Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/17/1993 01:32 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
The only order of business to come before the committee was SB 61 (IMPLEMENT ALASKA 2000 RECOMMENDATIONS). Chairman Rieger indicated that the committee would review the legislation section by section. SENATOR SALO referred to the first section relating to flexibility in funding grants for school improvement and said she would like an explanation as to why the words "to a district located in the state" on page 3, line 1, was deleted. The sentence would then read, "The fund shall be used by the commissioner to make grants for the purpose of improving public school performance." SHEILA PETERSON, Special Assistant, Department of Education, said the wording was deleted at the drafter's request as he felt it was redundant when the word "public" was inserted. She indicated the department wouldn't object to inserting the wording back in the bill. Senator Salo moved that the following amendment be adopted as Amendment #1: Page 3, line 1, delete "[TO A DISTRICT LOCATED IN THE STATE]." Insert "to a district located in the state." SENATOR LEMAN objected saying he didn't feel the amendment was necessary. A hand count was taken as to who was in favor of Amendment #1. Senators Ellis, Sharp, Salo, Miller, and Rieger were in favor of the motion. Senator Leman was against the motion. Senator Duncan wasn't present for the vote. Number 117 Senator Salo said she believes that the sections that deal with flexibility in funding grants for school improvement are very important and are good aspects of the bill. She discussed survey results that were taken during the Alaska 2000 project. SENATOR ELLIS said Section 1 states the purpose. He said in previous years, he introduced legislation to set goals for public education. The legislation passed the House almost unanimously, but was opposed throughout the process by Commissioner Covey and people of Alaska 2000. They asked that the bill not be passed as they were doing the same thing with Alaska 2000. Senator Ellis said they opposed his legislation every step of the way and didn't do the same thing as the bill did. He said he doesn't believe that SB 61 is an adequate statement of goals for the public education system. Section 1 is inadequate and he said he hopes to bring an amendment forward at a later date. SENATOR RIEGER said the committee would discuss sections which deal with increasing the school term. SENATOR SALO explained she believes there are better ways to expend the money which would be used for extending the school term. She gave committee members a written amendment. Senator Rieger pointed out to the committee that there is written testimony submitted by the Association of Alaska School Boards and NEA-Alaska. Senator Salo referred to her amendment and said the basic concept is to spend the money that it would cost to extend the school year on increasing the instructional unit by $1 thousand. She moved that Amendment #2 be adopted: Page 2, lines 3-28: delete all material Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 3, after line 31: Insert a new bill section to read: "*Sec. 7. AS 14.17.056 is amended to read: Sec. 14.17.056. instructional unit value. The INSTRUCTIONAL UNIT VALUE IS $62,000 [$61,000]." Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 6, line 30: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 7, line 6: Delete "13(e)" Insert "12(3)" Page 10, line 5: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 7: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 8: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 9: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 20: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 21: Delete "23-25" Insert "22, 23, and 24" Page 10, line 25: Delete "21" Insert "20" Page 10, line 26: Delete "Sections 1 and 4-19" Insert "Sections 1-18" Page 10, line 27: Delete all material. Renumber the following bill section accordingly. Page 10, line 28: Delete "Section 20" Insert "Section 19". Number 248 SENATOR MILLER objected to the adoption of Amendment #2. SENATOR ELLIS said the department has contended that the legislation won't cost anything as there is a zero fiscal note. He asked if it is theoretical money. SENATOR SALO said there is a zero fiscal note but there is written material saying the estimated cost to extend the school year would be about $3 million per day. She said if she recalls correctly, if the unit value is increased by $1 thousand, it would be $35 to $50 million. If the school year were to be increased by three days the cost would be over $10 million. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked what the fiscal affect would be per $1 thousand. MS. PETERSON said she believe it would be about $12 million for each $1 thousand increment in the unit value. Senator Ellis asked if there is also flexibility of school districts wanting to increase the hours of contact time during the day to achieve their goal. Ms. Peterson indicated the answer is "yes." She explained it has the educational equivalent of 183 days. Senator Ellis referred to the amendment and said he supports the increase in the instructional unit value. Number 299 SENATOR SHARP referred to Amendment #2 being extensive and said he would have to vote against it unless he had more time to review it. CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he is under the impression the solution to part of the puzzle is increased contact time. He said he will be opposing Amendment #2. SENATOR DUNCAN said he will support the amendment. He said he is having a hard time understanding the argument of increased contact time if it is not quality contact time. SENATOR SALO referred to the urban schools and said most people would agree that the biggest problem they probably face is class size. A big problem in rural schools is course offerings, not being able to offer a variety of courses, and not having the number of instructors that are trained in those courses. She said that is why she believes that the instructional unit value is a quid pro quo for the amount of time in school because the quality of education versus the quantity is enhanced by the ability of the district to offer smaller class size or better course offerings. Senator Salo said the increased school year section of the bill has tremendous opposition from parents, particularly in the rural areas where going to fish camp is a very important part of life and education. Senator Salo said she would be happy to share with members a different amendment with an entirely different concept before the next meeting. