Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

02/10/2020 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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08:03:28 AM Start
08:04:30 AM Presentation(s): Association of Alaska School Boards
10:00:46 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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+ Presentation by Alaska Assoc. of School Boards TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 10, 2020                                                                                        
                           8:03 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
[One vacant seat as of 1/25/2020]                                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S): ASSOCIATION OF ALASKA SCHOOL BOARDS                                                                            
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
NORM WOOTEN, Executive Director                                                                                                 
Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided opening remarks for the                                                                         
presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards and                                                                     
offered remarks to the committee.                                                                                               
STARR MARSETT, President                                                                                                        
Anchorage School Board                                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented PowerPoint slideshow entitled                                                                  
"Good Things in ASD" during the presentation on the Association                                                                 
of Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                        
NEERYA BRU, Student                                                                                                             
East High School                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments  and answered questions of                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
DEBBIE CAREY, Board Member                                                                                                      
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District                                                                                         
Ninilchik, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School  Boards during the presentation  on the Association                                                               
of Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                        
KAEGAN KOSKI, Student                                                                                                           
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District                                                                                         
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in  support of HB 198  during the                                                             
presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                        
FLORENCE SARREN, Student                                                                                                        
Bering Strait School District                                                                                                   
Unalakleet, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in  support of HB 181  during the                                                             
presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                        
JORDAN SEGUNIK, Student,                                                                                                        
Shaktoolik High School                                                                                                          
Bering Strait School District                                                                                                   
Shaktoolik, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in  support of HB 181  during the                                                             
presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                        
KATIE OLIVER, Board Member                                                                                                      
Kodiak Island Borough School District Board of Education                                                                        
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
JUDY CARSTENS, Board Member                                                                                                     
Kodiak Island Borough School District Board of Education                                                                        
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
DEBRA ADAMS, Teacher                                                                                                            
Cordova City School District                                                                                                    
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
PETE HOEPHNER, Board Member                                                                                                     
Cordova City School District                                                                                                    
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
RICHARD LEE, Interim Superintendent                                                                                             
Kashunamiut School District                                                                                                     
Chevak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
KAY ANDREWS, President                                                                                                          
Southwest Region Schools                                                                                                        
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
JOHN ATCHAK, Board Member                                                                                                       
Kashunamiut School District                                                                                                     
Chevak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
ETHAN SUNDOWN, Student                                                                                                          
Lower Kuskokwim School District                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in  support of HB 181  during the                                                             
presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                        
BART MWAREY, Superintendent                                                                                                     
Hydaburg City School District                                                                                                   
Hydaburg, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
Patrick Williams, Teacher                                                                                                       
Bethel Regional High School                                                                                                     
Lower Kuskokwim School District                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided comments  to the  committee during                                                             
the presentation on the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                    
GREGORY SLATS, Board Member                                                                                                     
Kashunamiut School District                                                                                                     
Chevak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
WILLIAM SPROTT, Superintendent                                                                                                  
Yakutat School District                                                                                                         
Yakutat, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided district  updates and  comments to                                                             
the  committee  during the  presentation  on  the Association  of                                                               
Alaska School Boards.                                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:03:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  ANDI   STORY  called   the  House   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   8:03  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Johnson, Hopkins,  Zulkosky, Drummond, and Story  were present at                                                               
the call to order.                                                                                                              
^PRESENTATION(S): Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                           
      PRESENTATION(S): Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                  
[Contains discussion of HB 198, HB 181, SB 6, and HB 204.]                                                                      
8:04:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be a presentation by the Association of Alaska School Boards.                                                                   
8:04:56 AM                                                                                                                    
NORM  WOOTEN, Executive  Director, Association  of Alaska  School                                                               
Boards,  explained that  this is  the  boards' first  legislative                                                               
fly-in, consisting of  80 school board members,  plus 20 students                                                               
who participated in the Youth  Advocacy Institute on Saturday and                                                               
learned  how to  participate in  school boards  and advocate  for                                                               
students and educational  programs.  He shared  that the students                                                               
also  are   visiting  individual  legislators,  and   he  thanked                                                               
committee members for scheduling time to visit with students.                                                                   
8:06:24 AM                                                                                                                    
STARR  MARSETT,   President,  Anchorage  School  Board,   gave  a                                                               
PowerPoint presentation entitled "Good  Things in ASD" [hard copy                                                               
included in  the committee  packet].  Referring  to slide  two of                                                               
the  PowerPoint, entitled  "Anchorage  School  District: A  Solid                                                               
Investment," she  drew attention  to the statistics  of Anchorage                                                               
School District  (ASD) on the  slide.   She pointed out  that ASD                                                               
consists of  more than 46,500  students and noted that  the grade                                                               
levels within ASD consist of  kindergarten through twelfth grade.                                                               
She went on to explain the  racial demographic of ASD consists of                                                               
58 percent students of color and  42 percent white students.  She                                                               
highlighted that  the four-year  graduation rate increased  to 84                                                               
percent, while the five-year graduation  rate rose to 87 percent.                                                               
The  district  has  92  buildings and  is  the  largest  facility                                                               
footprint after  UA (University of  Alaska).  She  concluded that                                                               
ASD is the eighth largest employer in Alaska.                                                                                   
MS MARSETT, referring to slide  three of the PowerPoint, entitled                                                               
"Career  Technical Education,"  explained  that Career  Technical                                                               
Education (CTE)  programs exist in  ASD high schools  and include                                                               
curricula such as  biomedical and culinary.  She  noted that King                                                               
Tech High School  is the focus center of CTE  and consists of 200                                                               
full-time students  - 800  part time  students and  an additional                                                               
200 part  time students in ASD's  third session.  She  noted that                                                               
the CTE  program serves a  total of approximately  1,200 students                                                               
