Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

03/07/2022 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 7, 2022                                                                                          
                           8:04 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky (via teleconference)                                                                            
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Mike Prax (via teleconference)                                                                                   
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
Representative Ronald Gillham                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 173                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to state  education policy; relating  to school                                                               
climate and  connectedness; establishing  the School  Climate and                                                               
School Connectedness Improvement Committee;  and providing for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 335                                                                                                              
"An Act providing that Rampart School is located within the                                                                     
Yukon-Koyukuk School District regional educational attendance                                                                   
area; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 173                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SCHOOL CLIMATE & CONNECTEDNESS                                                                                     
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TARR                                                                                              
04/14/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/14/21       (H)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
05/07/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
05/07/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
05/07/21       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/07/22       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
BILL: HB 335                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RAMPART SCHOOL: YUKON-KOYUKUK DISTRICT                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
02/16/22       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/16/22       (H)       EDC                                                                                                    
03/07/22       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, presented the proposed CS                                                              
for HB 173, Version G.                                                                                                          
DAVID SONG, Staff                                                                                                               
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an explanation of changes in the                                                                
proposed CS for HB 173, Version G, on behalf of Representative                                                                  
Tarr, prime sponsor.                                                                                                            
NORM WOOTEN, Director of Advocacy                                                                                               
Association of Alaska School Boards                                                                                             
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 173, Version G.                                                               
KATIE BOTZ, representing self                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 173, Version G.                                                               
HEIDI TESHNER, Acting Deputy Commissioner                                                                                       
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 335 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                               
House Rules by request of the governor.                                                                                         
KERRY BOYD, Superintendent                                                                                                      
Yukon-Koyukuk School District                                                                                                   
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 335.                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:04:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HARRIET DRUMMOND  called the  House Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  8:04 a.m.  Representatives Cronk,                                                               
Gillham, Hopkins,  Story, and Drummond  were present at  the call                                                               
to  order.   Representatives  Zulkosky and  Prax  arrived as  the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
             HB 173-SCHOOL CLIMATE & CONNECTEDNESS                                                                          
8:05:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  that  the first  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 173,  "An Act relating to state education                                                               
policy;   relating   to   school   climate   and   connectedness;                                                               
establishing   the  School   Climate  and   School  Connectedness                                                               
Improvement Committee; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
8:05:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  moved to adopt the  proposed committee substitute                                                               
(CS)  for  HB  173,  Version 32-LS0727\G,  Marx,  1/27/22,  as  a                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  G  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
8:05:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor, presented the proposed CS for  HB 173, [Version G].  She                                                               
shared  that  before  serving  in the  legislature,  she  was  an                                                               
educator for  two-plus decades.   She  expressed her  interest in                                                               
education policy  and her belief that  unfunded mandates pressure                                                               
districts to  implement new policies  at their own expense.   She                                                               
voiced  her commitment  to  do  things "the  right  way" and  not                                                               
implement  policies   that  are   "pushed  upon"   educators  and                                                               
administrators.    While  attending  a workshop  offered  by  the                                                               
Council  of  State  Governments,  she stated  she  learned  about                                                               
research  on the  "school-to-prison  pipeline."   Research  shows                                                               
that disciplinary  policies used in  middle and high  schools can                                                               
put students on the path to  be in the juvenile justice and adult                                                               
justice prison  systems.  She  stated her belief that  this track                                                               
is costly, with negative outcomes.   In the workshop she began to                                                               
learn  about  restorative  practices and  alternative  discipline                                                               
policies.   She stated she  investigated the situation  in Alaska                                                               
and found concerning articles in  the Anchorage Daily News on the                                                             
rates of suspension and expulsion in  schools.  In the process of                                                               
her  investigation,  she  stated  that she  visited  a  colleague                                                               
working  on the  same  policies  in another  state.   During  her                                                               
visit, she  learned that a  foundational piece to  school climate                                                               
and  connectiveness is  creating a  welcoming school  environment                                                               
for all  students.   To build this  environment, she  referred to                                                               
the list  of that which may  be included in the  district's plan,                                                               
found on  page 3, [line  27, through page 4,  line 5] of  HB 173,                                                               
Version G, which read as follows:                                                                                               
          (c) A plan may incorporate use of                                                                                     
               (1) social and emotional learning;                                                                               
               (2)   trauma-informed  and   healing-centered                                                                    
               (3)  instruction in  cultural competence  and                                                                    
     alignment with indigenous values;                                                                                          
               (4)   multi-tiered  support   for  behavioral                                                                    
     intervention, including restorative  practices that are                                                                    
     nonshaming,  nonpunitive, and  effective in  addressing                                                                    
     conflict and repairing relationships;                                                                                      
               (5) methods for  reducing racial disparities,                                                                    