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Senator Salo if she wanted to withdraw Amendment #2. Senator Salo indicated she did. There was general discussion regard lengthening the school year and contact time. Number 425 Senator Salo moved that Amendment #3 be adopted. The following is Amendment #3: Page 2, lines 3-28: Delete all material Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 3, after line 31: Insert a new bill section to read: "*Sec. 7. AS 14.17.056 is amended to read: "Sec 14.17.056. INSTRUCTIONAL UNIT VALUE. The instructional unit value is $61,000, except that for a district that increases the district's school term to not less than 183 days in session, the instructional unit value is $62,000." Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 6, line 30: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 7, line 6: Delete "13(e)" Insert "12(e)" Page 10, line 5: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 7: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 8: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 9: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 20: Delete "12-19" Insert "11-18" Page 10, line 21: Delete "23-25" Insert "22, 23, and 24" Page 10, line 25: Delete "21" Insert "20" Page 10, line 26: Delete "Sections 1 and 4-19" Insert "Sections 1-18" Page 10, line 27: Delete all material. Renumber the following bill section accordingly. Page 10, line 28: Delete "Section 20" Insert "Section 19". Senator Salo explained that Amendment #3 would put a fiscal note on the bill. Instead of having a mandated 183 day school year, it would allow the districts to access the increased unit amount if they go to 183 day school year. She noted it does not continue to 200 days, it deals with their incremental increase. Senator Salo requested the committee members to review her amendment. Senator Rieger said the amendment would be heard at the end of the discussion on SB 61, so he would consider the amendment not offered. Number 464 SENATOR ELLIS referred to "in service days" and asked if they should be considered in addition to the school days. He asked if districts should be given the flexibility to deal with that. Senator Salo said they can currently take their in service time, up to ten days, out of student contact time. She noted it is viewed as student contact time by the department for the purpose of funding, etc. She explained that some districts have longer teacher school years. Some have accessed the full ten days and others access rarely and not to the extent of the full ten days. The next section the committee discussed was tenure. SENATOR DUNCAN indicated concern that tenure is part of the bill. He said he has not seen the justification or the need to change tenure rights. Senator Duncan referred to SB 61 and moved to delete everything beginning on page 4, line 1 through page 6, line 28. He said his intent is to delete the discussion regarding tenure. There were several objections to Senator Duncan's motion. CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he would like to hear brief testimony from DOE, the Association of Alaska School Boards, and NEA- Alaska. VINCE BARRY, Director, Education Program Support, Department of Education, said throughout Alaska 2000, the tenure issue was divisive. One of the points that he found while looking at the issue was that a vast majority of school teachers thought the U.S. was doing an excellent job. About 94 percent of them don't have any problems. Mr. Barry said the teachers themselves make the point that the retaining of poor teachers has to do with the administration. The administration falls short in terms of the valuative process. Mr. Barry explained that the Alaska 2000 Committee recommended local tenure review boards to improve the process of teacher evaluation. The overall effect of the proposal in the bill is accountability for management. CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he seems to remember the complaint, by the education administration, that the tenure award came too fast. Actually, only after about one year of teaching a decision could be made even though the statute says two years. He asked when a school district has to make a decision on tenure. Mr. Barry said the decision is made at the signing of the third contract. Number 564 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards, said he has submitted written testimony that expresses the association's position. SB 61 is an attempt to contribute to a higher standard of professional conduct for performance in the classroom. He said he believes the bill falls short of what it was intended to do. Mr. Rose proposed that equal attention be paid to professional preparation, supervision, and evaluation. He said the tenure portion may entail some costs, but it will demonstrate proficiency. He said it goes along way when you are giving the system enough time to accurately evaluate so that you can have success in the classroom. He noted that any