Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/20/2001 02:05 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE April 20, 2001 2:05 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Vice Chair Senator Gary Wilken Senator Jerry Ward Senator Bettye Davis MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Lyda Green, Chair COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 178 "An Act relating to the detention of delinquent minors and to temporary detention hearings; amending Rule 12, Alaska Delinquency Rules; and providing for an effective date." MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 11 "An Act relating to the legal age for attending school; and providing for an effective date." HEARD AND HELD SENATE BILL NO. 41 "An Act relating to kindergarten programs and compulsory education; and providing for an effective date." HEARD AND HELD CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 99(HES) "An Act relating to school discipline and safety programs; and providing for an effective date." MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 203(FIN) "An Act making an appropriation to the Legislative Council for a study of school district cost factors; and providing for an effective date." HEARD AND HELD SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 149 "An Act relating to employment incentives for teachers and health care providers, to reemployment of retired teachers, to loans to and loan forgiveness for teachers and health care providers, to awards to teachers, to eligibility for major medical insurance coverage for beneficiaries of the teachers' retirement system, and to teacher certificates; and providing for an effective date." MOVED CSSB 149(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 188 "An Act establishing an education fund and a land endowment for public education; and providing for an effective date." MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 25 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to education. MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 162 "An Act relating to absences from the state under the longevity bonus program." SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION SB 178 - No previous Senate committee action. SB 11 - See HESS minutes dated 2/5/01. SB 41 - No previous Senate committee action. HB 99 - No previous Senate committee action. HB 203 - No previous Senate committee action. SB 149 - See HESS minutes dated 4/2/01. SB 188 - See HESS minutes dated 4/18/01. SJR 25 - See HESS minutes dated 4/18/01. HB 162 - No previous Senate committee action. WITNESS REGISTER Paul Roetman Aide to Senator Leman Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of the sponsor of SB 149 Guy Bell Director, Division of Retirement and Benefits Department of Administration PO Box 110200 Juneau, AK 99811-0200 POSITION STATEMENT: Stated that SB 149 would have a miniscule impact on the Teachers Retirement System. Melissa Hill Alaska Teacher Placement Department of Education & Early Development th 801 W 10 St. Juneau, AK 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 149 Holly Morris Aide to Senator Therriault Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of the sponsor of SB 178 Robert Buttcane Division of Juvenile Justice Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110601 Juneau, AK 99801-0601 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 178 Richard Benavides Aide to Senator Davis Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of the sponsor of SB 41 Eddy Jeans School Finance and Facilities Section Department of Education & Early Development th 801 W 10 St. Juneau, AK 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about SB 41 and HB 203 Dee Hubbard No address provided Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Supports mandatory kindergarten Vernon Marshall Executive Director, NEA-Alaska 114 2nd Street Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 41 and HB 99 Mr. Darroll Hargraves Executive Director Alaska Council of School Administrators 326 4th, Suite 404 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 41 and CSHB 203(FIN) Rita Davis Swanson Elementary School Palmer, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Supports mandatory kindergarten Carl Rose Association of Alaska School Boards 316 W 11th St. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports CSHB 203(FIN) Rod McCoy No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Supports early intervention in education Representative Lesil McGuire Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 99 Representative Peggy Wilson Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 203 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 01-35, SIDE A Number 001 VICE-CHAIR LOREN LEMAN called the Senate Health, Education & Social Services Committee meeting to order at 2:05 p.m. Present were Senators Wilken, Davis and Leman. Senator Ward arrived at 2:10 p.m. Vice-Chair Leman announced the committee would take up SB 149, SB 188, SJR 25, SB 178, SB 11, SB 41, HB 99 and HB 203. He asked those who wish to testify via teleconference to keep their comments brief so that the committee can get through its calendar. SENATOR DAVIS noted the order of bills announced by Vice-Chair Leman is different from the original calendar. She expressed concern that several people were waiting to testify on a bill that was originally scheduled at the top of the list. Those people have time constraints. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN asked Senator Davis to let him know when they arrive and he will try to accommodate them. He then asked Paul Roetman to testify. SB 149-TEACHER RETIREMENT,REEMPLOYMENT,CERTIFIC'T SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt Version R of SB 149 as the working document of the committee. There being no objection, the motion carried. MR. PAUL ROETMAN, staff to Senator Leman, sponsor of SB 149, explained that the committee substitute (CS) outlines specific incentives to promote recruitment and retention of teachers. Alaska has a growing teacher shortage. In the beginning of 2001, almost 90 teaching vacancies existed across the state. Many schools had to rely on emergency certificates and waivers to fill those positions. Alaska is attracting fewer teachers to the state and, in addition, the University of Alaska simply cannot meet the demand for graduates. SB 149 takes a pro-active approach to help reduce the staffing shortage. MR. ROETMAN described the changes made in the CS. The original bill included some financial incentives to attract teachers. The partial loan assumption (50 percent loan forgiveness) and merit awards for selected teachers provisions were removed from the CS. What remains is recognition of out-of-state teacher credentials, an incentive for employment of retired teachers, and improved medical coverage for current teachers. Sections 1 and 2 deal with a preliminary teacher certificate to recognize out-of-state teacher credentials to facilitate the process for out-of-state teachers who want to relocate to Alaska to teach. The bill allows those teachers with a valid teaching certificate to take the practice exam within the first year of their employment instead of prior to it. A preliminary Alaska teaching certificate will be issued for a three-year term. Sections 3, 4 and 5 allow school districts to employ retired teachers if they anticipate or formally record a shortage. The CS contains a five percent limitation but, according to Guy Bell, director of the Division of Retirement and Benefits, retired teachers are not likely to flood the vacant positions. Section 6 increases medical benefits to 100 percent coverage if a teacher, who normally can retire after 20 years, postpones retirement for another five years. MR. ROETMAN proposed two amendments for the committee's consideration. The first, Amendment 1, reads as follows: A M E N D M E N T 1 OFFERED IN THE SENATE BY SENATOR LEMAN TO: CSSSSB 149( ), Draft Version "R" Page 3, lines 14 - 17: Delete all material. Reletter the following subsections accordingly. Page 3, following line 31: Insert a new bill section to read: "* Sec. 5. AS 14.25.040(a) is amended to read: (a) Unless a teacher or member has elected to participate in the optional university retirement program under AS 14.40.661 - 14.40.799 [OR HAS FILED AN ELECTION UNDER AS 14.25.043(b)], a teacher or member contracting for service with a participating employer is subject to this chapter." Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 5, following line 7: Insert new bill sections to read: "* Sec. 7. AS 14.25.043(a) is amended to read: (a) If a retired member again becomes an active member, benefit payments may not be made during the period of reemployment [UNLESS THE TEACHER MAKES AN ELECTION UNDER (b) OF THIS SECTION]. The retirement benefit must be suspended for the entire school year if the teacher is reemployed as an active teacher for a period equivalent to a year of service. During the period of reemployment, [THE MEMBER IS SUBJECT TO AS 14.25.050 AND] deductions from the member's salary will be made in accordance with AS 14.25.050." Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 5, following line 20: Insert a new bill section to read: "* Sec. 9. AS 14.20.135 and AS 14.25.043(b) are repealed July 1, 2004." Page 5, line 28: Delete "sec. 10" Insert "sec. 14" Page 5, line 30: Delete "secs. 4 - 6" Insert "secs. 4, 6, and 8" Page 6, line 1: Delete "Section 8" Insert "Section 11" Page 6, following line 1: Insert a new bill section to read: "* Sec. 13. Sections 5, 7, and 9 of this Act take effect July 1, 2004." Renumber the following bill section accordingly. Page 6, line 2: Delete "sec. 9" Insert "secs. 12 and 13" SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt Amendment 1. There being no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt Amendment 2. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN objected for the purpose of an explanation. MR. ROETMAN said Amendment 2 does two things: it removes the five percent limitation of Section (3)(b); and it provides a sunset provision after three years for all three of the retirement provisions. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN asked Mr. Bell to explain the effect of Amendment 2 on the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). MR. GUY BELL, Director of the Division of Retirement and Benefits, Department of Administration, told the committee that Amendment 2 will have no impact, from an actuarial perspective, on the retiree-return provision and there will be an almost immaterial impact on the medical benefit enhancement. The amount will be .17 percent of payroll equaling, for example, $85 on a $50,000 salary. He believes it is a good idea to include a sunset provision so that the legislature can re-evaluate this program in the future. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN asked if three years will provide adequate time. MR. BELL said it should. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN said his intention was to get something into effect that will work this year and next year and then take another look at it. He announced with no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted. MR. ROETMAN noted that Melissa Hill was available to testify via teleconference. Number 674 MELISSA HILL, Alaska Teacher Placement, said she cannot stress the need to find qualified teachers for students in Alaska. It is becoming harder and harder to find teachers willing to relocate to rural Alaska. The state needs to seek ways to accommodate and entice teachers. She supports recognition of certified out-of- state teachers. She also supports employment of retired teachers because aside from enlarging the applicant pool, it will provide mentoring opportunities. Mentor teachers are a major factor in teacher retention. MS. HILL informed committee members of the following facts: · Alaska still has 300 teaching vacancies after the previous job fair; · Only 375 applicants have registered for the April job fair; · At least four of Alaska's rural school districts can expect to hire 30 to 60 new teachers each year. There was no further public testimony. SENATOR WARD moved CSSB 149(HES) from committee with individual recommendations and its accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, the motion carried. SB 188-EDUCATION FUND/ LAND ENDOWMENT VICE-CHAIR LEMAN announced that the committee would next take up SB 188. The committee held a hearing on this bill but it was held over to give members time to contemplate amendments. He asked for committee discussion or proposed amendments to SB 188. There being no discussion or amendments, SENATOR WARD moved SB 188 from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. The committee took up SJR 25. SJR 25-CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUND VICE-CHAIR LEMAN stated that the committee held a public hearing on SJR 25 but it was held over for further discussion and potential amendments. There being no discussion or amendments, SENATOR WARD moved SJR 25 from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, the motion carried. The committee took up SB 178. SB 178-DETENTION OF DELINQUENT MINORS HOLLY MORRIS, staff to Senator Therriault, sponsor of SB 178, explained that SB 178 incorporates language from a federal regulation into Alaska statute to optimize funding opportunities. The new statutory language will allow a juvenile to be held in an adult facility for 24 hours if a court hearing takes place within that time. There are two exceptions to the 24 hour limit: in the case of adverse weather and if moving the juvenile to a juvenile facility would endanger the juvenile. The 48-hour limit currently in statute is still an option with the exceptions in the regulation. SENATOR WARD asked why the change is needed. MS. MORRIS explained the change will bring Alaska's statutory language into compliance with federal regulations. Compliance will enhance the state's ability to maintain and gain federal funding. However, state officials will be able to continue to hold juveniles in an adult facility for 48 hours if that is the safest option. The change appears to reduce the hours of detention in an adult facility, but with the exceptions listed, juveniles can be held for 48 hours. SENATOR WARD asked which programs will now qualify with the statutory change. MR. ROBERT BUTTCANE, Division of Juvenile Justice, Department of Health and Social Services, informed committee members that federal formula funds currently fund programs such as attendant care shelters, electronic monitoring, mentoring programs, youth courts, and elders courts. Those programs are alternative detention programs for juveniles who do not need secure confinement after they have been arrested. By enacting a 24-hour arraignment provision in Alaska statute for juveniles held in adult jails, the state will preserve an opportunity to claim exceptions to certain time thresholds that Alaska does not now because state law contains a 48-hour limit. He pointed out there are six youth facilities around the state, but there are more than 250 communities that occasionally arrest a juvenile offender and need to hold that offender. MR. BUTTCANE said under federal law, a juvenile offender can be held in an adult jail for up to six hours without incurring any kind of federal violation. After six hours, federal funding can be jeopardized. Because of Alaska's expansive geography and limited transportation infrastructure, it is impossible at times to move a juvenile who has been arrested from a village jail to a juvenile facility within the six hour time frame. Enacting a 24-hour arraignment will allow state officials to do a couple of things. The juvenile will be brought before the court within 24 hours so that judicial review will take place to make sure the juvenile is being treated properly. Second, it will give state officials access to the exceptions that allow the juvenile to be held in an adult jail until it is safe to transport that individual. It is a practice that now takes place: juveniles are not held in adult jails any longer than absolutely necessary. SB 178 will provide a mechanism to continue current practices and preserve Alaska's entitlement to federal funds. SENATOR