Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/02/1993 03:00 PM House HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 210: HIRING OF CHIEF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS Number 432 TOM ANDERSON, LEGISLATIVE AIDE TO REP. TERRY MARTIN, PRIME SPONSOR, presented and distributed to the committee an amendment to HB 210. REP. BRICE, speaking by teleconference, asked the chair to read the amendment or to have a copy of the amendment faxed to him. CHAIR BUNDE said the amendment would amend page 1, line 9, of the bill to delete the numeral "500" and insert the numeral "1,000." REP. BRICE indicated that he was satisfied with that information. CHAIR BUNDE invited Mr. Anderson to speak to the amendment. MR. ANDERSON said that since he and Rep. Martin last presented HB 210, they had tried to find other ways to change the bill, and might not have changed it to the liking of all representatives. He said that Rep. Martin felt there were problems with the way chief school administrators were paid and the way they dealt with their administrative payrolls and retirement benefits. He said Rep. Martin felt it might be better to amend the bill to raise the number of students that would be the minimum needed to require a chief school administrator. He said there were advantages to having smaller school districts share administrators. Number 284 REP. NICHOLIA voiced disagreement with Mr. Anderson's assertions, saying the bill would not save money. She said that rural school districts had large expenses, including the costs for charter flights for administrators and board members. She mentioned the benefits of having administrators on-site. REP. TOOHEY asked whether administrators could still travel among the different schools in a district under HB 210. MR. ANDERSON answered yes. He also acknowledged that superintendents do travel around rural districts and would have to continue to do so under the bill. He pointed out the close proximity of some school districts and said it would not hurt them to have a single superintendent. Number 512 CHAIR BUNDE noted that Rep. Brice had received an illegal (legal) opinion from the legislative Legal Services which indicated that committee members participating in a meeting by teleconference could vote on amendments but not on the final action on a bill. REP. OLBERG asked if an amendment had been moved and objected to. CHAIR BUNDE answered no, the amendment had been offered. He asked the pleasure of the committee. REP. TOOHEY moved the amendment. REP. OLBERG objected. CHAIR BUNDE noted the objection and called for a roll call vote. Those voting yes were Reps. Kott, Toohey and Bunde. Those voting no were Reps. Vezey, Olberg, B. Davis, Nicholia and G. Davis. The motion failed 3-5. CHAIR BUNDE noted that the committee was then considering the bill without amendments. He invited Carl Rose to testify and noted that there were people waiting to testify from Kuspuk, Anchorage and Petersburg. Number 543 CARL ROSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ASSOCIATION OF ALASKA SCHOOL BOARDS, testified in Juneau in opposition to HB 210, saying that the association supported local control of school districts. He said that school boards have legal responsibility for all of a district's activities and have large legal exposure. He said school boards are elected to establish policy under the direction of their local communities, and school administrators are hired to administer the execution of such policies. He said superintendents in smaller districts also serve as teachers or principals, as opposed to superintendents in larger school districts, where superintendents are more like chief executive officers. He said that having one administrator could not carry out the spirit of the policies established by five different school boards. He said school districts needed an administrator on-site to deal with negotiation, grievances, policies, budgeting and other issues. He said first-class cities which tax for schools, or communities which qualified for PL-874 funds in lieu of taxes, therefore had a right to have their own school districts. He offered to work with the sponsor or committee to address the issue of educational service delivery and administration, saying that all issues had not been addressed. He said he was not sure of the bill's objective, and said that there would be other ways to save money. Number 593 REP. TOOHEY noted that there was a push on for the state to get its spending in line with its income. She said that bills such as HB 210 were an effort to cut the budget. She asked Mr. Rose to come back with other suggestions as to how to cut government expenses because the state was not going to find another Prudhoe Bay. TAPE 93-57, SIDE B Number 000 MR. ROSE said he would be glad to do so, as he had many recommendations, though some people might not like them. REP. TOOHEY reminded him that the bottom line was that the state was running out of money. Number 006 CHAIR BUNDE said he would support the bill if it saved money. He said he was interested in getting more money in the classroom and allowing less money to leak into other costs along the way to the classroom. He said there were 11 schools which spent more than 10 percent of their budgets on administrative payroll, compared to 3 percent in the Anchorage School District. He noted one school district which served fewer than 500 students but which had 27 people on an administrative payroll earning $1 million in a district with less than 500 students. He said the committee did not hate small school districts, but noted that the state just did not have as much money available as it once did. He apologized if he appeared adversarial, but said his intention was to ensure more money reached classrooms. He said the state took many steps to cut costs, such as holding meetings by teleconference, and suggested remote school districts should try such methods. He acknowledged that school boards needed to be accountable to local communities, but said superintendents are simply employees and could be shared by more than one district. Number 068 MR. ROSE said he might have questions about the figures Chair Bunde had cited, and expressed a preference for using his own figures. He said that some of the information he had provided in response to questions from Rep. Martin involved executive-level and director-level positions, not administrative positions. REP. G. DAVIS said he did not support the bill, but did support its aim of making the educational system aware of the need for changes. He said that if schools could always get whatever money they wanted from the state, there would be no possibility of change. He said if people knew the days of unlimited money were gone, they might be more likely to examine the operations of the educational system. He said he doubted whether Alaska 2000 addressed that issue, as it was likely to result in more educational spending. He said he still had faith in the system and the ability of the educational community to abide by the demands of the public. CHAIR BUNDE invited those at remote sites to testify by teleconference. Number 125 LEO MORGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE KUSPUK SCHOOL DISTRICT, testified via teleconference from Aniak in opposition to HB 210. He doubted that a single superintendent could serve the districts of Iditarod or Kuspuk as they were too large and diverse. He said individual school sites feel neglected within these large school districts. He said linking more than one together would raise too many problems. He said the districts would resist the bill, and predicted many lawsuits if HB 210 passed. CHAIR BUNDE said he had been to Aniak, Bethel, Stony River, Sleetmute and Red Devil and he thought he had some feeling for conditions and diversity. He said he felt that the difference between Aniak and Bethel was no greater than that between Eagle River and Girdwood, or between Spenard and Muldoon, which are all served by one school district and one superintendent. He said he understood the diversity of different areas, but asked him to understand the need for economy. REP. NICHOLIA noted that Girdwood and Eagle River were on the road system, while Bethel was not, and therefore had higher expenses. Number 167 REP. VEZEY pointed out that there were some school districts that covered hundreds of miles. REP. NICHOLIA pointed out that the Yukon Flats and Yukon Koyukuk school districts were in regions. CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no further requests to testify, closed public testimony on HB 210 and asked the will of the committee. Number 186 REP. TOOHEY asked Mr. Rose to return in a week or two to discuss revisions to the bill with the sponsor and possibly with a subcommittee of the HESS Committee. CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Rose if he had time and interest in such a meeting. MR. ROSE replied, "I would do so willingly." Number 200 CHAIR BUNDE appointed a subcommittee of the HESS Committee, consisting of Rep. Toohey as chair, with Rep. Nicholia and Rep. G. Davis as members. He asked Rep. Toohey to convene a meeting at a suitable time such that it could report back to the HESS Committee within a week, and invited anyone else who wanted to attend to do so. He also asked that Rep. Martin be notified of those plans. REP. B. DAVIS said the state needed to have more efficient school operations, but said she did not think HB 210 would save money. She suggested volunteer workers might help make changes. She also said that one superintendent could not serve four or five school districts at a time, and that superintendents did not last more than three years even when they were responsible for one school district. CHAIR BUNDE brought HB 195 to the table and noted that the teleconferenced portion of the meeting was at an end.