     disproportionate  behavior  responses, and  suspensions                                                                    
     or expulsions;                                                                                                             
               (6) culturally relevant  practices adapted to                                                                    
     the local district.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  explained  that  in  the  interest  of  not                                                               
creating   unfunded  mandates   and  to   support  teachers   and                                                               
administrators, she  began hosting a Restorative  Justice Summit.                                                               
She stated  that last December she  hosted the sixth summit.   In                                                               
the process of  hosting the summits over the past  six years, she                                                               
stated  that she  has worked  with  at least  600 educators  from                                                               
diverse communities across Alaska.   She explained that the input                                                               
of these educators  helped create the proposed  legislation.  She                                                               
stated  she follows  the [House  Education Standing  Committee's]                                                               
announcements; while the  concepts in HB 173, Version  G, are not                                                               
new  to  committee  members,  the   legislation  would  create  a                                                               
comprehensive  approach.   She distributed  to  the committee  an                                                               
Anchorage  Daily News  article  from October  6, [2021],  titled,                                                             
"Anchorage  Schools   See  Rise  in  Physical   Altercations  and                                                               
Behavioral  Issues."    The  article  conveyed  that  there  were                                                               
"outbursts" when  students returned to  school in the fall.   She                                                               
stated that she  attended a community council  meeting and shared                                                               
the concepts of the Restorative  Justice Summit.  She stated that                                                               
in the meeting,  a principal from the  Airport Heights Elementary                                                               
School shared  that staff at the  school had been trained  on the                                                               
use  of behavioral-issue  intervention,  and the  school had  not                                                               
experienced  the behavior  problems described  in other  schools.                                                               
She  cited  that  this,  along  with  other  data,  substantiates                                                               
[school  climate and  connectedness] policies.   She  argued that                                                               
reducing  the  time  students are  absent  from  school  promotes                                                               
inclusion, and the  students are more likely to stay  on task and                                                               
learn.    She  stated  the  changes in  [Version  G]  align  with                                                               
stakeholder  groups  and  input  from  people  across  the  state                                                               
interested in the topic.                                                                                                        
8:13:04 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  SONG,  Staff,  Representative  Geran  Tarr,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tarr,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB 173,  paraphrased the explanation  of changes in  the proposed                                                               
CS, Version G  [included in the committee packet],  which read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Following  feedback  from educators  and  stakeholders,                                                                    
     there are several changes in this version of HB 173:                                                                       
       Section 3  (b): The membership of  the School Climate                                                                    
     and  School  Connectedness   Improvement  Committee  is                                                                    
     changed as follows:                                                                                                        
     o  the   modifier  "current"   has  been   removed  for                                                                    
     grammatical  clarity (it  is  implied that  non-retired                                                                    
     members are currently employed in their field).                                                                            
     o  School principals  are included  as members  of this                                                                    
     o School board members are  included as members of this                                                                    
     o Student  representatives are  included as  members of                                                                    
     this committee.                                                                                                            
     o Representatives from  Alaska Native organizations (as                                                                    
     defined by 25 USC 5304 and  43 USC 1601) o Grade levels                                                                    
     for  teachers  have  been changed  from  K-12  to  pre-                                                                    
MR.  SONG  noted  information missing  from  the  document  which                                                               
proposes  a new  paragraph under  subsection (c),  which read  as                                                               
               (6)  allows  for  this committee  to  consult                                                                    
     with  a nonprofit  organization  in an  unpaid way,  so                                                                    
     there is no fiscal impact.                                                                                                 
MR. SONG  paraphrased from the  remainder of the  document, which                                                               
read as follows:                                                                                                                
      Section 4 (c): New subsection (6) has been added to                                                                       
      guide districts' plans to improve school climate and                                                                      
     school connectedness. It reads as follows:                                                                                 
      o A plan may incorporate use of "culturally relevant                                                                      
     practices adapted to the local district."                                                                                  
        Sections 5-7: All references to dates are moved                                                                         
     forward by one year:                                                                                                       
      Section 5: Plan submission date moved to January 1,                                                                       
       Section 6: Repeal date changed to July 1, 2024.                                                                          
       Section 7: Effective date changed to July 1, 2022.                                                                       
8:15:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  explained  that  the  [School  Climate  and                                                               
School  Connectedness Improvement  Committee] would  be comprised                                                               
of individuals  willing to volunteer  their time.   The committee                                                               
would  represent  52  school  districts  and  self-organize  into                                                               
smaller subgroups.   She stated  that the concepts taught  in the                                                               
Restorative Justice Summit do not  necessitate a "massive report"                                                               
to prescribe mandates.  Rather,  implementation of school climate                                                               
and connectedness concepts involve  taking inventory of [a school                                                               
district's] resources  and capacities.  Instead  of starting with                                                               
"you must  do this,"  she stated  that step one  is to  learn the                                                               
availability of  resources needed  in the  school district.   She                                                               
cited that [a  school] may need a councilor or  social worker for                                                               
interventions  on the  social and  emotional learning  component,                                                               
but due  to budget  cuts, this  resource is  not available.   She                                                               
stated that the  idea is to create a plan  by cataloging need and                                                               
availability  and  then  determine  how  to  implement  the  plan                                                               
without creating  an unfunded mandate.   She continued  that step                                                               
two  would   be  considered  after  plans   and  evaluations  are                                                               