in King Tech High School.                                                                                                       
MS MARSETT, referring  to slide four of  the PowerPoint, entitled                                                               
"Newest CTE Program: Growing Our  Own," explained that one of the                                                               
newest CTE programs is "Educators  Rising," where ASD is "Growing                                                               
Our Own" teachers.   She testified that ASD's  biggest concern is                                                               
teachers that  look like students.   Bartlett High School  has 23                                                               
ninth-  and tenth-grade  students enrolled  in this  CTE program.                                                               
Eleventh- and  twelfth-grade students are then  enrolled in ASD's                                                               
"middle college,"  which provides General  Education Requirements                                                               
towards a  Bachelor of  Science (BS) in  Education.   Ms. Marsett                                                               
explained that  these students  then apply  for a  two-year post-                                                               
secondary  program,  during  which  the  students  are  hired  as                                                               
student  aide interns.   She  went on  to explain  that the  cost                                                               
savings  from not  paying benefits  to interns  results in  a net                                                               
savings,  which allows  ASD to  take advantage  of the  students'                                                               
skillsets,  pay  for  the two-year,  post-secondary  program  for                                                               
students to earn  their BS in Education, and  then these students                                                               
are asked to  contract with ASD for a commitment  of two years or                                                               
repay the  post-secondary costs.   She indicated  that this  is a                                                               
way to  create diversity  among ASD teachers  and "grow  our own"                                                               
teachers from and in Alaska.                                                                                                    
8:09:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MARSETT, referring to slide  five of the PowerPoint, entitled                                                               
"Fine Arts,"  explained that  the photo  in the  slide is  one of                                                               
"Sonic  Boom," which  consists of  over 2,000  sixth-grade first-                                                               
year  music  students  enrolled  in  band  and  orchestra.    She                                                               
explained that  ASD is still  offering art programs  to students,                                                               
to allow the students more choices.                                                                                             
8:09:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MS MARESTT,  referring to slide  six of the  PowerPoint, entitled                                                               
"World Language  and Immersion Programs,"  explained that  ASD is                                                               
diverse with over  100 different languages spoken  by the student                                                               
body, of  which Yupik  is one of  the top five.   She  also noted                                                               
that ASD is  the first school district in the  nation to offer an                                                               
indigenous  50/50 immersion  school.   The  district also  offers                                                               
Japanese, Spanish,  Russian, German,  Chinese, and French  in the                                                               
foreign language program.                                                                                                       
8:09:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MS MARSETT, referring to slide  seven of the PowerPoint, entitled                                                               
"Preschool," explained  that ASD has expanded  preschool in areas                                                               
of  low  enrollment  and  which have  space  available,  ASD  has                                                               
created a fourth  tier of bussing resulting in  cost savings that                                                               
offset the cost of an  additional six pre-K classrooms this year.                                                               
She explained that  80 percent of ASD students  enrolled in pre-K                                                               
are  moving  into  kindergarten  and  general  education  without                                                               
requiring an Individualized Education Program (IEP).                                                                            
MS.  MARESTT,  referring  to  slide   eight  of  the  PowerPoint,                                                               
entitled "Lower Yukon School District  Partnership," said this is                                                               
a partnership  of which ASD  is very  proud.  She  explained that                                                               
ASD brings Lower Yukon School  District (LYSD) students into King                                                               
Tech High School,  which has enabled ASD to  provide a third-tier                                                               
session.    She indicated  that  basketball  in the  rural  areas                                                               
tended  to  distract  students  from  attending  King  Tech  High                                                               
School,  but  she  was  hopeful   that  students  will  elect  to                                                               
prioritize  participation in  the  CTE programs.   She  explained                                                               
that the LYSD partnership has enabled  ASD to provide CTE at King                                                               
Tech for an additional 200 students, at no cost to ASD.                                                                         
8:11:09 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MARESTT,  referring  to  slide   eight  of  the  PowerPoint,                                                               
entitled "Efficient use  of Time, Space &  Funds," explained that                                                               
in  addition  to  CTE third-sessions  through  partnerships  with                                                               
other  districts, and  the six  additional preschool  classrooms,                                                               
ASD has  closed or merged  five different schools in  four years.                                                               
She explained  that in  2017, ASD  closed Mt.  Iliamna Elementary                                                               
School,  and  moved  Crossroads   Alternative  School  to  Benson                                                               
Secondary  School; in  [2019], ASD  closed  Mt. Spurr  Elementary                                                               
School and  co-located PAIDEIA Cooperative School  within Central                                                               
Middle School;  in 2020 ,  ASD plans to co-locate  AVAIL [school]                                                               
within Benson Secondary School to realize additional savings.                                                                   
MS.  MARSETT  explained  that ASD  is  currently  developing  its                                                               
budget and has an approximate  $19.5 million deficit and plans to                                                               
eliminate the "IGNITE" program [ASD  gifted and talented program]                                                               
and  to  deliver elementary  health  differently;  instead of  by                                                               
health teachers, it will be  delivered through physical education                                                               
(PE), in a classroom, or  through librarians.  She explained that                                                               
ASD is  receiving a lot of  feedback on cuts, and  ASD is looking                                                               
carefully  at  all  cuts.    She  noted  that  ASD  is  examining                                                               
boundaries to shift capacity differentials.   She indicated that,                                                               
despite  efficiencies  and  innovative approaches  to  delivering                                                               
programs to  students, ASD predicts  that it will be  required to                                                               
cut additional programs in the future.                                                                                          
8:13:18 AM                                                                                                                    
NEERYA BRU, High School Senior,  East High School, testified that                                                               
she joined  student government  in ninth  grade, and  in eleventh                                                               
grade, joined  the SAB (Student  Advisory Board).   She testified                                                               
that  she viewed  the  legislative fly-in  as  an opportunity  to                                                               
learn more.                                                                                                                     
MS.  BRU  testified  that  at   East  High  School,  the  student                                                               
population is  diverse.   She recognized  high CTE  third session                                                               
enrollment,  as well  as  that  a majority  of  CTE students  are                                                               
participating  in the  nursing  program.   She  testified ASD  is                                                               
providing an amazing opportunity  that is otherwise not available                                                               
in the students' communities.                                                                                                   
8:14:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY indicated  her excitement  regarding the                                                               
Yupik language  immersion program and noted  that Lower Kuskokwim                                                               
School District  (LKSD) has had  a Yupik immersion  program since                                                               
the 1990s.   She asked Ms. Marsett how the  ASD and LKSD programs                                                               
are different or similar.                                                                                                       
8:14:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MARSETT explained  that the ASD Yupik immersion  program is a                                                               
50/50  program, meaning  that students  spend half  of their  day                                                               
[immersed] in English, and half  of their day is spent [immersed]                                                               
in Yupik.                                                                                                                       
8:15:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked  to  refer to  slide  two  of  the                                                               
PowerPoint  presentation, specifically  to  the  statistic of  84                                                               
percent graduation rate.  She  asked to what group that statistic                                                               
applies:  students  starting that  school  year  or overall  from                                                               
freshman year?                                                                                                                  
8:15:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MARSETT  answered it  is 84 percent  graduation rate  of that                                                               
8:15:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON posed  a follow up to  clarify whether the                                                               
84 percent  rate is  that of  a graduate  who would  have started                                                               
his/her senior year that school year.                                                                                           
MS. MARESTT confirmed this as accurate.                                                                                         