real reform which is going to take place will take place in the classroom or it won't take place at all. A suggestion is that some attention be paid to not only instruction, but also to building level leadership administration through supervision of evaluation. Mr. Rose said the whole idea right now is that in most school districts you actually have about eighteen months before you make a decision whether you are going to retain or not retain someone. TAPE 93-12, SIDE A Number 001 Mr. Rose said there has been some criticisms by teacher groups where they don't agree with the evaluation process or the time lines that are involved. He said the association believes that there is great credibility in the issue of licensure. He said he thinks that a document could be created that licenses our professionals. By saying that people aren't only certified, but they are also licensed would go a long way with the public. He continued to discuss how the tenure process currently works. Mr. Rose said another concern identified by school boards was personal files being handled in public, by people who aren't elected and don't have any bounds to confidentiality. He said it could be a legal concern. He said currently there are four provisions for not retaining a tenure teacher: 1. Incompetence 2. Immorality; 3. Substantial non compliance; and 4. A reduction in student enrollment. SENATOR SALO explained that tenure also gives protection on freedom of speech. She said there was a court case out of Seward in the 1970s where two teachers were fired for writing a letter to the newspaper criticizing the superintendent. That condition still exists in the state for all nontenure teachers. There was general discussion regarding tenure. Number 119 CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President, NEA-Alaska, said the section of the bill relating to tenure really doesn't address the issue of improving education. It is a section that speaks to how to form a local review board. She said NEA-Alaska strongly supports competent and professional evaluation practices. Too often teacher evaluation procedures are done just because the law demands it rather than as a way to guide staff development and improve instructional quality. Currently, teacher evaluations are little more than a proforma administrative duty in some districts. It receives minimal resources and occupies, often times, a low priority on an administrator's agenda. NEA-Alaska has been asking for better quality in evaluations for years, but SB 61 goes in the wrong direction. Rather than a better professional evaluation practice or a more rigorous effort on the part of administrators, SB 61 appears to relieve those administrators of their evaluation responsibility. It would limit academic freedom. Ms. Douglas referred to the local tenure review boards in the legislation and said it doesn't set out any requirements or criteria for the five to nine members of the review committee. There is no provision for teachers or the association to share in the appointment process. It is not clear if the sixteen year old member is from that community. She asked if tenure is going to become a popularity contest or politicized. There is no requirement that the tenure review committee will have any first hand knowledge of actual working experience or observations of the teacher in his/her classroom. There is no indication that the committee members would be qualified professionally or by experience to decide whether that teacher deserves tenure or not. Ms. Douglas said the authority of the building principal is confusing. She said NEA-Alaska has some concerns about possible litigation. Denial of tenure could be a reason for filing a claim against due process or equal protection. There could be a claim against a committee without any guidelines, criteria, or training. There would be widely differing results from one district to another as to what the criteria will be. She said it will be expensive. Ms. Douglas referred to a report from Department of Education in terms of the number of nontenure teachers during the year 1991-1992. Statewide, there were over 1,000 nontenure teachers as opposed to 6,000 tenure teachers. There is the potential of 500 people, every year, having to go before a local tenure review committee. She said they have great concern with the idea of the local tenure review boards. Ms. Douglas said she thinks there should more resources and time to make sure that teachers in classrooms are excellent outstanding people. She noted she appreciates the comments made by Mr. Rose regarding evaluations and licensure. Number 215 SENATOR SHARP asked what the requirements are for a teacher to become certificated. Ms. Douglas explained that to receive a "Type A Certificate," you would have to have come through an accredited program. Senator Sharp asked if there is a written exam qualifications prior to full tenure. Ms. Douglas said there isn't in Alaska. CHAIRMAN RIEGER indicated concern with the advisory board appointing a student over sixteen and the publication of the results. He said he could support an amended version of Senator Duncan's amendment which would give the school boards an extra year to train, mentor, and review teachers before tenure is granted. SENATOR DUNCAN asked if he was suggesting to change tenure from two to three years and delete the review section which would create the advisory boards or the local tenure review committees. Chairman Rieger said "yes." Senator Duncan said he wouldn't consider that a friendly amendment. He said he would like a vote on his original amendment. Number 301 A roll call vote was taken on Amendment #4. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, Miller voted "no" to the amendment. Senators Duncan, Ellis, Salo voted "yes." So the amendment failed. Senator Duncan said he would like to offer another amendment which speaks to some of the points brought up about a better process or more evaluations during or prior to the period of time that someone achieves tenure. He said it doesn't speak to Chairman Rieger's concern about changing the tenure requirement from two to three years as he doesn't think that is necessary. He suggested that maybe there should be a better evaluation process during the two years. He said he has a proposed amendment which would delete everything in the bill - page 4, line 1 through page 6, line 28. New bill sections would be inserted which would require an evaluation procedure. The one major change in addition to requiring evaluation procedures, it requires the same evaluation for not only teachers, but also administrators. He continued to review the following Amendment #5: Page 1, line 1: Delete "implementing certain recommendations of Alaska 2000 to improve" Insert "improving" Page 4, line 1 through page 6, line 28: Delete all material Insert new bill sections to read: "* Sec. 9. AS 14.20.130 is amended to read: Sec. 14.20.130. EMPLOYMENT OF TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS. An employer may, after January 1, issue contracts for the following school year to employees regularly qualified in accordance with the regulations of the department. The contract for a superintendent who qualifies under AS 14.20.150(g) may be for more than one school year but may not exceed three consecutive school years. * Sec. 10. AS 14.20.150 is amended by adding new subsections to read: (c) Until a teacher acquires tenure rights under this section, the teacher is on probationary status. While a teacher is on probationary status, the school district shall evaluate the teacher's performance three times each year. If teachers in a district are represented by a bargaining organization, the school district and the bargaining organization representing teachers shall determine the evaluation process through negotiation between the bargaining organization and the district. If teachers in a district are not represented by a bargaining organization, the evaluation process shall be determined by negotiation between the teachers and the district. For teachers, the evaluation instrument shall be developed by a committee, the majority of which shall be composed of teachers who will be evaluated. (d) A school district shall evaluate an administrator's performance three times a year during the first two years of an administrator's employment in the district. For administrators, a committee of the school board shall determine the evaluation instrument. (e) If, in the evaluation process, the performance of a teacher or administrator is found to be deficient, the evaluator shall provide the teacher or administrator with an individual improvement plan. The plan must set out specific, objective goals that the teacher or administrator must achieve in order to secure a satisfactory evaluation. (f) A school district shall provide training for evaluators in the requirements of this section and in the purposes and procedures of evaluation. A school district shall establish in-service opportunities for all teachers and administrators concerning the evaluation system. (g) An administrator who has completed two years of satisfactory service is eligible to receive an employment contract that lasts for more than one year. (h) In this section, (1) "administrator" includes a superintendent of schools, principal of a school, and a person charged with administrative responsibilities; (2) "school district" includes a borough or city school district and a regional educational attendance area." Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 6, line 30: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 7, line 6: Delete "13(e)" Insert "12(e)" Page 10, line 5: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 10, line 7: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 10, line 8: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 10, line 9: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 10, line 20: Delete "12 - 19" Insert "11 - 18" Page 10, line 21: Delete "23 - 25" Insert "22 - 24" Page 10, line 25: Delete "21" Insert "20" Page 10, line 26: Delete "4 - 19" Insert "4 - 18" Page 10, line 28: Delete "20" Insert "19" Number 357 Senator Duncan moved that Amendment #5 be adopted. There were several objections to the amendment. SENATOR SALO asked if a new superintendent in Alaska wouldn't be issued a contract for more than one year at a time until they have completed two years of satisfactory service. They then could be issued a contract up to three years at a time. Senator Duncan said she is correct. He explained that after an administrator has completed two years of satisfactory service, they would be eligible to receive an employment contract that lasts for more than one year. Sentor Duncan continued to discuss his feelings regarding the need for an evaluation process for the administrators. Senator Salo said in most districts, for most nontenure teachers two years is plenty of time to decide if they want the person or if they don't. She said we take the risk of people forcibly leaving the profession after two years because they don't get tenure. Senator Salo explained that she is very distressed that the tenure review committee is included in the bill. She indicated that it wouldn't work well and it has a whole different philosophy. A teacher wouldn't lose their job by not getting tenure. The school district could continue to employ the teacher. Currently, if you don't receive tenure, you won't work for the district anymore. CHAIRMAN RIEGER explained the committee is scheduled to go into a joint meeting with the House HESS Committee. He requested that Amendment #5 remain in a pending status.