Legislature(1993 - 1994)

1993-01-22 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1993-01-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0130
SB 61                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 61 by the Senate Rules Committee by request                    
of the Governor, entitled:                                                     
"An Act implementing certain recommendations of                               
Alaska 2000 to improve the state's education                                   
system; and providing for an effective date."                                  
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education and              
Social Services Committee and the Finance Committee.                           
Fiscal note published today from Department of Education.                      
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 22:                                
Dear Mr. President:                                                            
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution,          
I am transmitting a bill that makes significant changes to our public          
education system.  This bill is an outgrowth of the work of many               
Alaskans to improve our public education through Alaska 2000.                  
Through Alaska 2000, a cross section of Alaskans met during 1992               
to examine our school system and  to make recommendations to the               

1993-01-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0131
SB 61                                                                        
state Board of Education and the governor to improve the quality of            
public school education for our children.  The state board has                 
reviewed the  recommendations and  has chosen five as high-priority            
proposals to present for legislative consideration.  This bill, if             
enacted into law, implements those proposals.                                  
The first proposal concerns extending the existing mandatory 180-day           
school year to 200 days by the year 2000.  This would allow our                
children to have 20 additional classroom days of teaching.  The                
imposition of a 200-day school year should help achieve higher                 
educational performance so that our children can have the tools to             
compete in today's complex society.  See secs. 2 and 3 of the bill.            
The second proposal would amend the existing statute that creates              
the fund for the improvement of school performance, to allow the               
commissioner to make grants to any appropriate organization or                 
person to improve our schools.  The existing statute limits the                
commissioner to granting only to school districts.  Additionally, the          
bill would remove the $50,000 restriction on the maximum grant                 
amount and would increase by one the number of years in which the              
same grantee could receive a grant.  These provisions should                   
increase flexibility to award grants to the best qualified organization        
or group in an amount that can get the job done.  The state Board              
of Education would be required to adopt regulations to ensure                  
efficient and effective administration of the program.  See secs. 4,           
5, 6, and 7 of the bill.                                                       
The third proposal would mandate citizen advisory boards in                    
virtually all school districts in the state.  Presently, some school           
districts have opted to do so on a voluntary basis and have found              
the advisory boards extremely helpful in keeping the local school              
boards advised on local community needs and concerns.  With some               
exceptions, the bill would mandate the procedure so that all local             
school districts can have the benefit of an advisory board.  See sec.          
8 of the bill.                                                                 

1993-01-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0132
SB 61                                                                        
The fourth proposal would change the procedure by which new                    
teachers obtain tenure rights to employment after June 30, 1993.               
The bill would add a mechanism for increased public involvement                
in  tenure   decisions and  would  encourage  more  thorough  and              
thoughtful evaluation of teachers by their supervisors.  While I               
recognize that this proposal might be controversial, it serves a               
valuable function in that it ensures that only teachers who have               
shown their ability to teach earn the right to tenure in our public            
schools.  This should play a key role in improving our educational             
system in the future.  See secs. 9, 10, and 11 of the bill.                    
The fifth proposal allows for the establishment of a pilot project for         
the creation of up to 40 charter schools within our public school              
system.  A charter school would be authorized by a contract between            
a local school board and the board of directors of the charter school,         
with the approval of the state Board of Education.  These charter              
schools can focus on a unique educational philosophy or teaching               
curriculum to meet the needs of the students enrolled in the school.           
The provisions of the bill that authorize the program will "sunset"            
July 1, 1996, although a charter school contract could extend to July          
1, 1999.  The legislature will have the opportunity to scrutinize the          
success of the pilot program to determine whether it should be                 
reauthorized through new legislation.  See secs. 12 - 20 and sec. 25           
of the bill.                                                                   
All of the above substantive changes, except for the phased-in                 
changes in school term length in secs. 2 and 3, would take effect              
July 1, 1993.  The phased-in changes in school term length would               
take effect July 1, 1994.  See secs. 23 and 24.                                
Finally, sec. 21 would give transitional authority to allow the state          
Board of Education to begin the process to adopt regulations as soon           
as the bill is signed into law; the new regulations cannot take effect         
before the respective effective dates of the relevant sections of this         
bill.  Section 22 of the bill would give this transition section an            
immediate effective date.                                                      

1993-01-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0133
SB 61                                                                        
Alaska's children are Alaska's future.  Providing them a quality               
education is an investment that we must make, and is an investment             
that will benefit all of us.                                                   
I urge your support of this important legislation.                             
      Walter J. Hickel