8:16:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY specified that there  is a standard measurement of                                                               
tracking  students that  should include  all four  years of  high                                                               
8:16:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MARSETT  answered that the  84 percent represents a  total of                                                               
that, following those students.                                                                                                 
8:16:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   HOPKINS  indicated   that  Educators   Rising  -                                                               
"growing our own" -  is a very good program and  he is pleased to                                                               
see the vertical  integration and tracking of  these students all                                                               
the way through their education and post-graduation employment.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  indicated  that $19  million  in  budget                                                               
shortfall  is  a   substantial  gap  to  try  to   close  and  he                                                               
appreciates the efforts of ASD,  such as in consolidating schools                                                               
and   evaluating   boundaries;   however,   he   expressed   that                                                               
eliminating  IGNITE  and  the changes  to  the  health  education                                                               
program  were unfortunate.   He  indicated that  several students                                                               
with  whom he  has met  have  stressed the  importance of  health                                                               
education,  and he  asserted that  students  should receive  more                                                               
than the "three R's."                                                                                                           
8:17:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked Ms.  Bru to  share what  topics her                                                               
fellow students have  asked her to bring forward  on their behalf                                                               
to the school board.                                                                                                            
8:17:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BRU  answered that  at East  High School  the top  concern is                                                               
about discipline:  out-of-school  suspension (OSS) and attendance                                                               
rates.  She  indicated that students are happy  with the programs                                                               
as outlined  in the presentation,  and the feedback  she receives                                                               
pertains more to students who do not want to attend classes.                                                                    
8:18:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND expressed  interest  in how  ASD  was able  to                                                               
expand preschool and  save enough money to  create six additional                                                               
classrooms  and will  follow up  in a  separate meeting  with Ms.                                                               
8:18:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY,  referring to slide  three, asked Ms.  Marsett to                                                               
explain  the   bulleted  point  "full  release   internships  for                                                               
8:18:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MARESTT  replied that ASD  works with the  business community                                                               
to provide unpaid  internships according to a  student's field of                                                               
8:19:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY asked  if those  business community  members were                                                               
part of ASD's community partnerships.                                                                                           
MS.  MARSETT indicated  she  could only  answer  the question  in                                                               
part.   She went  on to say  that ASD staff  works with  over 800                                                               
business partners and volunteers to coordinate internships.                                                                     
8:19:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  stated  that  labor  negotiations  often                                                               
revolve  around  health   care.    She  asked   whether  ASD  has                                                               
coordinated  with   state  and   local  government   entities  to                                                               
potentially pool more employees [resulting in cost savings].                                                                    
MS.  MARSETT noted  that  ASD exempt  employees  have Vera  Whole                                                               
Health that  has resulted in  a cost  savings estimated to  be $2                                                               
million.   She  provided examples  of health  plan specifications                                                               
that contributed to  the cost savings.  She  noted that Anchorage                                                               
Education Association  (AEA) is  self-insured and  frequently re-                                                               
negotiates with ASD.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  noted that  ASD  is  the eighth  largest                                                               
employer  in the  state, and  it being  such a  large group,  she                                                               
asked whether there  had been any discussion  about pooling other                                                               
groups for additional cost savings.                                                                                             
MS.  MARSETT   indicated  that  discussions  have   taken  place;                                                               
however,  since AEA  is self-managed,  there  are limitations  to                                                               
potentials for pooling  for [economies of scale] and  ASD has not                                                               
pooled with other groups.                                                                                                       
8:22:58 AM                                                                                                                    
DEBBIE  CAREY,  Board  Member,  Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  School                                                               
District, began her testimony by  noting that the Kenai Peninsula                                                               
Borough  School District  (KPBSD)  values  education and  meeting                                                               
student  needs through  quantifiable  measures and  uses data  to                                                               
inform decisions while allowing choices  that best meet the needs                                                               
of students.   She explained  that KPBSD consists of  42 schools,                                                               
made  up of  small, large,  charter, alternative,  and homeschool                                                               
options.   She  highlighted two  recent recognitions:   Tustumena                                                               
Elementary  School  in Kasilof  was  recognized  by the  National                                                               
Elementary  and  Secondary  Education Act  Distinguished  Schools                                                               
program, and  Carlyn Nichols  of Seward  Middle School  was named                                                               
Alaska Teacher  of the Year  by Alaska Society for  Technology in                                                               
Education  as   a  result  of  her   exceptional  integration  of                                                               
technology, redefining the learning experience of her students.                                                                 
8:23:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CAREY explained  that  KPBSD has  based  its strategic  plan                                                               
around "4 R's,"  explained as:  ready,  relevant, responsive, and                                                               
rigor.    She  described  innovations   in  achieving  goals  and                                                               
students achieving their  lifelong individual learning potentials                                                               
through incorporating "student  voice" [student cultural informed                                                               
teaching]  via videoconferencing,  and application  of technology                                                               
that  includes  videoconferencing  for distance  learning.    She                                                               
noted that Nanwalek  and Port Graham schools  were awarded grants                                                               
through ConnectEd Apple Grant  which expanded their technological                                                               
learning capabilities.                                                                                                          
MS.  CAREY cited  programs such  as Upstream  Academy, innovation                                                               
with  drones,  industry  certifications, Jump  Start,  concurrent                                                               
credits,  college dual  credits,  and CTE.    She attributed  the                                                               
success   of   these   programs    to   timely   and   responsive                                                               
communication.  She  acknowledged unique community collaborations                                                               
with Project GRAD  and Caring for the Kenai.   She explained that                                                               
KPBSD  focuses on  the whole  student, including  mental wellness                                                               
and social/emotional goals.  She  noted that these objectives are                                                               
supported  by  programs such  as  Project  Aware and  Sources  of                                                               
8:26:01 AM                                                                                                                    
KAEGAN KOSKI,  Student, Kenai Peninsula Borough  School District,                                                               
explained  the program,  Sources of  Strength, to  the committee,                                                               
which is  a peer-to-peer support and  suicide prevention program.                                                               
Mr. Koski  also described the  BookNook project  literacy program                                                               
to engage  young students who otherwise  have demonstrated apathy                                                               
towards reading.                                                                                                                
MR. KOSKI  testified in support  of proposed legislation  HB 198.                                                               
He testified  regarding his  own observed  and his  peers' direct                                                               
experience  with "atrocious  acts of  harassment."   He suggested                                                               
that passage  of this legislation  would improve  the educational                                                               
experience for all students.                                                                                                    
8:27:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS thanked  Mr. Koski  and acknowledged  the                                                               
importance and efficacy  of the Sources of Strength  program.  He                                                               
also  acknowledged statewide  cuts to  education and  inquired of                                                               
KPBSD how it would address its budget shortfall.                                                                                
8:28:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CAREY  said that  the district  was once  again strategically                                                               
tapping savings  to offset the  approximate $2  million shortfall                                                               