collected.   She suggested  that this  is already  happening, but                                                               
[the proposed legislation] would "package" the process.                                                                         
8:18:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS thanked the  bill sponsor for bringing the                                                               
legislation forward.   He commented that the  [School Climate and                                                               
School  Connectedness Improvement  Committee]  represents a  very                                                               
large group.   In  consideration of  the varying  backgrounds and                                                               
sizes  of  districts and  schools,  he  questioned whether  there                                                               
would  be   a  requirement  that  committee   members  come  from                                                               
dispersed regions.                                                                                                              
8:19:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR,  in  response,   pointed  to  language  [in                                                               
Section 3] of  Version G, which provides that  the governor shall                                                               
consider   geographic  representation.      She  also   indicated                                                               
subsequent  language which  provides  that  the committee  "shall                                                               
organize  regional and  subject-matter  subcommittees to  address                                                               
the specific needs" of the diverse individuals and communities.                                                                 
8:19:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK contended that  this type of program already                                                               
exists through [the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB)].                                                                
8:20:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  answered  in   agreement.    She  expressed                                                               
confidence that  AASB is interested  in collaborative work.   She                                                               
stated  that AASB  is  already conducting  a  school climate  and                                                               
connectiveness survey, and an AASB  representative is expected to                                                               
provide  invited testimony  during  the hearing.   She  expressed                                                               
hope  that,  through  a   partnership,  survey  information  will                                                               
translate into  policy recommendations.  In  reference to teacher                                                               
retention, she  stated that school climate  and connectiveness is                                                               
not just  about the  students but  also about  the administrators                                                               
and staff.  She acknowledged that  it takes work for everybody to                                                               
want to be present at school.                                                                                                   
8:20:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY articulated  her  belief that  the  climate of  a                                                               
school  makes   a  difference  for  students   to  feel  welcome,                                                               
comfortable, and  ready to learn.   She referred to  the language                                                               
on  page 2,  line 7,  "The  committee consists  of the  following                                                               
members appointed  by the governor".   She expressed  interest in                                                               
the  appointment process  by  the governor.    She also  inquired                                                               
about the  process between  the committee  and the  Department of                                                               
Education and Early Development (DEED).                                                                                         
8:21:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  answered  that  there are  two  methods  to                                                               
choose committee members.   One method is for  the legislature to                                                               
choose  members in  a joint  decision between  the House  and the                                                               
Senate.  The other option  is through the executive branch, under                                                               
DEED, and the governor would  appoint the committee members.  She                                                               
suggested  that  either  option   could  work,  but  because  the                                                               
committee is under DEED, appointments  are considered through the                                                               
executive branch.   She stated she  is a member of  the Statewide                                                               
Suicide Prevention  Council and has collaborated  with DEED while                                                               
working  on the  trauma-informed  school module.   She  explained                                                               
that,  regarding   the  proposed  legislation,  DEED's   role  is                                                               
administrative,  which includes  work on  the fiscal  note.   She                                                               
stated that  there is  not a specific  endorsement from  DEED for                                                               
Version  G, although  she surmised  that its  goal is  consistent                                                               
with the Alaska's  Education Challenge and aligns  with the goals                                                               
of the current [DEED] leadership.                                                                                               
8:23:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR,  in  response   to  a  follow-up  question,                                                               
expressed  hope   that  knowledge  of  the   school  climate  and                                                               
connectedness  committee  would spread  through  superintendents,                                                               
professional certification  organizations, union representatives,                                                               
and people  who have been involved.   She stated that  during the                                                               
first  legislative  hearing  on  HB 173,  Tom  Klaameyer  of  the                                                               
National  Education  Association  provided invited  testimony  in                                                               
support  of  the  bill.     She  noted  that  collaborations  and                                                               
announcements could be a source  of outreach to different groups.                                                               
She  stated her  belief that  a strong  commitment to  spread the                                                               
word  about   the  [School   Climate  and   School  Connectedness                                                               
Improvement   Committee]  will   reflect  in   quality  committee                                                               
members.  She  referenced a governor's task  force that published                                                               
a  press   release  to  recruit   the  public  by   providing  an                                                               
application link.   She  stated that  in rural  communities there                                                               
are  local  newspapers,  like  the  Nome  Nugget  or  the  Arctic                                                           
Sounder,   which   would   publish  announcements,   making   the                                                             
opportunity available to a diverse set of people.                                                                               
8:26:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   STORY   questioned   how  many   districts   currently                                                               
incorporate school  climate and connectedness, and  whether there                                                               
is  a requirement  of each  local  school district  to develop  a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  responded that  there  are  no mandates  or                                                               
policy  changes for  school  districts  without the  accompanying                                                               
resources.   She stated that  through discussions  with educators                                                               
participating  at   the  Restorative  Justice  Summits,   it  was                                                               
determined  the  preferred model  is  a  two-step process.    She                                                               
outlined that step  one is to create a plan,  and then, if school                                                               
districts  are  interested,  step  two  examines  the  plans  and                                                               
requirements for  implementation.  She expressed  excitement that                                                               
educators  have  learned  from DEED's  trauma-informed  education                                                               
[framework]  and   are  independently  adopting  some   of  these                                                               
practices.   Referencing  the Anchorage  Daily News  article from                                                             
October 6,  [2021], she stated  that it recorded  601 suspensions                                                               