WARD asked how many juveniles were held in adult facilities last year. MR. BUTTCANE informed committee members that a chart of statistics was placed in members' packets. According to that chart, 223 juveniles were held in adult facilities for anywhere from 1 to 28 hours. SENATOR WARD asked for elaboration on electronic monitoring. MR. BUTTCANE said the threshold is six hours but with the exceptions the time period can be extended for periods necessary to ensure safe transportation. For example, a juvenile could be held for six hours or until the storm passes. A penalty is assessed for any violations and funds are withdrawn from the federal grant program. Withdrawal of funds impacts the state's ability to designate use of those funds like electronic monitoring, alternative care shelters or youth corps. SENATOR WARD asked if it is a bigger pot. MR. BUTTCANE said it is a much bigger pot and it has a domino effect. SENATOR WARD asked how much money was lost last year because of violations. MR. BUTTCANE said the state has not lost any money yet. Last year, Senator Stevens was able to enact exemption for Alaska that will expire in 2002. Number 1417 SENATOR WARD asked how much the state would have lost without that exemption. MR. BUTTCANE said last year the state would have lost $168,000 out of about $672,000. He added that not only would the state lose $168,000, it would have to dedicate all of the remaining $500,000 to correct the problem of holding juveniles in adult jails longer than six hours. He surmised that would be a problem because of the high costs associated with a transportation infrastructure or establishing juvenile facilities in each community. He pointed out the violations are associated with a very small number of juveniles. With no further questions or discussion, SENATOR DAVIS moved SB 178 from committee with individual recommendations and its zero fiscal note. There being no objection, the motion carried. The committee then took up SB 11. SB 11-COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE SENATOR THERRIAULT, sponsor of SB 11, provided the committee with a list of the 12 exemptions from the public education requirement provided in statute. He pointed out that he tried to figure out whether there is a different way to get at the problem, which occurs when parents enroll their children in public education at the age of 5 or 6, but send their children to school sporadically Until the child is of mandatory school age at age 7. Both teachers and students are challenged in such situations, and often school becomes a negative experience at an early stage for those students. SENATOR THERRIAULT pointed out the list of 12 exemptions is not impacted by SB 11. The exemptions allow a child to be withheld from public school if the child is being educated by a parent or legal guardian. Therefore, any parent who wants to keep his or her child out of the public school system can legally do so, but once a child is enrolled, SB 11 will require that child to attend on a regular basis. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN announced that he would hold SB 11 until Monday, when Chairwoman Green is in attendance. SENATOR THERRIAULT said he is willing to discuss any ideas committee members may have as to how to approach this problem. He stated this problem pertains to 1 percent of students. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN noted SB 11 would be held until Monday and the committee would take up SB 41. SB 41-KINDERGARTEN & DEFINITION OF "SCHOOL AGE" RICHARD BENAVIDES, staff to Senator Davis, sponsor of SB 41, explained that SB 41 would make kindergarten mandatory in Alaska and it would lower the compulsory school age from 7 to 5 years of age. Alaska has performance standards for students aged 5 to 7, yet school attendance is not mandatory. According to statistics provided by the state in October of 2000, all school districts except Galena had children enrolled in some type of kindergarten program. The movement in education at this point in time is to have children start learning as quickly as possible in order to meet the mandated performance standards and pass mandatory tests at the high school level. Fifteen states have mandated kindergarten, 42 states must offer kindergarten although it is not mandatory, and all 50 states have financial aid for schools with kindergarten programs. SENATOR WARD asked if SB 41 will require all children to attend kindergarten. MR. BENAVIDES said that is correct. SENATOR WARD asked if school districts could continue to offer full, half or quarter-day kindergarten. MR. BENAVIDES said the bill would only mandate schools to offer a kindergarten program. SENATOR WARD asked if districts could offer a kindergarten program that was less than half-day. SENATOR DAVIS stated that no kindergarten programs in Alaska are less than half-day but the local option would allow less than half-day. She felt there would be disadvantages to a kindergarten program that was less than half-day. SENATOR WARD commented that some schools provide half-day kindergarten programs right now for financial reasons. He questioned whether a district could have a program three days per week. SENATOR DAVIS said she didn't think anything would prevent a district from doing that. She pointed out whether a district provides a full or half-day kindergarten program depends on each school board's philosophy and a variety of other reasons. SENATOR