and noted  that the district would  be unable to continue  to tap                                                               
savings in the  future.  She added that the  district is reaching                                                               
out  to the  communities  within  the district  to  assist it  in                                                               
making plans for potential future budget shortfalls.                                                                            
8:28:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked whether  the [Kenai Peninsula] Borough is                                                               
contributing  the  maximum  it  will  allow  in  terms  of  local                                                               
MS. CAREY  replied that, for  the first  time in many  years, the                                                               
borough will be funding the district up to the cap.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  acknowledged her delight at  Mr. Koski's                                                               
presence and testimony before the  committee.  She explained that                                                               
KPBSD  is  one of  five  "urban"  districts; however,  given  her                                                               
experience  of having  grown up  in  New York  City, the  "urban"                                                               
designation seems  antithetical; KPBSD is rural  and "far flung."                                                               
She asked  whether all  the schools  in the  district are  on the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula.                                                                                                                
MS. CAREY  offered multiple  examples of  areas with  schools not                                                               
specifically  on  the  Kenai peninsula:    Tyonek,  Port  Graham,                                                               
Nanwalek,  and Russian  schools at  the  head of  the bay;  small                                                               
schools  such as  Hope School  in Moose  Pass; and  several large                                                               
high schools such as Kenai  Central High School and Soldotna High                                                               
School.    She also  noted  Ninilchik,  which is  a  kindergarten                                                               
through twelfth grade ("K-12") school.   She described that there                                                               
exists  a variety  of combinations  of grade  levels at  discrete                                                               
schools, including homeschools.                                                                                                 
8:30:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY acknowledged  the exceptionalism  of the                                                               
students who  had testified thus far  at the hearing, as  well as                                                               
those she had  interacted with individually.  She  noted that the                                                               
Alaska State House is wrapping  up budget subcommittee processes.                                                               
She  asked  how  KPBSD  funds suicide  prevention  programs,  and                                                               
whether  the  district  has  adequate   resources  to  fund  this                                                               
important work.                                                                                                                 
MS.  CAREY  offered that  programs  receive  grant funds  through                                                               
Project Aware  and Sources of  Strength.  She expressed  hope for                                                               
continued  funding  availability  through   those  grants.    She                                                               
emphasized  the importance  of  mental  wellness particularly  at                                                               
younger ages, leading to much  stronger high school students, and                                                               
the  district  intends  to  focus   on  younger  students.    She                                                               
continued  naming  additional  sources of  funding  for  specific                                                               
sites,  including  Ninilchik  Traditional  Council  and  "Project                                                               
GRAD," which provides a counselor.                                                                                              
8:32:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ZULKOSKY  suggested   that,  while   Sources  of                                                               
Strength currently  provides the curriculum, the  district should                                                               
be able to provide that curriculum  and would need an increase in                                                               
funds and resources to sustain these programs going forward.                                                                    
MS. CAREY agreed.                                                                                                               
8:32:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  recalled earlier  testimony regarding the  use of                                                               
drones and asked Ms. Carey to elaborate.                                                                                        
MS.  CAREY  explained  that  through the  Caring  for  the  Kenai                                                               
project, Seward  High School  built a drone  using a  3-D printer                                                               
and is working with  the City of Seward to map  flood zones.  She                                                               
continued that Ninilchik and possibly Homer have drone programs.                                                                
8:34:13 AM                                                                                                                    
FLORENCE SARREN,  Student, Bering  Strait School  District, first                                                               
highlighted  the  School   Climate  Connectedness  Survey,  which                                                               
measures  student interest  in school.   She  indicated that  the                                                               
students who have "given up  on school" metric has been favorably                                                               
in decline.  She explained that  only 32 percent of students have                                                               
not given  up, while  68 percent  have given up  on school.   She                                                               
emphasized that her  school and the district  have good programs,                                                               
but there is room for improvement.                                                                                              
MS.  SARREN  testified in  strong  support  of  HB 181,  "An  Act                                                               
relating to  mental health  education."   She testified  that her                                                               
school district  suffers the second  highest suicide rate  in the                                                               
nation.  She opined that this  bill would benefit both the school                                                               
and  the region.   She  claimed that  the implementation  of this                                                               
bill  would  provide  healthy  coping  mechanisms  for  unhealthy                                                               
thoughts among students.                                                                                                        
8:36:17 AM                                                                                                                    
JORDAN SEGUNIK,  Student, Shaktoolik  High School,  Bering Strait                                                               
School District,  testified that  implementation of HB  181 would                                                               
directly positively impact  himself and his peers  to gain skills                                                               
to cope  with negative feelings.   He  explained that some  - but                                                               
not  all  -  members  of  his  community  have  unhealthy  coping                                                               
mechanisms and  suffer from depression  and loss due  to suicide.                                                               
He  suggested that  this bill  would introduce  applicable skills                                                               
into his community to help all residents.                                                                                       
8:37:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  whether Ms. Sarren wished to  add to her                                                               
MS. SARREN  indicated that,  in the  interest of  the committee's                                                               
time, she  would like  to arrange to  meet to  provide additional                                                               
information directly with individual legislators.                                                                               
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND agreed to set up meetings later.                                                                              
8:38:35 AM                                                                                                                    
KATIE  OLIVER,   Board  Member,  Kodiak  Island   Borough  School                                                               
District  Board of  Education, expressed  gratitude on  behalf of                                                               
the   Kodiak  Island   Borough   School   District  (KIBSD)   for                                                               
legislative  support  of  forward  funding of  education,  as  it                                                               
provides essential,  stable, and predictable funding  to meet the                                                               
needs of students and improve  student outcomes across the state.                                                               
Ms. Oliver requested  an increase in the  base student allocation                                                               
inside the foundation formula.   She noted that KIBSD serves over                                                               
2,400  students within  the City  of Kodiak  and in  five smaller                                                               
community schools around the archipelago.                                                                                       
MS.  OLIVER  suggested  that  excellent  work  takes  place  when                                                               
quality  teachers  have a  manageable  number  of students,  when                                                               
students  are challenged,  and when  they can  take advantage  of                                                               
opportunities to  manage to  their own  individual talents.   She                                                               
noted that KIBSD, like other  districts in Alaska, struggles with                                                               
teacher recruitment and retention,  and currently over 40 percent                                                               
of  KIBSD teachers  are untenured,  meaning that  they have  been                                                               
employed  in  the  district  for  fewer than  four  years.    She                                                               
explained that  the district has  unfilled positions, as  well as                                                               
positions  filled  by itinerant  contract  staff.   She  outlined                                                               
increasing  obstacles to  effective recruitment,  including being                                                               
required to  recruit earlier in  the school year, the  high costs                                                               
of  recruitment,  decreasing   local  qualified  applicants,  and                                                               
increased costs associated with staff turnover and training.                                                                    
MS.   OLIVER  stated   that  KIBSD   is  strategizing   to  solve                                                               
recruitment  problems, particularly  in special  education.   She                                                               
noted that KIBSD has an  initiative with the education department                                                               
