Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

01/25/2018 03:30 PM Senate EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
03:30:18 PM Start
03:30:52 PM SB131
04:13:31 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Moved SB 131 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                SB 131-EDUCATION FUNDING; BUDGET                                                                            
3:30:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced the  consideration of  SB 131.  [SB 131,                                                               
version 30-LS1106\A, was before the committee.]                                                                                 
3:31:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony.                                                                                          
3:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
AMY  LUJAN,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Association  of  School                                                               
Business Officials (ALASBO), testified in  support of SB 131. She                                                               
said  ALASBO  and  other  organizations  have  a  joint  position                                                               
statement that timely, reliable funding  is a top priority. Early                                                               
funding is needed  for sound financial management as  well as for                                                               
teacher recruitment and retention.  Sound financial management is                                                               
difficult  to  do  in  absence  of  a  budget.  In  recent  years                                                               
districts  have been  on the  razor's edge  for making  decisions                                                               
because there  are not a lot  of reserves now. She  noted that it                                                               
is hard to deliver good  results without good planning.  Teachers                                                               
have difficulty succeeding when  they arrive in rural communities                                                               
at the last  moment with no preparation on  district programs and                                                               
no  cultural integration.  Alaska  has had  hundreds of  unfilled                                                               
teaching  positions in  the fall.  She addressed  Senator Hughes'                                                               
questions  in other  meetings  about the  effect  of a  different                                                               
fiscal  year for  schools. She  said  the fiscal  year should  be                                                               
aligned with the business cycle, which is the school year.                                                                      
3:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LUJAN said  the  date  of April  1  is reasonable,  although                                                               
earlier would  be better.  She liked the  suggestion of  adding a                                                               
hold harmless provision, which would  be that if the deadline was                                                               
not  met districts  would  be  at least  funded  at the  previous                                                               
year's level.                                                                                                                   
3:36:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS said April 1 seemed to make sense.                                                                                
3:36:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH noted that the  Anchorage School District had sent                                                               
a  letter,  which pointed  out  that  March  1 is  the  municipal                                                               
deadline for  a budget.  He wondered  if local  deadlines earlier                                                               
than April 1 would cause problems.                                                                                              
3:37:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUJAN said many localities have a May 1 deadline.                                                                           
3:37:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said Chair Stevens  had chosen April 1 because the                                                               
governor can take actions on his budget in March.                                                                               
3:38:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  asked her to  address the notion that  some might                                                               
think pink-slips would never be issued if the bill became law.                                                                  
3:38:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUJAN  said SB  131 may  not end  pink-slipping, but  it will                                                               
reduce the number  issued. The municipal contribution  may not be                                                               
finalized  until  after  April  1, but  the  state  wouldn't  see                                                               
hundreds of pink-slips issued, which decreases morale.                                                                          
3:39:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said groups could  still advocate for supplemental                                                               
3:40:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUJAN said yes.                                                                                                             
3:40:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  everyone would  like  to  see  supplemental                                                               
funding reduced.                                                                                                                
3:40:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  said   many  teachers  have  told   her  of  the                                                               
challenges, such as behavior, that  impact academic learning. She                                                               
wondered if  there had been  any studies to  look at the  cost of                                                               
distractions caused by behavior problems.                                                                                       
3:42:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LUJAN  said  late  funding  makes it  hard  to  get  special                                                               
education  teachers.  Socioeconomic  issues, the  opioid  crisis,                                                               
make  education more  challenging, but  she did  not know  of any                                                               
cost studies.  The challenge is  made worse by lack  of effective                                                               
planning and not being able to get the right people.                                                                            
3:43:14 PM                                                                                                                    
DEENA BISHOP,  Ph.D., Superintendent, Anchorage  School District,                                                               
testified in support  of SB 131. She said  early funding prevents                                                               
unnecessary layoff notices. The statutory  deadline is May 15 for                                                               
tenured teachers and  the end of school  for nontenured teachers.                                                               
Last year the state budget  was passed after these deadlines, and                                                               
Anchorage  issued layoff  notices to  223 teachers.  Most of  the                                                               
teachers  were recalled,  but the  loss of  morale has  been felt                                                               
throughout the year. And since  other states hire early, the best                                                               
teachers can get jobs elsewhere.                                                                                                
3:45:02 PM                                                                                                                    
ALEX KOPLIN, Representing  self, testified in support  of SB 131.                                                               
He said  that budgeting  earlier provides  a positive  message to                                                               
schools  that  the  jobs  they   do  is  important.  Last  minute                                                               
shuffling and funding  does not respect programs. This  is such a                                                               
positive bill.                                                                                                                  
3:48:28 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSH KEATON,  Vice President, Juneau  School Board,  testified in                                                               
support of SB 131. He shared that  he is also on the board of the                                                               