in  schools  but  did  not mention  disciplinary  actions.    She                                                               
suggested  that  some schools  are  starting  to teach  emotional                                                               
regulation and self-management; citing  for example, instead of a                                                               
time-out  punishment,  a  student  is taught  to  recognize  that                                                               
he/she  may  be   out  of  control  or  angry   and,  to  prevent                                                               
altercations, can  self-select by  moving to  another room  to do                                                               
8:29:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR, in response  to a follow-up question, stated                                                               
that  AASB  conducts  ongoing school  climate  and  connectedness                                                               
surveys;  consequently,  educators  will  be  familiar  with  the                                                               
language.   She  stated  that Alaska  districts  and schools  are                                                               
diverse in  size and background  and require flexibility;  as the                                                               
language is  not prescriptive, the  legislation will  not mandate                                                               
districts and  schools to hire  researchers or contractors.   She                                                               
maintained  that the  role of  the  committee is  to support  the                                                               
districts and schools [through the process].                                                                                    
8:31:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY referred  to language  from page  3, line  24, "A                                                               
district shall  designate district representatives  to coordinate                                                               
with  the  committee  and  draft   the  district's  plan."    She                                                               
suggested that districts will  communicate individual efforts [by                                                               
means of a  representative] to the committee, and  this creates a                                                               
web of  support.  She  commented on  the broad approach  and that                                                               
she  believes coordination  between organizations  is productive.                                                               
She expressed  interest in knowing  how much  feedback individual                                                               
districts have already given.                                                                                                   
8:32:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR,   reiterating  that  the   requirement  for                                                               
districts'  participation is  specific  to what  is available  to                                                               
them,  answered   that  principals  from  all   Anchorage  School                                                               
Districts  attended the  Restorative Justice  Summit and  now the                                                               
districts' priorities  include trauma-informed and  mental health                                                               
and  wellness  policies.   She  opined  that this  validates  the                                                               
program.  She  stated that there is a letter  of support from the                                                               
North  Slope  Borough  School  District.    She  listed  multiple                                                               
representatives  from schools  that  have  attended the  summits,                                                               
including  Fairbanks, Anchorage,  Juneau,  Sitka, Homer,  Valdez,                                                               
North Slope  Borough, Chevak, Kotzebue,  and Bethel.   She stated                                                               
that from their feedback, she  has learned about the diversity of                                                               
Alaska school  districts.  In  response to a  follow-up question,                                                               
she stated that the plan submission  date could be flexible.  She                                                               
then surmised that  two years is long enough, and  if a school or                                                               
district  needs  an  extra  year,  the  legislation  provides  an                                                               
intervening year.                                                                                                               
8:36:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR,   in   response   to   a   question   from                                                               
Representative  Gillham,  stated   that  after  appointment,  the                                                               
members would  be on  the committee through  the process  of plan                                                               
submission.   She  referred to  the language  in Section  6, that                                                               
read, "Sections  1 and  3 - 5  of this Act  are repealed  July 1,                                                               
2024."  She stated after that date the committee does not exist.                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  referred to  the language on  page 3,  line 5,                                                               
"Committee  members  serve  without   compensation  and  are  not                                                               
entitled to per diem."                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR, in  response to  Co-Chair Drummond,  voiced                                                               
hope that  compensation will not be  an issue.  She  offered that                                                               
the fiscal  note provides  funding for  a contractor  to schedule                                                               
committee meetings,  keep notes,  and track  contact information.                                                               
She noted  that there has been  a great deal of  support, and she                                                               
stated her  belief that  there are  people who  would like  to be                                                               
part of the process, without  compensation.  She said that people                                                               
have already expressed interest in  being members of the proposed                                                               
8:38:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR,   in  response  to   Representative  Cronk,                                                               
answered that  the fiscal note  was prepared April 30,  2021, and                                                               
that there is  nothing new beyond this date.   She explained that                                                               
the fiscal  note of $23,000  is for  the two years  the committee                                                               
would be in existence.  She  explained that this is the estimated                                                               
cost for a contractor to  organize the [School Climate and School                                                               
Connectedness Improvement Committee].                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE   CRONK   referred   to  the   language   in   the                                                               
legislation, that  read, "that  the district  shall".   He stated                                                               
that, technically, this language  usually indicates a bigger cost                                                               
assumed by the districts.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  responded  that   this  was  a  concern  in                                                               
developing   the  legislation;   thus,   the   language  is   not                                                               
prescriptive  in terms  of expectation.   She  explained that  to                                                               
create  a  plan  together, the  district's  representative  would                                                               
participate in  limited consultations with the  committee and may                                                               
provide  answers  on  a  questionnaire.    She  stated  that  the                                                               
intention  of the  legislation  is to  be  "noninvasive" and  not                                                               
impose weekly meetings on "super-busy  teachers."  She stated her                                                               
belief that  smaller districts  could put  together a  plan after                                                               
participating in  a couple of  interviews and answering a  set of                                                               
questions.    She stated  that  bigger  districts may  need  more                                                               
coordination, however;  they may  already have people  working in                                                               
the social  and emotional  learning and  disciplinary components.                                                               
She  stated that  to minimize  the  impact on  the districts  and                                                               
schools, the  committee-supported process  would be  flexible and                                                               
8:41:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR, in  response  to a  question from  Co-Chair                                                               
Drummond, answered that the fiscal  note dated April 30, 2021, is                                                               