of  University  of Alaska,  Anchorage,  Kodiak  College in  their                                                               
education department,  in conjunction with community  partners to                                                               
create a pipeline of talent into the district.                                                                                  
MS. OLIVER  testified that  KIBSD's approach  to "grow  your own"                                                               
teachers  is  centered in  arts  and  culture integration  as  an                                                               
approach to  teaching and learning.   She described  the Munartet                                                               
Project Grant  for dual enrollment  credits.  She  explained that                                                               
the district is encouraging education  as a career path available                                                               
to students.   She highlighted that the program is  in its fourth                                                               
year  of  existence and  that  every  teacher who  has  graduated                                                               
Kodiak  College has  been  hired  by the  district.   Ms.  Oliver                                                               
requested  continued legislative  support  of  the University  of                                                               
Alaska to  help grow the  workforce and  to invest in  any majors                                                               
that will  attract teacher  workforce to  Alaska.   She testified                                                               
that KIBSD  supports legislation for additional  funding for pre-                                                               
K, and that  the district has a strong program  that it wishes to                                                               
continue.  She testified that  the district encourages support of                                                               
programs for  children around four  years of age, and  that KIBSD                                                               
has experienced growth in this demographic.                                                                                     
8:43:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. OLIVER  testified that KIBSD  has benefited from  grant funds                                                               
for broadband  internet, and it supports  any legislative efforts                                                               
to increase speeds to the benefit of all KIBSD schools.                                                                         
8:43:45 AM                                                                                                                    
JUDY  CARSTENS,  Board  Member,   Kodiak  Island  Borough  School                                                               
District Board of  Education, provided a synopsis  of the content                                                               
of the  AASB legislative fly-in, describing  breakout sessions in                                                               
which different  school board members  from across the  state met                                                               
and  discussed  issues such  as  HB  204  and the  Alaska  Marine                                                               
Highway.   Ms.  Carsten  testified that  AASB  members reached  a                                                               
clear  consensus  that  the  top  priority  negatively  impacting                                                               
students is  the lack  of ferry  service.   She read  a statement                                                               
that  the  AASB  coastal  community  members  drafted  as  public                                                               
testimony to the House Education Standing Committee, as follows:                                                                
     School  districts across  coastal  Alaska  rely upon  a                                                                    
     strong, reliable marine highway  system to connect them                                                                    
     to  the rest  of the  state.   The  state ferry  system                                                                    
     provides  a   cost-effective  and   sometimes  singular                                                                    
     option  of transportation  that  is  necessary for  the                                                                    
     transport  of  students,  materials,  and  food.    The                                                                    
     Alaska  Marine Highway  is an  essential transportation                                                                    
     infrastructure of the state.                                                                                               
MS. CARSTEN  also brought forward concerns  from communities that                                                               
the lack of groceries due  to reduced or eliminated ferry service                                                               
is  causing   discipline  problems  among  students   within  the                                                               
8:46:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON mentioned  the Alaska  Reads Act  [SB 6],                                                               
the  proposed legislation  requested by  the governor,  and asked                                                               
whether KIBSD had read the  legislation and could offer testimony                                                               
or critique of it.                                                                                                              
8:47:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. OLIVER  indicated that after  preliminary analysis,  KIBSD is                                                               
excited  that  the  proposed  legislation  includes  support  and                                                               
opportunities  for  funding  for  pre-K.   She  stated  that  the                                                               
district   shares  the   goals  prioritizing   literacy  ensuring                                                               
students'  ability to  read by  the third  grade.   She testified                                                               
that  the  borough has  several  questions  for clarification  on                                                               
several areas  of the legislation.   She cited specific  areas of                                                               
concern as  the reporting requirements  burden on  districts, the                                                               
ranking and prioritization of individual  schools, and a question                                                               
regarding the extent of local control over the program.                                                                         
8:48:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS urged  the Cordova  City School  District                                                               
(CCSD)  to  make  sure  its  individuals'  voices  or  collective                                                               
district  voice is  heard at  opportunities for  public testimony                                                               
regarding SB 6.                                                                                                                 
8:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  recommended  that  Ms.  Carstens  submit  the                                                               
written statement  regarding impacts of reduced  ferry service to                                                               
the House Transportation  Standing Committee - of which  she is a                                                               
member -  to inform  the committee on  additional impacts  of the                                                               
cuts to services.                                                                                                               
8:50:44 AM                                                                                                                    
DEBRA ADAMS,  Teacher, Cordova City School  District, stated that                                                               
she has  been a teacher in  Cordova since 1983.   She highlighted                                                               
one  of  many   major  accomplishments  of  CCSD;   it  held  the                                                               
distinction of  the only school  in Alaska to have  received this                                                               
year's  AP (Advanced  Placement)  CollegeBoard Honor  Roll.   She                                                               
continued by  noting two  areas of concern  for the  district and                                                               
students.    The first  is  the  tremendous  impact of  no  ferry                                                               
service to  Cordova.  She  stated that Cordova is  scheduled with                                                               
no ferry service from October  [2019] to May [2020], and students                                                               
are challenged  to participate in  activities such as  sports and                                                               
academic   competitions,  and   the  community   is  experiencing                                                               
shortages   of  fresh   produce   and  other   groceries.     She                                                               
acknowledged that  the community  has rallied to  support student                                                               
activities; however,  it cannot sustainably continue  to rally in                                                               
future years.                                                                                                                   
MS.  ADAMS continued  with the  second area  of concern,  that of                                                               
teacher  retention in  Cordova  and throughout  the  state.   She                                                               
explained  that  Alaska  provides  no incentive  to  attract  and                                                               
retain teachers without  programs such as defined  benefits.  She                                                               
went on to  describe her fear that a colleague,  whom she admires                                                               
as brilliant,  and whom she  predicts would contend for  award of                                                               
Teacher of the Year, has no incentive  to stay in the state.  She                                                               
expressed that  not only this  specific colleague  might probably                                                               
leave, but also other talented and devoted colleagues.                                                                          
8:53:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ADAMS  indicated a correlation between  teacher retention and                                                               
the  success of  the community  of Cordova.   She  explained that                                                               
when she  began teaching, her  predecessor had been a  teacher in                                                               
Cordova for  25 years.  She  noted that students go  on to become                                                               
neighbors, local  nurses, and  city council  members.   She urged                                                               
the  committee  to  consider possibilities  that  would  increase                                                               
teacher retention, such as defined benefits.                                                                                    
8:54:11 AM                                                                                                                    
PETE  HOEPHNER,  Board  Member,  Cordova  City  School  District,                                                               
stated that  he has attended  legislative hearings in  Juneau for                                                               
several years,  and the deficit  spending, or flat  funding, over                                                               
the last seven  years is "unbelievable" and  "inconceivable."  He                                                               
cited that over  the last ten years, the  base student allocation                                                               
(BSA) has  increased by  8.7 percent, and  during that  same time                                                               
period, the  Anchorage consumer price  index (CPI)  has increased                                                               
by 27  percent and health  insurance costs have increased  by 326                                                               
percent.  Mr.  Hoephner drew the analogy that  previous cuts have                                                               