Association  of Alaska  School Boards  (AASB). Juneau's  district                                                               
budget deadline  is at the  end of  March. Not knowing  the state                                                               
contribution creates  a frustrating,  endless cycle  of budgeting                                                               
for  various  scenarios  while  trying   to  meet  the  needs  of                                                               
students.  For five  to six  years  they have  been dealing  with                                                               
constant cuts while trying to maintain services.                                                                                
3:51:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KEATON  said  AASB  supports  SB  131,  and  April  1  is  a                                                               
reasonable date.                                                                                                                
3:52:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH pointed  out that  SB 131  does not  have a  hold                                                               
harmless clause.                                                                                                                
3:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT POTTER,  Staff, Sitka School District,  testified in support                                                               
of SB 131.  He said the uncertainty caused by  layoff notices can                                                               
cause teachers to  leave the state. When teachers  know they will                                                               
be retained,  morale is  better. The  uncertainty harms  the most                                                               
vulnerable  populations. Districts  can  plan  better with  early                                                               
budgeting and  hire when the  pool of candidates is  stronger. He                                                               
said early planning allows commitment to multiyear projects.                                                                    
3:55:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CASS POOK,  Vice-President, Sitka  School District,  testified in                                                               
support of SB 131. She shared that  she is also on the AASB board                                                               
and is an  Alaska Native and advocate for  Alaska Native students                                                               
and low-income  students. Early funding  to provide  more clarity                                                               
for the budget process has been  a concern for many years for the                                                               
Sitka  School Board  and  AASB. Early  funding  shows respect  to                                                               
teachers,  staff, and  students and  allows a  quality education.                                                               
Late budgeting is also not fair to business managers.                                                                           
3:57:18 PM}                                                                                                                   
ERIC VAN  CISE, Clerk, Sitka  School Board, testified  in support                                                               
of SB  131. He said  the city of  Sitka has a  significant budget                                                               
deficit, unlike ever before. Without  a budget, the district must                                                               
issue layoff  notices to  nontenured teachers  and make  plans to                                                               
cut  programs.  Once  the  budget is  known,  the  district  must                                                               
scramble to  hire. "The avalanche  effect of  midsummer decisions                                                               
is beyond  words that I  can really come  up with right  now," he                                                               
said. He  pointed out  that a hold  harmless provision  would not                                                               
account for  increased costs and  that even with a  hold harmless                                                               
clause, Sitka would still be $800,000 in the hole.                                                                              
4:01:31 PM                                                                                                                    
ELIAS  ERICKSON, Representing  self, testified  in support  of SB
131. He  shared that  he is  a high school  senior at  Sitka High                                                               
School, a member of the Sitka  School Board, and president of the                                                               
high  school  student  council.  He said  SB  131  allows  school                                                               
districts  to make  confident and  sound financial  decisions. In                                                               
December of  2017 Alaska had  153 open teaching  positions, which                                                               
affects student learning.                                                                                                       
4:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
IAN RABL, Representing  self, testified in support of  SB 131. He                                                               
said that he  is an exchange student from Austria  and that it is                                                               
unfair to  the Sitka  School Board  and the  students to  have to                                                               
develop a  budget before knowing  funding levels. He said  he was                                                               
very  disappointed  that he  could  not  take French  because  of                                                               
program cuts the school district has had to make.                                                                               
4:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
PETE  HOEPFNER,  Member,  Cordova   School  Board,  testified  in                                                               
support of SB  131. He said issuing pink-slips  has created havoc                                                               
in the  personal lives  of teachers. The  state needs  to respect                                                               
teachers  by fully  funding education  early  in the  legislative                                                               
session.  AASB  has  talked  for  years of  the  need  for  early                                                               
education funding.                                                                                                              
4:07:01 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  BOYLE, Representing  self, testified  in opposition  to SB
131. He said the legislature should  not take anything out of the                                                               
normal budgeting  process by department or  function because that                                                               
may incentivize other agencies,  including the university system,                                                               
to try to  do the same thing. The last  hired, first fired policy                                                               
is responsible  for losing young  teachers and keeping  some less                                                               
effective teachers. The  question to ask should be  how will this                                                               
improve student achievement. If it doesn't, don't do it.                                                                        
4:09:35 PM                                                                                                                    
MR BOYLE said  the committee has mostly heard from  people on the                                                               
state payroll.  School boards should  not approve  contracts they                                                               
cannot pay for.                                                                                                                 
4:10:36 PM                                                                                                                    
OLIVER LAMKIN,  Representing self (age 10),  testified in support                                                               
of SB 131. He said he supports early funding of schools.                                                                        
4:11:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS closed  public testimony and asked the  will of the                                                               
4:11:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  moved  to  report   SB  131,  version  A,  from                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached  zero                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
4:11:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced that seeing  no objection, SB  131 moved                                                               
from the Senate Education Standing Committee.                                                                                   

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