current.  She stated that the only  change in Version G has to do                                                               
with committee membership and consultation language.                                                                            
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  commented  that   there  might  be  available                                                               
funding from  DEED's COVID-19 relief  funds.  She  suggested that                                                               
the pandemic might  have had a serious impact  on behavior issues                                                               
in schools.                                                                                                                     
8:42:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX voiced  concern that once a  plan [created by                                                               
the committee and the district  representative] is [complete], it                                                               
would  be  prescriptive,  and  school  districts  would  have  to                                                               
implement the plan.                                                                                                             
8:42:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  responded that  the actual development  of a                                                               
plan  is  the  only  prescriptive  element.    She  recapped  her                                                               
aspirations to be mindful of  mandates.  She reiterated that step                                                               
two would  be implementation  of the plan,  and if  resources are                                                               
not available,  there would be  no expectation for  the districts                                                               
to put policies into place.   She stated that after two years, if                                                               
there are plan recommendations, that  would be the time to review                                                               
the budget  and see  what the  plan can  achieve.   She suggested                                                               
that  the process  generates a  roadmap.   She  stated that  some                                                               
community resources  could become  available.  Businesses  may be                                                               
interested in  policies that provide  people with soft  skills as                                                               
communication,  connection, and  leadership;  this  leads to  the                                                               
consideration of  school programs and  the type of  students they                                                               
produce.   She suggested that  there might be  private investors.                                                               
In  Anchorage,  for  example,   there  are  partnerships  between                                                               
schools and businesses that may  help with strategic investments.                                                               
She  stated  the  intention  is  not  for  [the  legislation]  to                                                               
presuppose solutions, but for the  plan to open the conversation,                                                               
whether   funding  comes   from   state   resources  or   private                                                               
8:45:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   PRAX,  for   clarification,   stated  that   the                                                               
committee would  develop the  program and  that would  be through                                                               
DEED.   The next  step would  be implementation  of the  plan, if                                                               
future legislatures so choose.                                                                                                  
8:45:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  answered in the affirmative.   She explained                                                               
that, on  or before January  1, 2024, the districts  would supply                                                               
the finished  plan to  the board of  education, the  chief clerk,                                                               
and the  senate secretary.   At that  time the  legislature would                                                               
consider implementation.   She stated  that some  districts might                                                               
relay  that they  have  resources in  place and  do  not need  to                                                               
implement  a plan.   In  response  to a  follow-up question,  she                                                               
stated that  there has been a  great deal of participation.   She                                                               
estimated that around 100 people  this year and around 100 people                                                               
last year signed up for  the annual [Restorative Justice Summit].                                                               
She stated  that this has been  a work in progress  over the last                                                               
few years,  and the input  of summit participants  helped develop                                                               
the two-step  process.  She restated  that step one is  to create                                                               
the  plan, and  step two  is to  consider resources  and possible                                                               
implementation  of the  plan.   She referenced  the example  that                                                               
some   schools  in   the  past   used   closets  for   behavioral                                                               
interventions,  as they  did not  have a  physical space  for the                                                               
seclusion and restraint policy.   She stated that the legislature                                                               
intervened  on  the  practice  and  the  resulting  [legislation]                                                               
required some  smaller districts  to build  a physical  space for                                                               
the seclusion  and restraint  policy, without  providing funding.                                                               
She  argued that  it is  easy  to think  of a  change in  policy,                                                               
without  thinking in  terms of  implementation.   She stated  the                                                               
goal with Version G is  to understand what districts need without                                                               
putting pressure on them.                                                                                                       
8:50:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND observed  that the  School Climate  and School                                                               
Connectedness  Improvement Committee  does not  appear to  have a                                                               
requirement  to  produce  a  plan  or  report,  but  there  is  a                                                               
requirement  on  school  districts.     Considering  the  current                                                               
[legislative] schedule,  she estimated that districts  would have                                                               
about 18 months  to complete a plan.  She  acknowledged that this                                                               
does  not leave  much  time  for the  committee,  in its  initial                                                               
phase,  to support  school districts  while each  school district                                                               
produces its own plan, on or before January of 2024.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE TARR answered that the  committee is big enough to                                                               
break  into  smaller  groups.    Each group  will  work  with  an                                                               
allotted  number   of  districts  to  help   create  standardized                                                               
questions.   The  committee members  serve a  supportive role  to                                                               
help minimize the  impact on the districts.   While the districts                                                               
would  be submitting  the plan,  the committee's  supportive role                                                               
helps  complete  the  plan.     She  expressed  the  belief  that                                                               
restricting  the  committee  to   an  advisory  role  gives  plan                                                               
ownership  to area  groups, so  they  feel they  are speaking  on                                                               
their own  behalf.   She suggested that  due to  time constraints                                                               
the   House  Education   Standing  Committee   should  move   the                                                               
legislation.  She expressed optimism  that the bill will pass and                                                               
observed  that the  outreach  will  take a  couple  months.   She                                                               
agreed on  the idea  of pushing  out plan  submission dates  by a                                                               
year, but  she stressed that the  dates must be relative,  so the                                                               
committee is repealed in the end.                                                                                               
8:54:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR,   in   response   to   a   question   from                                                               