been "through the  muscle" and subsequent cuts have  gone "to the                                                               
bone and beyond."                                                                                                               
MR.  HOEPHNER described  the current  educational environment  in                                                               
Alaska as  one where teachers  have no retirement plans,  and the                                                               
state is  losing population.   He recalled  the testimony  of Ms.                                                               
Adams, that  the children educated  in communities in  Alaska are                                                               
the  future citizens  and public  servants of  those communities.                                                               
He asked the legislature to consider  what it wants the future of                                                               
Alaska to look  like when weighing its decisions,  and he advised                                                               
that for growth  to occur, education must be funded.   He went on                                                               
to suggest  that the legislature scrutinize  appropriated dollars                                                               
that fund the  actual classroom; of a $15,000  to $18,000 student                                                               
allocation,  retirement and  health  care costs  may reduce  that                                                               
amount by  $6,000 to $7,000 in  the actual classroom.   He stated                                                               
that classroom dollars are fewer and fewer every year.                                                                          
8:56:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    JOHNSON   concurred    with   Mr.    Hoephner's                                                               
recommendation to scrutinize actual  dollars that fund the actual                                                               
classroom.   She suggested that  health care in particular  is an                                                               
"overwhelming"  burden  across  many  sectors.    She  asked  Mr.                                                               
Hoephner to provide any suggestions for solutions.                                                                              
8:57:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HOEPHNER elucidated  that there are several  ideas, the first                                                               
of  which is  additional revenue.   He  stated that  education in                                                               
Alaska  needs  stable  funding, and  the  legislature's  role  in                                                               
education is to increase revenues,  and his purpose in testifying                                                               
as  a school  board member  before  the committee  is to  request                                                               
additional funding for education.   He indicated that budget cuts                                                               
and flat funding  have been in place  since 2014; kindergarteners                                                               
then are now in the eighth grade.                                                                                               
8:58:43 AM                                                                                                                    
PRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY agreed with  Ms. Adams' testimony regarding                                                               
the  importance of  teacher retention,  and  the positive  impact                                                               
teacher  retention has  on communities.    She recalled  positive                                                               
interactions with  teachers that helped  to shape her  life path.                                                               
She  asked, in  addition  to new  revenue  streams and  examining                                                               
defined benefits,  what other  types of  support Ms.  Adams would                                                               
recommend to positively impact teacher retention.                                                                               
8:59:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ADAMS  answered  that  she would  need  additional  time  to                                                               
carefully  consider  the question,  and  perhaps  a program  that                                                               
provides financial  advisors to teachers might  positively impact                                                               
teacher retention.   She explained that teachers,  while they are                                                               
trained  in  their  field,  are  not  trained  in  investing  and                                                               
retirement planning, and that  offering professional expertise in                                                               
personal financial management would be valuable.                                                                                
9:02:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HOEPHNER commented that he  has participated in teacher union                                                               
contract negotiations for  several years.  He  suggested that the                                                               
current  climate of  fiscal  uncertainty has  led  to CCSD  being                                                               
required  to take  such measures  as  delaying implementation  of                                                               
negotiations for up to  a year, and - as when  the ferry was cut-                                                               
it  was required  to come  up with  an additional  $150,000.   He                                                               
suggested   that    current   contracts   are,    in   actuality,                                                               
incentivizing  teachers to  leave after  five years,  due to  the                                                               
401k program.   He  indicated that one  teacher, Ben  Walker, has                                                               
left the state.  He pointed  out that "older teachers" have taken                                                               
a cut in  pay to contribute to newer teacher  retention, but that                                                               
under the  current program,  teacher pay is  reduced by  $100 per                                                               
month  - which  CCSD matches  - and  teachers will  not see  that                                                               
money for 20  years.  He noted  that CCSD was not able  to hire a                                                               
PE teacher this year.                                                                                                           
9:04:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  noted that  a  change  to defined  benefits  for                                                               
teachers occurred in 2006 to  a defined contribution system.  She                                                               
stated  that  teachers   in  Alaska  not  only  do   not  have  a                                                               
supplementary  benefits  system, they  also  do  not qualify  for                                                               
Social Security benefits.  She  pointed out that private industry                                                               
offers  programs such  as  401k in  addition  to Social  Security                                                               
Benefits; however, Alaska's schools do not.                                                                                     
9:05:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  thanked Ms.  Adams for her  long teaching                                                               
career  and  noted  that  he  still  interacts  with  his  former                                                               
teachers  in   his  home  district.     He  suggested   that  the                                                               
contribution  which  funds  Public  Employees  Retirement  System                                                               
(PERS)  and Teacher  Retirement System  (TRS), when  scrutinizing                                                               
dollars into the  classroom out of the BSA,  should be considered                                                               
classroom  dollars   because  it  is  the   "feedstock"  for  the                                                               
teachers.   He  noted that  in Fairbanks,  teachers negotiated  a                                                               
403(b) program.   He  noted that  Tier 3  staff are  permitted to                                                               
cash in their  sick leave and deposit that  into their retirement                                                               
plans.   He noted that  previous employees  were able to  cash in                                                               
sick leave,  and Tier 3  and Tier 4  employees have or  will have                                                               
lost any unused sick leave at  the time of retirement.  He stated                                                               
that  pay  and  benefits  is  in fact  the  incentive  to  retain                                                               
teachers  and  should   be  viewed  as  actual   dollars  to  the                                                               
classroom.    He  commended  CCSD  for  its  efforts  in  teacher                                                               
retention through  contract negotiations  and expressed  his hope                                                               
that  other districts  look to  CCSD  as an  example for  teacher                                                               
retention.  He concluded that  he hopes that the legislature will                                                               
help achieve fiscal stability for education going forward.                                                                      
9:07:52 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD   LEE,   Interim   Superintendent,   Kashunamiut   School                                                               
District,   informed  the   committee  that   Kashunamiat  School                                                               
District  is  in  the  process of  dealing  with  some  "extreme"                                                               
financial  issues  that have  persisted  from  the past,  and  is                                                               
seeking grants funding and to  identify future funding needs.  He                                                               
noted  that  one  difficulty  facing   the  district  is  finding                                                               
teachers who will stay in the  rural communities more than a year                                                               
or two.  He noted that  rural Alaska cannot compete with Lower-48                                                               
districts,  and,  previously,  the   allure  of  Alaska  included                                                               
salaries that were  a little bit higher than those  in the Lower-                                                               
9:10:13 AM                                                                                                                    
KAY  ANDREWS,  President,  Southwest Region  Schools,  reiterated                                                               
previous  witnesses'   testimony  on  teacher  retention.     She                                                               
expressed  gratitude  to  legislators  for  meeting  with  school                                                               
districts  and for  working  on  behalf of  the  districts.   She                                                               
indicated that  Southwest Region Schools (SRS)  intends to review                                                               
and provide  written comment and position  statements on proposed                                                               
education legislation.   She noted that SRS has  concern with the                                                               
Alaska Reads Act, particularly the  assessment requirements.  She                                                               
explained  that  weekly  Individualized Education  Program  (IEP)                                                               
assessment  is  not  realistic.     She  explained  that  reading                                                               
specialists require a mastery, and  postulated that at a regional                                                               
job  fair,   one  might  encounter  one   single  master  reading                                                               
