Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/14/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 100-EDUCATION GRANTS; CORRS STUDY; ALLOTMENTS 3:37:19 PM CHAIR STEVENS brought the meeting back to order. Present were Senators Gardner, Dunleavy, and Chair Stevens. CHAIR STEVENS announced that the final order of business would be SB 100. 3:38:02 PM SENATOR DUNLEAVY moved to adopt the CS for the Sponsor Substitute for SB 100 ("SB 100"), labeled 28-LS0425\G, as the working document. CHAIR STEVENS objected for discussion. SHEILA PETERSON, Staff, Senator Mike Dunleavy, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, presented changes to SB 100 on behalf of the sponsor. She began with the change on page 3, line 28, that says that the individual learning plan (ILP) that is with the correspondence program must be developed with the assistance "and approval" of the certified teacher assigned to the student. The next change is on page 4, line 8, that makes sure that the progress of the student's work is monitored by the certified teacher. CHAIR STEVENS asked if it is for correspondence study. MS. PETERSON said yes. She noted all changes relate to a correspondence study program. She turned to page 4, line 19, where it says materials purchased from a "public", private, or religious organization, must be "non-sectarian" in nature, an addition that the committee voted to approve at the last meeting. The new Version G also includes that the vendors are "public" - an oversight. CHAIR STEVENS asked for a definition of non-sectarian. SENATOR DUNLEAVY said "not religious." 3:41:16 PM MS. PETERSON described the next change on page 4, line 24, where it talks about the textbooks, services, and other curriculum that will be used in the learning plan following guidelines that are appropriate for the public school system. This language was taken from regulation. It says that textbooks must go with the course of study, appropriate to the course of study, have been approved by a school district, are appropriate for the age and learning plan of the student, aligned with state standards, and that they comply with AS 14.03.090 and AS 14.18.060, sections in statute that deal with materials not being partisan, sectarian, or advocating for a doctrine. They also must be non- discriminatory. MS. PETERSON addressed the last major change in the CS on page 5, line 8, which deals with the allotment. The allotment can no longer be rolled over but must return to the school district and not to the correspondence program. She said line 11 requires the correspondence program to maintain a record of expenditures and allotments, which may not be used to pay for services provided by a family member. This language also was taken from regulations. 3:44:21 PM MICHAEL HANELY, Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), Juneau, Alaska, provided information on SB 100. He noted that many of the changes in the CS were as a result of conversations with the sponsor and strengthen the bill. He said the sponsor's intent is to provide flexibility for students who are proficient. He said he had concerns about spending public money for things that were not educational. The adjustments to the bill, including on page 3, the approval of the certificated teacher, are already in current language. COMMISSIONER HANLEY said the biggest change is on page 4, line 10, that allows flexibility. The department is to not impose additional requirements and the focus should remain on outcomes. He said the key is on line 17 in regard to student allotments, where money can be spent for the purpose of meeting instructional expenses for the student enrolled in the program. Many changes brought back language already in regulations. 3:47:14 PM CHAIR STEVENS inquired about page 4, line 24, a reference to the regulations of the department. He requested clarity on "non- partisan" and "non-discriminatory" materials. COMMISSIONER HANLEY replied that it aligns with what is currently expected in the public education system regarding curriculum materials, which do not advocate for a particular religion or party and are not discriminatory. BRUCE JOHNSON, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators, Juneau, Alaska, presented information related to SB 100. He said the vast majority of superintendents in Alaska are in support of SB 100. He spoke favorably of the changes in the bill. One of the major concerns regarding the purchasing of services and materials was assuaged by the addition of "non- sectarian." He concluded that the bill increases opportunity and choice. 3:50:05 PM CHAIR STEVENS removed his objection. There being no further objection, Version G was before the committee. 3:50:28 PM STUART MCDONALD, Superintendent, Kodiak Island Borough School District, Kodiak, Alaska, testified in support of SB 100, especially of the 1.0 funding factor and how it would make a difference to his district. He spoke of the difficulties of serving correspondence students in remote areas. He said the funding will give parents better access to certified, highly qualified teachers. He spoke of the advantages of AASB's Consortium for Digital Learning Initiative. The bill provides an opportunity for a technology grant. CHAIR STEVENS asked about page 4 regarding textbooks, services, and curriculum. He inquired if the district is doing these things now. MR. MCDONALD said yes. He added that they recently went through an audit of the correspondence program and made corrections under existing regulations. 3:53:25 PM ROBERT WHICKER, Consortium for Digital Learning, Alaska Association of School Boards (AASB), Eloy, Arizona, offered to answer questions about SB 100's personalized learning opportunity grant. He addressed local choice of vendor in the Alaska 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative. Vendors need to provide a device that is full-featured, has storage, and can provide creativity, but not limited to specific size or details. This would allow multiple vendors to participate and provide professional development and technical services. CHAIR STEVENS asked how vendors would be chosen. MR. WHICKER said the 1:1 Initiative is meant for the regular teacher to integrate technology within the classroom. The district would choose the vendors for hardware, professional development and technical services. The curriculum would also be determined by the district, the school, and the teacher in the classroom. 3:57:07 PM ANGELA WASHINGTON, Board of Directors, Alaska State Board of Education, Kotzebue, Alaska, testified in support of SB 100. She stressed how important this bill is to students, especially in rural areas. Teachers will have the ability to use technology throughout the curriculum, such as in a science lab. MICHELLE HAND, representing herself, Palmer, Alaska, testified in support of SB 100. She spoke in favor of the flexibility of using allotment funds and choosing vendors, which would provide for making long-term ILP's. She gave an example of planning a curriculum that would include welding, a science lab, and music lessons. She shared that she is a home school mom. CHAIR STEVENS thanked Ms. Hand. 4:01:03 PM PETER HOEPFNER, President, Cordova School Board, Cordova School District, testified in support of SB 100. He spoke also as a parent and shared his experience with home school programs and technology. He said students who travel have been able to keep up with coursework due to technology. He stressed the importance of technology and the 1:1 initiative. 4:03:36 PM STEVE BRADSHAW, Superintendent, Sitka School District, Sitka, Alaska, testified in support of SB 100. He said the Sitka School Board stands in support of the bill. The district is looking forward to the opportunity to receive a 1:1 grant. SENATOR DUNLEAVY said SB 100 is a bill that attempts to incentivize and support individualized learning approaches. It recognizes a variety of correspondence school models. The bill will engage many more students and parents at a lower cost. 4:05:27 PM CHAIR STEVENS held SB 100 in committee. Public testimony was open.