Representative  Gillham,  explained  that [Version  G]  does  not                                                               
repeal  Section  2  because that  section  contains  language  on                                                               
trauma-informed policy.   She explained  that four years  ago the                                                               
Department  of Health  and Social  Services (DHSS)  and DEED  had                                                               
combined legislation  to inform education and  healthcare policy.                                                               
This resulted in a statute for  DHSS, but the language on trauma-                                                               
informed policy never become part of  a DEED statute.  She stated                                                               
that the  original intention  was that both  DHSS and  DEED would                                                               
have statutes including the language.                                                                                           
8:55:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND   expressed  her   concern  that   the  "early                                                               
development"  part of  DEED should  be kept  "front and  center."                                                               
She stated  that subsection (b) in  Section 2 of HB  173, Version                                                               
G, acknowledges this  and makes it a permanent  part of education                                                               
policy.    She  stated  her   opinion  that  this  piece  of  the                                                               
legislation should not be repealed.                                                                                             
8:56:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR answered  in  the affirmative.   She  stated                                                               
that  the  language becomes  part  of  the policy  directive  and                                                               
allows for prevention work.  In  addition, she said that DHHS has                                                               
access to federal funding due to the language.                                                                                  
8:57:04 AM                                                                                                                    
NORM WOOTEN,  Director of Advocacy, Association  of Alaska School                                                               
Boards,  offered  AASB's support  for  HB  173,  Version G.    To                                                               
address earlier questions stated  during the hearing, he detailed                                                               
that   school  districts   currently   receive  federal   funding                                                               
primarily  through Title  I and  Title  II of  the Every  Student                                                               
Succeeds Act  (ESSA).  To  receive federal funding  through ESSA,                                                               
school  districts are  required to  provide the  same information                                                               
that   is   already   conveyed  in   the   school   climate   and                                                               
connectiveness survey.   He surmised that the  process for school                                                               
districts to create  a plan to submit to the  committee would not                                                               
be onerous,  as most districts  are already  doing the work.   He                                                               
asserted  that  AASB  has long  supported  student  physical  and                                                               
mental health as a prerequisite  for student learning.  He stated                                                               
that AASB  has an  entire department,  the Alaska  Initiative for                                                               
Community Engagement,  working with school districts  toward this                                                               
goal.     The  methodology  is   to  connect   school  districts,                                                               
communities,  tribes, and  parents with  resources [to  help them                                                               
understand] childhood  trauma, isolation, bullying,  and anything                                                               
that prevents  students from learning and  becoming well-adjusted                                                               
children  and then  adults.   He stated  that AASB  has been  the                                                               
recipient  of   several  grants  from  the   U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Education.   These  grants are  to help  create partnerships  and                                                               
provide support for  students' physical and emotional  needs.  He                                                               
opined that often  educators must address the  emotional needs of                                                               
students  before they  can  address the  educational  needs.   He                                                               
stated  that  students  do  not  leave  their  problems  "on  the                                                               
doorstep"  of the  school.   He  made the  comparison to  schools                                                               
providing breakfast  and stated  that it  is impossible  to teach                                                               
hungry  students.    He  stated   that  AASB  does  not  advocate                                                               
supplanting  parental responsibility;  instead, supplementing  it                                                               
by  integrating  parental lessons  into  the  academic day.    To                                                               
strengthen connections  between parents  and students,  he stated                                                               
that AASB  works directly with  families and communities  to find                                                               
ways  to  support  values   and  strengthen  connections  between                                                               
families and the school, as partners.                                                                                           
MR. WOOTEN  stated that  he expressed doubt  when he  first heard                                                               
about  the legislation  and  sought guidance  from  the board  of                                                               
directors.  He  stated that AASB does not  typically advocate for                                                               
mandates for school  districts.  However, the  board agreed, AASB                                                               
is "so  deeply embedded" with  school climate  and connectedness,                                                               
it  could not  do anything  except support  the legislation.   He                                                               
stated  that school  districts across  Alaska  are already  doing                                                               
this  work  in  order  to  receive  funding  through  ESSA.    He                                                               
continued that AASB worked with  Representative Tarr and supports                                                               
HB 173, and the changes in  [Version G].  He expressed excitement                                                               
to expand  partnerships through the  legislation to  provide even                                                               
greater support  to communities, tribes, parents,  and to support                                                               
students  in  the  school  districts.    He  stated  that  AASB's                                                               
[Resolutions Committee]  has drawn  up the  following resolutions                                                               
in  support of  [Version G]:  supporting student  success through                                                               
social  and emotional  learning and  positive youth  development;                                                               
safe,   caring,   and   connected   school;   student   wellness;                                                               
encouraging  districts  to  adopt standards  for  parental/family                                                               
involvement programs; Alaska  standards for culturally responsive                                                               
schools; and support for ESSA's  priorities.  He thanked the bill                                                               
sponsor and stated his belief  that [Version G] would help school                                                               
districts  better  prepare  students   by  improving  both  their                                                               
academics and mental health.                                                                                                    
9:04:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  thanked  Mr.   Wooten  and  acknowledged  his                                                               
longevity in support of the  Alaska's schools.  She surmised from                                                               
Mr. Wooten's testimony  that the plan's submission  date does not                                                               
need to  change.   She stated that  school districts  are already                                                               
doing the  work, and they should  not have an issue  developing a                                                               
plan by January 2024.                                                                                                           
9:05:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY   thanked  Mr.  Wooten  for   his  testimony  and                                                               
expressed interest  on his  opinion of  the selection  process of                                                               