specialist;  and under  SB 6,  the district  would require  eight                                                               
specialists.  She also highlighted  concerns about the curriculum                                                               
and the impact on existing pre-K  programs across the state.  She                                                               
stated  that she  is a  strong  supporter of  pre-K programs  and                                                               
speculated that  SB 6 would  not be  necessary if a  robust pre-K                                                               
program  had  been  in  place  statewide.    She  encouraged  the                                                               
development of such a program.                                                                                                  
9:13:14 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDREWS continued  by noting that, in the  unlikely case that                                                               
the district was  able to recruit and hire  the necessary reading                                                               
specialists, her community has a  critical housing shortage.  She                                                               
explained  that  routine  maintenance  of  facilities,  which  is                                                               
compounded by extreme weather, is  very costly and unpredictable,                                                               
causing difficulty in  planning for those costs.   She noted that                                                               
only  30 percent  of students  are proficient  in reading,  which                                                               
indicated that  seven out  of ten students  would be  required to                                                               
report under the proposed legislation.   She indicated that other                                                               
programs  would  suffer  from   the  requirements,  resulting  in                                                               
schools  becoming  reading-only  schools.   She  noted  that  SRS                                                               
teachers are  currently managing  multiple grade levels,  and for                                                               
them to become  reading specialists is not realistic.   She noted                                                               
that the  shortage of teachers is  nationwide.  She said  she was                                                               
encouraged  by   the  dialogue  surrounding   teacher  retention,                                                               
particularly  the University  of Alaska,  Anchorage Institute  of                                                               
Social  and  Economic  Research  (ISER)  study.    She  suggested                                                               
examining  what is  being done  to  retain teachers,  such as  by                                                               
conducting exit interviews of departing staff.                                                                                  
9:17:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  encouraged Ms. Andrews to  take advantage                                                               
of opportunities for public testimony  on SB 6, whether on behalf                                                               
of herself  or on  behalf of her  professional organization.   He                                                               
asked Ms. Andrews whether SRS conducts exit interviews.                                                                         
MS.  ANDREWS  indicated   that  SRS  does  conduct   them.    She                                                               
recommended  that  the  exit interview  process  be  examined  by                                                               
experts to  ensure that the  proper questions are being  asked to                                                               
obtain the desired data.                                                                                                        
9:18:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  stated that  the Alaska Reads  Act is  large &                                                               
complex, and  clarified that  the intent of  SB 6  as implemented                                                               
would  be universal  pre-K.   She  noted that  SB 6  is still  in                                                               
development  in the  Senate.   She  encouraged Ms.  Andrews -  as                                                               
Representative  Hopkins   suggested  -   to  take   advantage  of                                                               
opportunities for public testimony on SB 6.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked Ms. Andrews  which communities are a part                                                               
of her district.                                                                                                                
MS.  ANDREWS   noted  that  the  district   includes  schools  in                                                               
Dillingham,   Togiak,  Twin   Hills,  New   Stoyahok,  Manokotak,                                                               
Aleknagik,  Clark's  Point,  and   Ekwok  -  communities  in  the                                                               
Dillingham census area.                                                                                                         
9:20:10 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN ATCHAK,  Board Member, Kashunamiut School  District, related                                                               
a  success   story  wherein  approximately   25  years   ago,  he                                                               
encountered  a small  child and  posed a  question in  his Native                                                               
language, "Do you need help?"   He reflected on his dismay at the                                                               
child not having  understood this phrase in  his Native language.                                                               
He noted  that in  the time  since, more  and more  children have                                                               
become fluent  in their  Native language as  a result  of foreign                                                               
language  immersion programs.   There  are currently  programs in                                                               
kindergarten  and  first,  second,  and third  grades,  with  two                                                               
highly qualified  teachers fluent  in Yupik.   He noted  that the                                                               
students  are "taking  it  home" and  teaching  their parents  to                                                               
understand and speak Yupik.                                                                                                     
9:25:10 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATCHAK went on the  explain that the immersion programs teach                                                               
two ways  of thinking,  which helps develop  students.   He noted                                                               
that  the  district  is  focused   on  raising  test  scores  and                                                               
expanding the immersion program into additional grade levels.                                                                   
9:26:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  agreed  that  second  language  programs  for                                                               
students are critical to brain development.                                                                                     
9:28:40 AM                                                                                                                    
ETHAN   SUNDOWN,  Student,   Lower  Kuskokwim   School  District,                                                               
recounted the  arrest of now-former Bethel  school [principal] in                                                               
December 2019, by  the Federal Bureau of  Investigation FBI Child                                                               
Exploitation Task Force  on serious and heinous  charges of child                                                               
pornography.  He  emphasized that HB 181 would  help students and                                                               
members of the  community to deal with the  ramifications of this                                                               
serious  and unexpected  behavior from  a trusted  educator.   He                                                               
noted  that  students in  Bethel  had  recently felt  a  credible                                                               
threat of a possible school shooting,  and that the memory of the                                                               
1997  shooting at  Bethel school  frightened  students enough  to                                                               
stay home from school.  He  noted that some parents in Bethel are                                                               
still  recovering   emotionally  from  the  1997   Bethel  school                                                               
shooting.  He spoke in strong support of HB 181.                                                                                
9:31:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SUNDOWN   explained  that  his   family  is  a   strong  and                                                               
emotionally supportive unit.  He  suggested that not all students                                                               
have the  support of their  families, and that  HB 181 -  if done                                                               
right -  would have  an amazing  impact on  the mental  health of                                                               
students.  He encouraged that  even people who have the privilege                                                               
of  a  supportive  environment  would  benefit  from  HB  181  by                                                               
learning peer support strategies and mechanisms.                                                                                
9:32:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  addressed Mr. Sundown to  ensure his awareness                                                               
that Representative Zulkosky was in  seventh grade at the time of                                                               
the 1997  school shooting.   She noted  that the  Bethel shooting                                                               
happened before  the 1999  Columbine High  School Massacre.   She                                                               
noted the exigency to resolve  House Finance subcommittee matters                                                               
so that the legislature may address legislation such as HB 181.                                                                 
9:34:28 AM                                                                                                                    
BART  MWAREY,  Superintendent,  Hydaburg  City  School  District,                                                               
shared that he is a  second-generation educator and has worked at                                                               
several sites around  the state.  He explained  that the Hydaburg                                                               
School  District is  overwhelmed with  mental health  issues that                                                               
teachers and counselors are ill-equipped  to handle, and he noted                                                               
that technology - cell phones  in particular - contributes to the                                                               
problems.    Mr.  Mwarey  explained  that  their  district  needs                                                               
qualified  therapists, as  many students  in Hydaburg  and beyond                                                               
lack parental support.  He stated his support for HB 181.                                                                       
MR. MWAREY addressed concerns regarding  SB 6.  He explained that                                                               
Hydaburg  City   School  District  has  recently   implemented  a                                                               
language  immersion program  and  is concerned  about testing  of                                                               
preschoolers enrolled  in the  program and  how progress  will be                                                               
measured.  He  also expressed concern with  the retention portion                                                               
of SB 6.  He explained  that the community of Hydaburg, including                                                               
the   tribe,  city,   corporation,   and   school,  assemble   to                                                               
