Legislature(2023 - 2024)

2023-03-08 Senate Journal

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2023-03-08                     Senate Journal                      Page 0434
SB 97                                                                                                                         
SENATE BILL NO. 97 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                                                
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                                                           
              "An Act authorizing lump sum payments for certain                                                                
            teachers as retention and recruitment incentives; and                                                              
          providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
was read the first time and referred to the Education and Finance                                                               

2023-03-08                     Senate Journal                      Page 0435
The following fiscal information was published today:                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Education & Early Development                                                                 
Governor's transmittal letter dated March 7:                                                                                    
Dear President Stevens:                                                                                                         
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill to provide an annual lump sum                                                            
payment for classroom teachers in Alaska for a period of three years.                                                           
This bill authorizes the Department of Education and Early                                                                      
Development (DEED) to make lump sum payments to teachers in the                                                                 
amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000, depending on the school                                                                  
Education in Alaska is a matter of significant government concern.                                                              
Competition for quality teachers is a nationwide issue and multiple                                                             
jurisdictions have adopted legislation to incentivize teacher                                                                   
recruitment. Attracting and retaining top quality educators to the state                                                        
is absolutely vital to fulfilling Alaska’s obligation to provide a useful                                                       
education to our children. However, due to the uniqueness of Alaska’s                                                           
geography and the remoteness of some of our schools, we are                                                                     
experiencing a crisis in recruiting and retaining the best teachers for                                                         
our children. This bill establishes a pilot program designed to improve                                                         
teacher recruitment and retention by incentivizing teachers to accept                                                           
positions in Alaska, including the most remote parts of Alaska, with a                                                          
particular emphasis on rural schools that have struggled to keep pace                                                           
with their peers.                                                                                                               
   Article VII, Section 1, Alaska Constitution                                                                                  
   See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 122A.59 (2021) (An act establishing a program to                                                  
support districts and schools recruiting and offering hiring bonuses for                                                      
licensed teachers who are American Indian or a person of color from another                                                   
state or country in order to meet staffing needs in shortage areas in economic                                                
development regions in Minnesota); WASH. REV. CODE § 28A.405.415(2)                                                           
(2020) (An act providing salary bonuses for teachers in low-income schools);                                                  
MASS. GEN. LAWS ch. 15A, § 19B (1998) (An act authorizing up to a $20,000                                                     
hiring bonus for teachers based on measures such as test scores, grade point                                                  
average, or class rank).                                                                                                        

2023-03-08                     Senate Journal                      Page 0436
Under the terms of the bill, certificated full-time teachers assigned to a                                                      
classroom teaching assignment receive a lump sum payment on, or                                                                 
around, July 1, 2024, July 1, 2025, and July, 1 2026. The bill limits the                                                       
payment to full-time teachers and specifically excludes temporary,                                                              
substitute, or assistant teachers. In order to be eligible for the lump                                                         
sum payment, a teacher must occupy a teaching position for the                                                                  
entirety of the school term for the school year immediately preceding                                                           
the date of payment. The purpose of the bill is to provide a post-school                                                        
year payment to encourage teachers to remain in Alaska for the                                                                  
entirety of the school year, thereby promoting continuity for Alaska’s                                                          
students and maximizing education outcomes. The payment of the                                                                  
lump sum is contingent on appropriation.                                                                                        
The bill identifies pay tiers for each school district individually in the                                                      
amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000. The highest tier payments are                                                            
directed to our remote and rural schools, which have most                                                                       
significantly struggled with producing quality education outcomes.                                                              
This category recognizes the realities faced by remote and rural school                                                         
districts in hiring and keeping educators.                                                                                      
The $10,000 tier is targeted towards our rural schools that, despite                                                            
their remoteness, are sufficiently linked to Alaska’s urban network to                                                          
allow for more regular access to goods and services.                                                                            
The smallest tier is focused on incentivizing teachers in Alaska’s most                                                         
urbanized areas. While no portion of Alaska can be considered                                                                   
“urbanized” in comparison to the mega-cities of the contiguous United                                                           
States, the $5,000 tier recognizes that our urban public school system                                                          
should not cannibalize resources for our rural areas, while still                                                               
providing a significant incentive to teach in Alaska’s cities and major                                                         
population boroughs.                                                                                                            
Under this bill, teachers are required to submit an application to be                                                           
eligible for payment and school districts are responsible for certifying                                                        
the applications. The bill also makes all lump sum payments                                                                     
compensation for the purposes of the Teachers’ Retirement System.                                                               
This bill supports Alaska’s educators who sacrifice so much to provide                                                          
our children with the best possible education.                                                                                  

2023-03-08                     Senate Journal                      Page 0437
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Mike Dunleavy