Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/17/1994 01:30 PM House FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 106 "An Act establishing the Alaska education technology program; and providing for an effective date." Representative Brown noted that CSHB 106 (JUD) would create the Alaska Education Technology Program. She observe that similar legislation was passed by the House during the previous legislature. She stressed the need of education technology. KAREN CRANE, DIRECTOR, LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES AND MUSEUMS, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION spoke in support of CSHB 106 (JUD). She noted that most Alaskans cannot access information that is currently available. She asserted that the telecommunications network must be available to all Alaskans, the hardware must be available to access the network and that training be available. She maintained that schools and libraries will be able to open up the "information highway" to students and citizens, and provide training. Co-Chair Larson questioned if training for education technology could be provided as part of a teacher's recertification. Ms. Crane could not answer. Ms. Crane anticipated that the legislation would help to bridge discrepancies which exist between the resources available in urban and rural areas. She described the SLED program being offered through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In response to a question by Representative Parnell, Ms. 7 Crane discussed the Department's fiscal note. She observed that the greatest cost to the Department will be for training. She explained that the Department will add a position to an existing position to provide training. The two training positions will receive clerical support by the requested clerical position. Contractual money will be spent on a statewide plan for automation. Contractual money in subsequent years would be spent on training in rural areas. She explained that training may be done by video or on-line. Ms. Crane explained that only 13 or 14 of the 100 library positions are professional librarians. She noted that the Department would attempt to absorb administration costs with current staff. Representative Brown expounded that CSHB 106 (JUD) envisions the creation of the Education Technology Fund that would provide matching money for school districts and libraries to implement locally prepared plans. She observed that HB 107 would propose a general obligation bond issue. She observed that the fiscal note from the Department of Revenue would not be applicable if the fund is not created. She maintained that CSHB 106 (JUD) would allow the coordination of resources and a planned approach for sharing information that exists. She stressed the advantages of passing CSHB 106 (JUD) separate from HB 107. JIM SCHAEFFER, COORDINATOR, DISTANCE DELIVER CONSORTIUM testified via the teleconference network from Bethel. He noted that the Consortium is composed of four school districts, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, University of Alaska, Kuskokwim and KYUP Public Radio and Television. Mr. Schaeffer stressed that through their cooperative agreement agencies are able to deliver training to rural areas. He noted that teachers can receive in service training without leaving the villages. He stressed the importance of electronic mail. He maintained that planning will allow economies of scale not otherwise possible. DONNA PETERSON, PRINCIPLE, NORTH STAR ELEMENTARY testified via the teleconference network from Nikiski. She noted that a technological focus was implemented when the school opened seven years ago. There is a four to one computer ratio in the school. She asserted that the advantages to the students are "legendary". She maintained that second graders have mastered division through the use of computers. She maintained that two weeks of math classes can be accomplished in a half hour lab. She observed that class size has been reduced by utilizing para-professionals to man 8 labs. She emphasized the improvement of writing skills through the use of education technology. HELEN BARRETT, ALASKA ANCHORAGE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION testified via the teleconference network from Anchorage. She testified in support of CSHB 106 (JUD). She asserted that the changes in applications of technology to education have been dramatic over the past ten years. She noted that the finding of a 1993 Department of Education study stated that, "the greatest need of Alaska schools was for training teachers and administrators to use the existing technology." She discussed the University of Alaska programs. (Ms. Barrett's written comments are on file with the House Finance Committee). SKIP VIA, ELEMENTARY TEACHER, FAIRBANKS testified via the teleconference network from Fairbanks. He expressed the desire to apply for funds for educational technology. He emphasized that schools should reflect the emergence of world communication and education technology. ZACHARY VIA, FOURTH GRADE STUDENT, FAIRBANKS testified via the teleconference network from Fairbanks. He stated that he would "die without technology." He asserted that he survives on technology. JESSIE NOAH, FOURTH GRADE STUDENT, FAIRBANKS testified via the teleconference network from Fairbanks in support of CSHB 106 (JUD). Mr. Skip Via emphasized that computers allow students to progress at their own rate and to learn independently. SALLY RUE, JUNEAU testified in support of CSHB 106 (JUD). She noted that Juneau passed a $1.9 million dollar bond proposition by 66 percent of the vote in 1993. She asserted that education technology helps children learn and gives teachers an effective tool to help meet the diverse needs of children within the classroom. She added that children have different learning styles. She maintained that computers can provide motivation, challenges at different learning levels, meet the needs of at risk students, integrate students with disabilities into the classrooms, and increase reading and writing skills in a non-judgmental way. Ms. Rue noted that at the middle school level, technology provides access to resources and communications that bring real world issues into the classroom. She observed that at all levels technology can bring a vast array of resource materials. Ms. Rue stressed that CSHB 106 (JUD) takes into account that 9 school districts have differing capacity for local bonding and requires local participation. Ms. Rue added that the legislation is tied to educational goals. (Tape Change, HFC 94-37, Side 1) Ms. Rue added that CSHB 106 (JUD) provides comprehensive planning of technology and teacher training. Representative Brown reiterated her intent to move CSHB 106 (JUD) in the absence of legislation to capitalize the fund. Representative Brown noted that the effective date should be 1994. She MOVED to delete "1993" and insert "1994" on page 9, line 15. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. In response to a question by Co-Chair MacLean, Representative Brown referred to the findings of the Alaska Instructional Technology Survey, April 1993 by the Department of Education (copy on file). She noted that 80 percent of the superintendents that responded said that implementation of educational technology is a medium high or high priority. She stressed that the legislation will address the growing disparity between schools. Ms. Crane clarified that the Commissioner of the Department of Education supports CSHB 106 (JUD). Representative Parnell expressed support for the legislation. He observed the disparity between schools in his district. Representative Brown noted that it is difficult to retrofit buildings. She discussed other reasons for the disparities that exist between schools and school districts in regards to educational technology. Representative Brown observed that a matching requirement was included in the legislation to assure local commitment. Representative Navarre noted the lack of a coordinated effort. He observed that some equipment is included with new school construction. He stressed that old schools have difficulty finding room in their budgets for additional items. He noted that class size can be reduced through the use of educational technology. Representative Martin referred to the fiscal note by the Department of Education. Ms. Crane noted that funding for the Education Technology Committee's travel and per diem is included in the Department of Education's fiscal note. Representative Brown reiterated that the Department of 10 Revenue's fiscal note will not be needed unless the appropriation to capitalize the fund is approved. Representative Brown MOVED to report CSHB 106 (FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSHB 106 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with individual recommendations and with three fiscal impact notes, two by the Department of Education, and one by the Department of Revenue.