collectively  make decisions  regarding  the labor  needs in  the                                                               
community.   He went on to  explain that this "united  front" has                                                               
resulted  in students  actively engaging  in hands  on, community                                                               
service activities  including assisting  in building  housing for                                                               
teachers, and  many of the  students have responded well  to this                                                               
teaching method.   He emphasized  that he is hopeful  that future                                                               
funding will  include provisions for local  control and expressed                                                               
concern that  SB 6  is a  top-down plan  that would  present many                                                               
challenges to implementation.                                                                                                   
9:40:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS thanked  the  witness  and applauded  the                                                               
united  community  in addressing  its  needs  and encouraged  Mr.                                                               
Mwarey to  take advantage of  opportunities for  public testimony                                                               
on  SB 6,  whether  on behalf  of  himself or  on  behalf of  his                                                               
professional organization.                                                                                                      
9:41:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY opened public testimony.                                                                                         
9:41:46 AM                                                                                                                    
Patrick  Williams, Teacher,  Bethel Regional  High School,  Lower                                                               
Kuskokwim School  District, introduced  himself to  the committee                                                               
as a  teacher, married to a  science teacher who was  part of the                                                               
grow-your-own program  in LKSD.   He testified that he  and other                                                               
teachers wish very much to stay  in the communities in which they                                                               
are   teaching;  however,   the  benefits   structure  encourages                                                               
teachers  to leave  after five  years of  service.   He suggested                                                               
that  there   is  a  disparity   between  teachers   with  better                                                               
retirement plans  and those  who have  less-desirable plans.   He                                                               
described the two  as the "haves" and "have-nots."   He concluded                                                               
that  should the  district  offer a  better  retirement plan,  it                                                               
would allow  for teachers  such as himself,  his wife,  and other                                                               
colleagues  to  stay in  the  communities  long term,  and  would                                                               
provide for a more meaningful teaching experience.                                                                              
9:46:36 AM                                                                                                                    
GREGORY  SLATS,   Board  Member,  Kashunamiut   School  District,                                                               
addressed the  committee with two  concerns facing  the district:                                                               
teacher shortage and the risks  involved in distance learning for                                                               
students.   He  noted that  the district  has sufficient  teacher                                                               
aides, and  in order  to cut costs,  the district  is considering                                                               
eliminating some.   He  explained that  teachers who  have worked                                                               
for decades in the district  are retiring and those positions are                                                               
extremely difficult  to fill.   He  noted that  distance learning                                                               
can be  negatively impacted by unstable  Internet connections and                                                               
a  lack  of  interpersonal interaction  between  instructors  and                                                               
students in a virtual classroom environment.                                                                                    
9:49:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  asked  Mr.  Slats to  confirm  that  his                                                               
district  has enough  teacher  aides,  as it  is  a very  unusual                                                               
circumstance for districts in Alaska.                                                                                           
MR. SLATS confirmed.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  asked  Mr.  Slats if  his  district  had                                                               
considered any programs to qualify  aides working in the district                                                               
as teachers.                                                                                                                    
MR.  SLATS indicated  that the  district  is examining  available                                                               
resources to train aides to become teachers.                                                                                    
9:51:01 AM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM SPROTT,  Superintendent, Yakutat School  District, opened                                                               
his testimony  by explaining  that he  left retirement  status to                                                               
take on  the role  as superintendent  of Yakutat  School District                                                               
(YSD).    He explained  that  YSD  has had  persistent  financial                                                               
difficulties and has  sustained cuts to teachers  and programs to                                                               
try to bring  the district to operating within budget.   He noted                                                               
that this school year, YSD has  realized a 25 percent increase in                                                               
enrollment, which  he attributed  to local  economic growth.   He                                                               
reported that math  and English language arts  proficiency in the                                                               
district are  at 40 percent or  more.  Mr. Sprott  testified that                                                               
YSD's top strategic  goal is to increase  language arts literacy,                                                               
and that the introduction of SB  6 comes at a very opportune time                                                               
for  the  district.    He  pointed  out  concerns  including  the                                                               
retention piece  of the  bill and  suggested that  this component                                                               
should remain under  local control.  He  concluded by encouraging                                                               
that funding  for local  districts accompany  the passage  of the                                                               
9:54:01 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPROTT  continued  that  YSD  has  been  granted  funds  for                                                               
Internet  access  and  awarded  a  "huge"  grant  for  technology                                                               
upgrades to a  computer lab.  He indicated  that current internet                                                               
speeds  are too  slow to  fully support  program activities.   He                                                               
explained that  YSD is building  infrastructure and  awaiting the                                                               
increased Internet  speeds to deploy  use of the  new technology.                                                               
Mr.  Sprott  requested  any advocacy  that  the  legislature  may                                                               
provide for Internet infrastructure improvements.                                                                               
9:54:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPROTT  suggested that increased literacy  leads to increased                                                               
graduation rates.  He noted  that graduation rates have increased                                                               
from 66 percent to 74 percent.                                                                                                  
9:55:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  encouraged Mr.  Sprott to  take advantage                                                               
of opportunities  for public testimony  on the Alaska  Reads Act,                                                               
whether on  behalf of  himself or on  behalf of  his professional                                                               
9:55:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS asked  whether  YSD  has implemented  any                                                               
social/emotional learning programs.                                                                                             
9:56:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPROTT  indicated that, after  literacy, the top  priority is                                                               
social/emotional learning.   Mr. Sprott shared  that YSD received                                                               
a  grant that  was sufficient  to cover  the cost  of the  entire                                                               
staff -  including paraprofessionals - to  attend a certification                                                               
program in September [of 2019].   He added that YSD is also using                                                               
"early-outs,"  in-service   days,  trauma-engaged   schools,  and                                                               
working  with the  community, with  aid from  the Steps  Grant to                                                               
bolster the social/emotional curriculum.                                                                                        
9:57:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND requested explanation of early-outs.                                                                          
MR. SPROTT indicated that YSD  dismisses students one hour early,                                                               
one  day  per  week  for  staff  to  engage  in  social/emotional                                                               
learning   programs  and   training  and   take  care   of  other                                                               
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked how  many students  are enrolled  at the                                                               
MR.  SPROTT answered  that total  enrollment was  103 as  of last                                                               
week, and YSD had budgeted for 83 students.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR   DRUMMOND   inquired   what  in   the   local   economy                                                               
precipitated the increase in enrollment.                                                                                        
9:58:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPROTT indicated  that a  local  logging company  and a  new                                                               
clinic  that  is  under  construction  have  contributed  to  the                                                               
growth.  He added that, in  light of the new clinic, the district                                                               
is working with high schoolers  to consider health-related career                                                               
paths.   He  indicated that  Yakutat is  a unique  community, and                                                               
that teacher retention is not a problem.                                                                                        
10:00:46 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:00 a.m.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2_8_20 MarsettGood things AASB (3).pdf HEDC 2/10/2020 8:00:00 AM