Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

03/26/2021 08:15 AM House EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:15:42 AM Start
08:16:28 AM HB43
08:45:34 AM Presentation(s): Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development Report
09:36:02 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Moved HB 43 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Presentation: Alaska State Board of Education & TELECONFERENCED
Early Development Report by
- James Fields, State Board Chair
- Commissioner Michael Johnson
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
         HB  43-EXTEND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY                                                                     
8:16:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  that  the first  order of  business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 43, "An  Act extending  the termination                                                               
date of the  special education service agency;  and providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
8:17:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY,  prime sponsor,  stated that  HB 43  would extend                                                               
the  termination date  of the  Special  Education Service  Agency                                                               
(SESA),  which  provides  high-quality,  efficient  services  for                                                               
students with severe disabilities in  Alaska.  She explained that                                                               
legislative  auditor  Kris  Curtis recommended  an  extension  of                                                               
eight years, to June 30, 2029,  as the agency has met the mission                                                               
set out  in statute.   She reviewed  the March 17,  2021, hearing                                                               
where the  bill was  considered for  the first  time, emphasizing                                                               
that  the  testimony of  SESA  director  Patrick Pillai  and  the                                                               
findings of  legislative auditor Kris Curtis  supported the bill.                                                               
She recommended that the bill move out of committee.                                                                            
8:19:44 AM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI   TESHNER,   Director,   Finance  and   Support   Services,                                                               
Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development,  presented  a                                                               
legislative fiscal note for HB 43, Office of Management & Budget                                                                
(OMB) component  number 2735, which included  a governor's fiscal                                                               
year 2022  (FY 22) projected grant  of $2,404,400 for SESA.   The                                                               
grant  was  calculated in  accordance  with  Alaska Statute  (AS)                                                               
14.30.650.   The fiscal note  estimated a cost of  $2,368,900 for                                                               
FY  23, based  on the  FY 21  final average  daily membership  of                                                               
127,016.30  multiplied by  $18.65 as  specified in  AS 14.30.650.                                                               
The estimated amount  for FY 23 was carried  forward through June                                                               
30,  2029, with  the department  planning to  adjust it  annually                                                               
based on the prior year's average daily membership.                                                                             
8:22:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony on HB 43.                                                                             
8:22:38 AM                                                                                                                    
JESSIE  TOWARAK,  Director,   Special  Education,  Bering  Strait                                                               
School District,  stated that  students, teachers,  families, and                                                               
districts have been  positively impacted by SESA.   She said SESA                                                               
staff have provided  expertise, training, teleconference support,                                                               
librarian services,  site visits,  and assistance  in programming                                                               
for  students with  disabilities.   She  stated  that as  Special                                                               
Education  Director,  she  is   responsible  for  recruiting  and                                                               
training special education teachers for  15 villages in her area.                                                               
Teachers often  arrive with little  or no training  or experience                                                               
in   programming  education   for  students   with  low-incidence                                                               
disabilities  using  resources  available  in  rural  areas,  she                                                               
explained.   She continued, stating  that SESA has been  a bridge                                                               
for  students,  their teachers,  and  their  programs while  also                                                               
assisting in retaining special education  teachers.  She recalled                                                               
the experience of  one of her teachers, who would  not have known                                                               
what to  do without  the aid  of SESA.   She emphasized  that the                                                               
services are a vital, necessary  resource for students, teachers,                                                               
and  families.   She recalled  her experience  as a  teacher when                                                               
SESA provided programming, support, and  training for her and her                                                               
colleagues.  In  order to meet the unique needs  of her students,                                                               
she stated that she fully supports the reauthorization of SESA.                                                                 
8:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND closed public testimony on HB 43.                                                                             
8:24:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY added  that she  has  been impressed  by, and  is                                                               
grateful  for, the  support the  program brings  to students  and                                                               
staff in  special education across  Alaska.  She  thanked Patrick                                                               
Pillai  for  his  work  in guiding  the  agency  through  several                                                               
decades, and  expressed her gratitude  for the  special education                                                               
community, the support of students, and the SESA program.                                                                       
8:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked for clarification  on if  the programs                                                               
are driven by federal regulations.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND stated  that the  programs are  driven by  the                                                               
Americans  With  Disabilities  Act,   and  school  districts  are                                                               
required to provide services for students with special needs.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked for verification  that the top priority                                                               
in AIDA is providing those services.                                                                                            
8:26:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  stated  that  her  understanding  is  that  SESA                                                               
provides  one  way to  meet  the  federal requirements  to  serve                                                               
students with  low-incidence disabilities.   The  program ensures                                                               
efficient delivery  of services and that  teachers understand the                                                               
unique  needs of  the 1  percent  of students  affected by  these                                                               
disabilities nationwide.                                                                                                        
8:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  PILLAI, Executive  Director,  Special Education  Service                                                               
Agency, responded  that Representative Prax was  correct, and the                                                               
federal  mandate to  provide special  education services  extends                                                               
through 21 years  of age.  This responsibility  was entrenched by                                                               
AS 14.30.630,  which required SESA  to provide  special education                                                               
services  and   outreach  services  for  individuals   with  low-                                                               
incidence  disabilities,  as well  as  support  and training  for                                                               
local school districts, he explained.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked,  since   the  services  are  available                                                               
through the age of 21, when they begin to be available.                                                                         
8:28:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI  replied that  services are available  from ages  3 to                                                               
8:29:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked to clarify  that the funding  for SESA                                                               
is  for  staff  travelling  throughout the  state  and  providing                                                               
support to districts, rather than district hires.                                                                               
8:29:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI  confirmed that the  funding to the agency  allows for                                                               
11-15  specialists  to  travel  to  rural  school  districts  and                                                               
provide  training,  programming,  and support  for  educators  of                                                               
children  with  specific disabilities.    In  districts with  few                                                               
staff,  the needs  of children  with these  specific disabilities                                                               
would go unmet without this specialized support, he explained.                                                                  
8:31:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  asked if  the funding  for the  program has                                                               
stayed at a flat rate for, for example, the last three years.                                                                   
MR. PILLAI  said funding was  established eight years  ago during                                                               
the  last reauthorization  period.   He referenced  SB 19,  which                                                               
proposes a 24 percent increase in funding.                                                                                      
8:31:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK expressed  doubt in the numbers for  FY 23 -                                                               
FY 26 and asked if those  numbers will continue to provide enough                                                               
for the necessary services of the program.                                                                                      
8:32:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI stated  that the program's projection for  FY 22 shows                                                               
a  $578,000  deficit, and  the  24  percent increase  in  funding                                                               
proposed by SB 19 will adjust for that deficit through FY 29.                                                                   
8:33:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  verified  that  the  Senate  Education  Standing                                                               
Committee recommended  the increase  in funding  found in  SB 19,                                                               
and that  HB 43 will be  referred to the House  Finance Committee                                                               
for recommendation.                                                                                                             
8:33:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY moved  to  report  HB 43  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HB  43 was  reported out of  the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 43 SESA Sectional Analysis Version A.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
HB0043-EED-SS-3-11-21 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
HB 43 Letters of Support Received 3.15.21.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
20120-SESA-FINAL-AUDIT LB&A.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43 Letter of Support 3.17.21.msg HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
2020 SBOE Annual Report to the Legislature.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
SBOE Annual Rpt
3.26.21 Presentation SBOE Report to the Legislature.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43 SESA Sponsor Statement Ver. A 3.24.21.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43