the committee members.   She stated she feels  that appointees to                                                               
the committee should be experienced  people who have been working                                                               
on [school climate and collectiveness].                                                                                         
9:06:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  WOOTEN  expressed  confidence  in  the  process.    He  also                                                               
expressed confidence that, because  the governor has a background                                                               
in  education,  he  will  appoint   experienced  members  to  the                                                               
committee.  He stated that,  initially, school board members were                                                               
not on the list of committee  members.  He voiced appreciation to                                                               
the bill sponsor  that the legislation now  includes school board                                                               
members,  as he  believes they  will have  valuable input  in the                                                               
discussion of school  climate and connectedness.   He stated that                                                               
because of the expertise and  experience of its members, AASB has                                                               
offered  volunteer consultants  to the  committee.   He expressed                                                               
confidence that,  with the size  of the committee, there  will be                                                               
committee  members   concerned  with   the  improvement   of  the                                                               
academic, mental, and physical health of students.                                                                              
9:08:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony on HB 173, Version G.                                                                 
9:09:02 AM                                                                                                                    
KATIE  BOTZ, representing  self, stated  her support  of HB  173,                                                               
[Version  G].   She stated  that she  identifies as  a victim  of                                                               
sexual assault.   She  shared that  she was 12  years old  at the                                                               
time of her  trauma and is living proof of  its effects on mental                                                               
health and  wellbeing.   She stated after  the incident  she felt                                                               
she could not talk about  her emotions, fear, or anything related                                                               
to her trauma.  She stated  that at school she resented everyone,                                                               
fought  with other  students,  and  was often  in  trouble.   She                                                               
stated that  she never worked  through the trauma, but  moving to                                                               
Juneau, where  no one  knew her  past, felt  like a  clean slate.                                                               
However,  once she  entered the  workforce, she  stated that  her                                                               
emotional trauma  resurfaced.  She  said that, even as  an adult,                                                               
she almost  lost her job  because she never addressed  the trauma                                                               
at a young  age.  She stated that she  feels addressing students'                                                               
problems  sooner  will  help  them  as adults.    She  asked  the                                                               
committee to support HB 173, [Version G].                                                                                       
9:11:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND thanked  Ms. Botz  for her  testimony.   After                                                               
ascertaining that  there was no  one else who wished  to testify,                                                               
she closed public testimony.                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that HB 173 was held over.                                                                          
9:12:38 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 9:13 a.m. to 9:14 a.m.                                                                       
         HB 335-RAMPART SCHOOL: YUKON-KOYUKUK DISTRICT                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  that  the final  order of  business                                                               
would  be HOUSE  BILL NO.  335,  "An Act  providing that  Rampart                                                               
School  is  located  within  the  Yukon-Koyukuk  School  District                                                               
regional  educational  attendance  area;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."   [Not on the recording,  but reconstructed from                                                               
the  committee  secretary's  log  notes,  was  Co-Chair  Drummond                                                               
announcement of HB 335.]                                                                                                        
9:14:04 AM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI   TESHNER,  Acting   Deputy  Commissioner,   Department  of                                                               
Education and  Early Development, presented  HB 335 on  behalf of                                                               
the sponsor, House Rules by request  of the governor.  She stated                                                               
that  the   Rampart  School  is   currently  within   the  school                                                               
boundaries of  the Yukon Flat  School District (YFSD).   However,                                                               
since fiscal year  2017 (FY 17), a memorandum  of agreement (MOA)                                                               
authorized   the   Yukon-Koyukuk   School  District   (YKSD)   to                                                               
administer and  operate the Rampart  School.  In April  2019 both                                                               
the commissioner of  DEED and the commissioner  of the Department                                                               
of Commerce,  Community & Economic  Development (DCCED)  signed a                                                               
decisional  memorandum  that  effectively permitted  the  Rampart                                                               
School  to operate  under  YKSD.   She  stated  that despite  the                                                               
Rampart  School   functioning  under   YKSD,  residents   of  the                                                               
community  discovered  they were  not  legal  to vote  on  Yukon-                                                               
Koyukuk  School  Board  elections.    She  explained  that  under                                                               
Article  X, Section  6,  of the  Alaska  State Constitution,  the                                                               
legislature  serves as  the assembly  for the  regional education                                                               
attendance areas  (REAAs) that are part  of unorganized boroughs.                                                               
Furthermore,  she  explained  that  [the  decisional  memorandum]                                                               
cannot  change   school  district  boundaries,  pursuant   to  AS                                                               
29.03.020,  which would  allow for  maximum local  participation,                                                               
and  allow  the  legislature  to "establish,  alter,  or  abolish                                                               
school service areas within the unorganized borough".                                                                           
MS.  TESHNER stated  that HB  335  allows for  the maximum  local                                                               
participation  within the  Yukon-Koyukuk  School  Board, and  the                                                               
legislature is  the appropriate entity  to authorize  the Rampart                                                               
School to  become part  of the  YKSD.   The community  of Rampart                                                               
aligns culturally and historically  with communities in YKSD, and                                                               
both  school districts  back placing  the  Rampart School  within                                                               
YKSD.   The passage of HB  335 would result in  a boundary change                                                               
for the  two REAAs, allowing  parents of students at  the Rampart                                                               
School  to participate  in school  board elections  applicable to                                                               
their community school.                                                                                                         
9:17:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  stated that he  is aware of this  issue and                                                               
is  "thrilled"  that  the  sponsor  has put  this  forward.    He                                                               
recommended  that  the  bill  be passed  quickly  so  the  school                                                               
districts can  [proceed with their  agenda].  In response  to Co-                                                               
Chair  Drummond,  he  confirmed  that  the  legislation  directly                                                               