WILKEN expressed surprise that the Department of Education and Early Development (DOEED) submitted an indeterminate fiscal note because he believes it should be able to provide a close estimate of the number of kindergartners who may enroll every year. He also noted that kindergarten programs are not funded through the foundation formula. SENATOR DAVIS asked Mr. Eddy Jeans to speak to whether kindergarten programs are funded through the foundation formula. MR. EDDY JEANS, School Finance Manager, DOEED, informed the committee that DOEED does fund kindergarten programs through the foundation formula and that both full and half time programs exist. A half time program is currently defined in regulation as one that lasts less than four hours per day. He pointed out the fiscal note is indeterminate because SB 41 changes the compulsory school age from 7 to 5. DOEED does not know how many 5 or 6 year olds do not currently attend school. In addition, parents would have the option of keeping their 5 and 6 year olds out of public school by way of 12 exemptions. SENATOR WILKEN asked if kindergartners are included in the October count. MR. JEANS said they are. SENATOR WARD asked how many kindergartners were in last year's count. MR. JEANS said, based on the enrollment report, Alaska had 9,275 students statewide but he did not know if that number includes both full and half time students. SENATOR WARD asked if half time students receive half allotment and whether districts have the option of applying for a full or half time allotment. MR. JEANS stated half time students receive half allotment and repeated that districts have the option of offering half or full time programs. Programs that are more than four hours per day, exclusive of intermissions, are considered to be full time. SENATOR WARD asked if a school district could apply for funds for either half or full day kindergarten programs or could offer no program. MR. JEANS said that is correct. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN took public testimony. [NO RECORDING IS AVAILABLE FOR THE FOLLOWING PORTION OF THE MEETING DUE TO TAPE DAMAGE.] MS. DEE HUBBARD, an Anchorage resident, informed the committee that she has been working on this issue since 1993. In 1993, the Anchorage and Alaska PTAs passed resolutions mandating kindergarten. Since that time, four more states have mandated kindergarten for children. She believes the state should mandate that every school district offer kindergarten programs. MR. VERN MARSHALL, Executive Director of NEA-Alaska, stated support for mandatory kindergarten. He believes the time is right to establish such a mandate because Alaska is aggressively pursuing standards. He feels it is wise to start children in kindergarten because it orients children to school procedures and helps them to start acquiring knowledge. MR. DARROLL HARGRAVES, Council of School Administrators, commented on both SB 41 and SB 11. He stated that research results show that a big learning curve occurs from birth through age 5. If children miss the opportunity to learn during that period, they will suffer through 12th grade. In addition, young students are more mature. He pointed out that regarding the list of exemptions included in Senator Therriault's bill, exemption 8 is the only one that allows flexibility for students who are not kindergarten ready at age 5. That exemption requires school board approval to keep a child out of kindergarten at age 5. He asked the committee to add a simpler exemption to apply to those students who are not ready. [SIDE B RECORDING BEGINS] Number 2150 MS. RITA DAVIS, a teacher at Swanson Elementary School in Palmer, emphasized the need for early intervention for school success. Although children learn with different styles and at different rates, educational and brain research consistently shows that five-year old children are not only ready and eager to learn, but have a tremendous capacity to learn. For students who come from environments that may not be rich in literature or life experiences, early kindergarten would offer them developmentally appropriate activities and prepare them to learn and make choices. For students ready to learn, it would offer an early opportunity. Reading research concludes that early reading success in the primary grades is the single biggest indicator of future school success. If Alaska is focusing on meeting standards at the end of a student's education, it is only logical to look at the beginning. It is time our state policy reflects our beliefs about this critical learning period. MR. CARL ROSE, Executive Director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, stated support for SB 41 for many of the reasons already stated. He recently returned from the education commission of the states. That commission produced an initiative to change the foundation system for funding education. The commission wants funding to cover preschool through postsecondary education. He stated the first benchmark exam given in Alaska is at the third grade level and districts will have to pay close attention to that benchmark because at that point, the curriculum "steepens out" and the gap widens. Mandating kindergarten will help students to get up on step together. He believes the best place to put the state's effort regarding the high school qualifying exam is into looking at learning-appropriate methods of teaching children at the kindergarten level and to mandate kindergarten attendance. MR. ROD MCCOY, special education teacher and NEA-Ak member, thanked and complemented the committee for the great efforts members have made for education. He made the following points: · Research clearly says that the sooner students are involved in the learning process, the better off they are; · Our legal system provides clear options to request compulsory education because parents can easily determine to provide instruction at home - the state is not being invasive in that process; · Allow parents to determine whether their children are school-ready at age 5 because attendance is important; and · Districts need support for the benchmark tests - the state must require schooling to start early in a child's life. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN announced that SB 41 would be held in committee until Chairwoman Green returns. CSHB 99(HES)-SCHOOL DISCIPLINE AND SAFETY PROGRAMS REPRESENTATIVE LESIL MCGUIRE, sponsor of HB 99, informed the committee that CSHB 99(HES) was unanimously supported by the House. She explained that CSHB 99(HES) is simple: it asks school districts to put policies in place to address non-violent means of resolving conflicts. The problem of school violence is nationwide. Alaska schools have experienced a shooting, stabbings, baseball bat fights and other violent acts. These acts are not only occurring in urban areas. She has done extensive research on non-violent resolution policies in schools and there is no question that they make a difference. HB 99 has the support of school districts, NEA-Ak, and the Division of Juvenile Justice. She noted that Debbie Ossiander, a member of the Anchorage school board, has testified in the past in support of CSHB 99(HES). An incidental benefit of CSHB 99(HES) will be to help districts that want to develop full-fledge conflict resolution programs to receive grant funding. She believes the state should be one of many partners needed to help eradicate school violence. MR. BUTTCANE, Division of Juvenile Justice, DHSS, stated support for CSHB 99(HES). He pointed out that in the course of an ordinary year, the division receives between 800 and 1,000 misdemeanor assault referrals statewide. Most of those referrals are related to interpersonal conflicts between students at our schools. The division believes that conflict resolution is a preventative option that can be implemented to reduce the number of assaults and conflicts between students. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has developed such a program and in its guide states that the tenets of conflict resolution present a new model of interacting with and thinking about other people, one that challenges us to go beyond stereotypes, to consider the other's point of view, and to reach mutually satisfactory agreements in which all parties win. The results of this approach for society could be profound. The division supports the sponsor's effort to implement this as a next step in a direction that will create a better society. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN asked if any of the five large high schools in Anchorage have a greater amount of conflict than the others. MR. BUTTCANE said in his experience, cycles occur in high schools in which one school may have high levels of conflict one year, which subsides after staff implement various programs. Some schools do not seem to have those problems. He pointed out the Chugiak High School has implemented a conflict resolution program that is showing tremendous success. East High School had a number of conflicts a few years ago but staff found new ways to teach students to resolve conflicts without using physical violence. The Division of Juvenile Justice is working with both middle and high schools around the state but not every school has the interest or resources to participate. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN said he asked because the legislature is looking at putting some resources into pilot programs. SENATOR DAVIS said most high schools in Anchorage have some form of conflict resolution program in place and those programs are now being established in middle schools. Wendler Middle School is taking the lead. MR. VERN MARSHALL, NEA-Ak, expressed appreciation to the sponsor for introducing HB 99. He noted that prior to 1996, NEA-Ak was primarily concerned about classroom discipline. It has now absorbed a new program and budget concept to deal with the issue of making schools safer. NEA-Ak has trained staff and developed programs designed to work with teachers and support staff to address the issue of making the school environment safe and functional. NEA-Ak realized that the incident in Bethel was a critical issue and it was the first entity to provide crisis counseling. TAPE 01-36, SIDE A MR. MARSHALL pointed out that it is costly to shut schools down because of bomb threats that must be taken seriously. We can either pay later or incorporate programs to deal with non-violent resolution of problems. NEA-Ak supports CSHB 99(HES) and urges its passage. With no further discussion or questions, SENATOR DAVIS moved CSHB 99(HES) from committee with individual recommendations and its accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, the motion carried. CSHB 203(FIN)-SPECIAL APPROP: SCHOOL DIST. COST FACTORS REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY WILSON, sponsor, explained that CSHB 203(FIN) appropriates money to Legislative Council for a study of school district cost factors. The current formula has a design error. It tracks expenses as opposed to the actual costs of providing an education in each school district, which has resulted in flawed district cost factors. Failure to precisely measure differential costs across the state has resulted in inequitable funding. Alaska has a constitutional obligation to provide a full education to all students. The challenge inherent in this mission is to account for Alaska's diverse geography and cultural and economic conditions. CSHB 203(FIN) proposes that an independent study be done at a cost of $350,000. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN said he agrees with the need for good information and he does not believe the current geographic differentials are accurate, but he believes the information should be based on the cost of operating schools and not on incidental costs. Any study should be designed so that the data can be updated every two years, as mandated by SB 36. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON agreed it is important to design the study so that DOEED can update the information every two years. Number 447 MR. CARL ROSE, Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), stated support for CSHB 203(FIN). He noted that many people have lingering concerns about SB 36, one being the information used to develop the foundation formula. The McDowell study of 1996 was expenditure based and many believe schools were inadequately funded at that time. The funding task force recommended no change to the foundation formula until the state could come up with empirical data on which to underwrite the change. The task force felt to change the foundation formula without a good set of indices would further exacerbate the problem. The AASB identified the need for such a study in its A+ document. He pointed out the AASB has a dues formula that contains factors so that during times of financial prosperity, dues can be reduced and vice versa. He suggested that using 2002 as the timeframe to complete the product is too short and will produce a poor product. He would like to see the study in place very soon and if the study lasted until 2003, the legislature would have another year's data to consider. He stated the need for this bill is more important since SB 36 is in place. The district cost factors used now are very questionable MR. DARROLL HARGRAVES, Council of School Administrators, stated support for CSHB 203(FIN) because of the low confidence level in the current chart of accounts set in statute, which he believes is inadequate. MR. EDDY JEANS, School Finance Manager, DOEED, stated support for CSHB 203(HES). DOEED believes a study needs to be done and completed by January 15, 2003 instead of 2002. Requiring the study to be done in a very compressed time frame will produce a product that does not serve the state's needs. He requested that CSHB 203(FIN) be amended to change the date from 2002 to 2003. He stated he spoke with Representative Wilson about that amendment. She would like to do a little bit of research before supporting it. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN suggested requiring a draft study to be completed by January 1, 2002 and to then have a comment period. MR. JEANS said DOEED requested amended language on the House side that would have required Legislative Council to work in consultation with DOEED to develop the contract for the study. DOEED intends to work with the school districts to make sure they buy into the product before it goes out for bid. That way, DOEED will be asking the contractor to measure the items that the school districts feel are truly driving the difference in costs between districts. He said he doesn't believe a good request for proposals (RFP) could be crafted in less than two months and that development needs to be done on the front end. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN agreed. He asked Mr. Jeans if he is satisfied with the information the state is collecting on the costs of running school districts and whether DOEED has the ability to compare districts from that information. MR. JEANS stated that two additional positions were approved under SB 36. He now has two internal auditors working for DOEED that review school district audited financial statements on an annual basis. DOEED has also done an extensive review and revision of the uniform chart of accounts adopted by the state board of education in December. That chart of accounts will take effect in July so it will be at least one year before the results are in. He believes the new chart of accounts will get the expenditure data in line. DOEED is not suggesting that this cost model be developed based on audited financial statements for expenditures because districts spend what they get. If they are not getting sufficient funds, they must cut in certain areas. DOEED wants to look at the actual costs of providing an education in the various communities. Fuel costs and consumption varies greatly among districts. The contractor needs to identify those indices that DOEED can update regularly. VICE-CHAIR LEMAN said he agrees but would be careful about interpreting too much from the costs unless a common base can be found to determine comparable deliveries in communities. He announced he would hold CSHB 203(FIN) and adjourned the meeting at 3:32 p.m.