount must be assumed in order to equalize.  Assessment              
 normalization essentially takes money from the districts with the             
 ability to create more wealth and places it in the communities                
 which lack the ability to create wealth.  Senator Wilken explained            
 that the money is accumulated according to a districts pro-rata               
 share of the assessed value of the state.  For example, Anchorage             
 has about 42 percent of the state's assessed value which translates           
 into a contribution of 42 percent of the three mills.  The money is           
 taken out based on head count.  Since Anchorage has 31 percent of             
 the adjusted ADM in Alaska, Anchorage only takes 31 percent of the            
 money while contributing 42 percent.  If a district's assessed                
 percent and adjusted ADM are the same, then that district would               
 receive as much as it contributes.  If a district's assessed value            
 is greater than the adjusted ADM, then that district would be a net           
 donor.  If a district's assessed value is less than the adjusted              
 ADM, that district would gain through the formula.  Senator Wilken            
 stressed that the North Slope Borough School District is not                  
 included in that because the North Slope is already paying for its            
 educational needs.                                                            
 The summary tables are located on pages 39-42.  Senator Wilken                
 suggested that placing the Combined State Support on page 40 beside           
 the Assessed Value column on page 41 allows viewing of the new                
 formula start to finish.  The information on page 42 regarding                
 state support with the 3 mill normalization per ADM assumes the               
 following:  1.5 percent student growth each year for the next five            
 years, a 3 percent wage tax generating $15 million from the REAAs,            
 and a 3 mill normalization.  The ADMs increase and decrease in                
 almost every district for different reasons.  Those districts that            
 experience a decrease should review the district's categorical                
 funding under the existing formula versus the proposed formula.               
 Districts with a decrease should review the number of sites in the            
 district with regard to the two units front loading; the greater              
 the sites in a district, the more front loading is experienced.               
 The new formula does not have a front loading component as the old            
 formula.  A district experiencing a decrease should also review the           
 value of the individual school district as it relates to the value            
 of other school districts.                                                    
 Senator Wilken directed the committee to page 38, the effects of              
 normalization.  As the 3 mill rate is approached the greater amount           
 is collected from the wealthier communities and distributed to the            
 less wealthy communities.  The higher the mill rate the more money            
 is accumulated to be divided up.  Senator Wilken noted it is a                
 political call, someone will have to determine where the sliding              
 scale starts and stops.  The differences between the current                  
 formula and the proposal are located on pages 35 and 36.                      
  VICE CHAIR   LEMAN  asked if the committee had any questions.                
 Number 524                                                                    
  SENATOR ELLIS  acknowledged that the proposed formula would not              
 consider the PL874 money.  Is there a way to calculate the greatest           
 potential disparity between per capita distribution to a student in           
 the wealthiest and the poorest school districts?  Is there a way in           
 which to assess the existing formula versus the proposed formula in           
 regards to potential disparity?  Senator Ellis said that he was not           
 advocating consideration of PL874 money.   SENATOR WILKEN  did not            
 know, but offered to work on that question.  Senator Wilken asked             
 if that would be measured on ADM or adjusted ADM.   SENATOR ELLIS             
 said he would have to think about that.                                       
  SENATOR ELLIS  inquired as to the reactions of various groups on             
 SB 146.   SENATOR WILKEN  characterized SB 146 as receiving cautious          
 optimism; it is a place to begin.  Senator Wilken expected to hear            
 some concerns, but the proposed formula no longer glosses over the            
 structural problems in Alaska regarding how education is funded.              
 Over the last month, there have been some excellent pro and con               
 discussions on the proposal.  Senator Wilken indicated that there             
 was a fairly good basis of support.                                           
  SENATOR ELLIS  asked if there had been consideration of SB 11 when           
 developing SB 146.  There is a cumulative impact of that and SB 146           
 and other related legislation; was SB 11 factored into the                    
 operational funding being proposed?   SENATOR WILKEN  replied no.             
 SB 11 is now in Senate Finance where the percentage is back down to           
 50 percent.  Senator Wilken believed that these efforts can only              
 help people feel better and perhaps loosen the purse strings with             
 regard to building schools statewide.                                         
 Number 576                                                                    
  SENATOR ELLIS  noted that the University of Alaska Board of Regents'         
 request for remedial education and developmental education through            
 the foundation formula or other funding sources is not included in            
 SB 146.  Senator Ellis hoped the committee would review that                  
 request and the accompanying issues.   SENATOR WILKEN  believed that          
 everyone was concerned with the University's comments that some               
 entering students need remedial education before beginning college.           
  SENATOR WILKEN  hoped that SB 146 would be held.                             
  TAPE 97-37, SIDE B                                                           
 In response to an inquiry about receiving testimony,  VICE CHAIR              
 LEMAN  announced that no testimony would be taken today, but written          
 testimony would be accepted.  SB 146 will be held.  Hearing no                
 further questions, Vice Chair Leman returned the gavel to Senator             
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  asked if there was anything else to come before the         
  SENATOR ELLIS  inquired as to the progress of the sex offender               
 registration bill.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN WILKEN  said that he would report on that matter on Friday.          
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 was adjourned at 9:54 a.m.                                                    

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