affects the district he represents.                                                                                             
9:18:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  stated  his  support for  HB  335.    He                                                               
acknowledged that  the need for  this school district  change has                                                               
been ongoing.  He inquired  whether this situation has previously                                                               
happened in  the state and whether  the community has any  say in                                                               
the move.                                                                                                                       
9:18:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TESHNER answered  that this situation is the only  one she is                                                               
aware  of  in  the  state,  and  the  representatives  from  both                                                               
districts and the community met and agreed to this move.                                                                        
9:19:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TESHNER,  in response to  a question from  Co-Chair Drummond,                                                               
stated  that the  MOA  has been  in existence  since  2017.   The                                                               
Rampart  School  reopened  in  2016  under  YFSD  and  in  FY  17                                                               
transferred to  YKSD.  In  response to a follow-up  question, she                                                               
stated  that  the  funding  goes  with the  school,  not  to  the                                                               
original  district.   Based on  the MOA,  DEED pays  the school's                                                               
funding to YKSD.                                                                                                                
9:20:26 AM                                                                                                                    
KERRY  BOYD,   Superintendent,  Yukon-Koyukuk   School  District,                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska,  stated her  support for HB  335.   She shared                                                               
that she has worked  in YKSD for 15 years and  that both YKSD and                                                               
YFSD  support the  bill.   She stated  that the  discussion began                                                               
when  the Rampart  Village Council  sent  a letter  on April  19,                                                               
2016, requesting  the school move from  YFSD to YKSD.   The chief                                                               
of  the village  council, the  school staff,  and the  members of                                                               
community reached  out to  the YKSD, and  since, she  stated that                                                               
the two districts  have discussed the issue multiple  times.  The                                                               
discussions  resulted  in  both  districts signing  an  MOA  that                                                               
called for  YKSD to manage,  administer, and operate  the Rampart                                                               
School.   At yearly board  meetings the two boards  discussed the                                                               
issue  and   posted  public  notices.     She  stated   that  the                                                               
communities  are  culturally  aligned  and  not  opposed  to  the                                                               
change.   She  said  that since  2017, the  MOA  must be  renewed                                                               
annually  by a  time-consuming  process; thus,  a commitment  now                                                               
exists  for  a permanent  boundary  change  to move  the  Rampart                                                               
School into YKSD.   Even so, she argued that  the main reason for                                                               
the  permanent   boundary  change  is  the   Alaska  Division  of                                                               
Elections  cannot use  [the decisional  memorandum] to  recognize                                                               
the  village  of  Rampart  as part  of  YKSD,  therefore  Rampart                                                               
residents are  not allowed  to vote  in the  Yukon-Koyukuk School                                                               
Board  elections.   She stated  that due  to the  closure of  the                                                               
Rampart School,  the facilities and  buildings need  updating and                                                               
improvement.   She indicated that  YKSD would be  responsible for                                                               
this maintenance.  She stated  that the permanent boundary change                                                               
would  remove any  property ownership  or title  questions.   She                                                               
suggested that the  school boards and DEED have  spent many hours                                                               
on the  process of  annually approving the  MOA and,  she stated,                                                               
"now your time" is being spent.                                                                                                 
MS. BOYD  stated that since 2008  there has been a  great deal of                                                               
work and  questions on  how to  make this  boundary change.   She                                                               
stated the districts thought that  they had found a solution when                                                               
the  commissioners  of  DEED  and  DCCED  signed  the  decisional                                                               
memorandum  in 2019.   However,  that year,  the director  of the                                                               
Alaska  Division  of Elections  sent  a  letter invalidating  the                                                               
decisional memorandum.   She  stated that  the Department  of Law                                                               
(DOL) nullified  the decisional  memorandum, announcing  that the                                                               
memorandum did not  have the force of law.   She stated that over                                                               
the past  few years the districts  have been in contact  with DOL                                                               
in  order to  accomplish the  permanent school  district boundary                                                               
change.  She stated that  for years the districts and communities                                                               
have posted notices  and had meetings; now HB 335  is in front of                                                               
the  this  committee  seeking  a  permanent  resolution  for  the                                                               
Rampart  School.    She  voiced  appreciation  to  the  committee                                                               
members  for their  public service  and to  the governor  and his                                                               
team for sponsoring the bill.                                                                                                   
9:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  stated she understood that  the Rampart School                                                               
closed for  many years due to  lack of population.   She inquired                                                               
whether the  school had representation  on the board of  YFSD and                                                               
would continue to have the representation.                                                                                      
9:27:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BOYD  responded that  at  that  time,  the school  did  have                                                               
representation in YFSD,  and the residents were able  to vote for                                                               
board  members; due  to the  MOA, they  have looked  to YKSD  for                                                               
representation.  In response to  a follow-up question, she stated                                                               
that,  as superintendent  of YKSD,  the Rampart  School has  been                                                               
under  her supervision.   Responding  to  a subsequent  follow-up                                                               
question,  she stated  that  once the  bill  passes, the  Rampart                                                               
School  will  have  representation on  the  Yukon-Koyukuk  School                                                               
9:28:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND opened  public  testimony on  HB  335.   After                                                               
ascertaining that  there was  no one who  wished to  testify, she                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that HB 335 was held over.                                                                          
9:29:31 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 9:29 a.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CS for HB 173 Version G.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 173
HB 173 Explanation of changes Version G.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 173
HB 335 Committee Packet 3.7.22 DEED.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 335
HB 335 - Sponsor Statement 2.15.2022.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 335
HB 335 6.1.2017_MOA_YFSD_YKSD_DEED_DCCED_Rampart_School.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 335
HB 335 FN EED FP 2.11.22.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 335
HB335 - Sectional Analysis 2.17.2022.pdf HEDC 3/7/2022 8:00:00 AM
HB 335