Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

04/15/2009 08:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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08:02:52 AM Start
08:03:08 AM HB215
08:37:00 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 215(EDC) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 15, 2009                                                                                         
                           8:02 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Bettye Davis, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Charlie Huggins                                                                                                         
Senator Donald Olson                                                                                                            
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 215(EDC)                                                                                                  
"An Act repealing school experience for salary scales                                                                           
     MOVED CSHB 215(EDC) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 215                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TEACHERS' SALARIES: SCHOOL EXPERIENCE                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) WILSON                                                                                            
04/03/09       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/03/09       (H)       EDC                                                                                                    
04/08/09       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/08/09       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/08/09       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
04/10/09       (H)       EDC RPT CS(EDC) NT 3DP 3NR                                                                             
04/10/09       (H)       DP: WILSON, GARDNER, SEATON                                                                            
04/10/09       (H)       NR: KELLER, MUNOZ, BUCH                                                                                
04/10/09       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/10/09       (H)       Moved CSHB 215(EDC) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/10/09       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
04/13/09       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
04/13/09       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 215(EDC)                                                                                 
04/14/09       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/14/09       (S)       EDC                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
DANIEL DISTEFANO, staff to Representative Wilson                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 215 for the sponsor.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY WILSON                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 215.                                                                                        
EDDY JEANS, Director of School Finance                                                                                          
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding HB 215.                                                                      
JOHN ALCANTRA, Government Relations Director                                                                                    
National Education Association Alaska (NEA)                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: No position on HB 215.                                                                                    
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:02:52 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR BETTYE  DAVIS called  the  Senate Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 8:02  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were Senators Stevens, Olson and Davis.                                                                                   
          HB 215-TEACHERS' SALARIES: SCHOOL EXPERIENCE                                                                      
8:03:08 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR DAVIS  announced the consideration of  HB 215. [Before                                                               
the committee was CSHB 215(EDC)].                                                                                               
8:04:15 AM                                                                                                                    
DANIEL DISTEFANO,  staff to Representative Wilson,  sponsor of HB
215, said  it was  introduced because  they believe  schools need                                                               
additional  tools   to  provide  Alaska's  kids   with  the  best                                                               
education possible.                                                                                                             
This  bill repeals  salary  scale limitations  that  were put  in                                                               
place  during  territorial  days  for  hiring  new,  out-of-state                                                               
teachers,  and thus  allowing  for  more competitive  recruitment                                                               
efforts.  Current  statutes  limit  the  amount  of  out-of-state                                                               
professional  experience   that  may  be  used   to  establish  a                                                               
teacher's  experience on  the salary  scale. No  matter how  long                                                               
they've  been  teaching,   out-of-state  teachers  with  bachelor                                                               
degrees can  only receive  credit for  six years  of out-of-state                                                               
experience. A master's degree increases  the credit to only eight                                                               
Hard to fill  specialty positions such as  therapists and special                                                               
needs teachers are in high  demand in school districts across the                                                               
country  as  well as  in  Alaska;  by repealing  this  antiquated                                                               
statute, districts will be able  to negotiate salaries on a case-                                                               
by-case  basis and  will help  keep Alaska  competitive with  the                                                               
rest   of  the   country  when   vying  for   needed  educational                                                               
8:05:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  if  this  essentially  floats  a  higher                                                               
recruiting scale, how can there be a zero fiscal note.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON answered that each  school would do this on                                                               
a  case-by-case basis.  She explained  that  existing statute  is                                                               
left over from  the territorial days and right now,  if a teacher                                                               
for  a   hard-to-fill  position  comes   in  with  20   years  of                                                               
experience,  schools don't  have the  ability to  offer a  salary                                                               
that  takes that  amount  of experience  into  account. So,  that                                                               
creates a competitive  disadvantage in hiring. If  HB 215 passes,                                                               
schools can decide what they can allow within their own budgets.                                                                
8:07:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said  that schools are spending  from the state's                                                               
money and  it seems as if  the department would be  spending more                                                               
under this scenario.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  suggested that  Mr.  Jeans  might be  the                                                               
person to answer Senator Huggins's question.                                                                                    
MR.  DISTEFANO added  that school  funding will  not change;  but                                                               
districts  will  simply  have  more discretion  on  how  it  gets                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS wondered how the bill became only one line.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  explained that it originally  included two                                                               
subjects, one of which was  dropout prevention. Because the House                                                               
Education  Committee is  working on  a bill  this summer  dealing                                                               
with dropout  prevention, they decided  to remove that  from this                                                               
8:08:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked for an  example of what the  difference in                                                               
salary might be if this bill passes.                                                                                            
8:09:25 AM                                                                                                                    
EDDY JEANS,  Director of School Finance,  Department of Education                                                               
and  Early  Development  (DEED),  explained  the  way  it  works.                                                               
Teachers are  awarded steps based  on their years  of experience.                                                               
The  existing law  dates back  to territorial  days when  schools                                                               
were state-operated and the state  was paying the highest average                                                               
teacher salaries  in the nation,  which is no longer  true. There                                                               
are  now teacher  shortages in  specialty areas,  so the  pool of                                                               
teachers out  there has diminished  substantially from  when this                                                               
law was adopted in territorial days.                                                                                            
HB 215 allows districts one  more tool to make Alaska competitive                                                               
with other states  in hiring experienced teachers.  He hoped that                                                               
districts  would adopt  policies  to  address these  hard-to-fill                                                               
positions so  that they  are not just  opening negotiating  on an                                                               
individual basis. He that many  people were simply not aware that                                                               
this law was still on the books.                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  asked for an  example of the step  difference in                                                               
8:11:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  said he doesn't  negotiate salaries, and  Mr. Alcantra                                                               
might  be  able  to  answer  that question.  He  added  that,  in                                                               
response  to Senator  Huggins's  question about  the zero  fiscal                                                               
note, this doesn't increase the  amount districts receive through                                                               
the  foundation program  or any  other state  formula; it  simply                                                               
allows  them  the latitude  to  negotiate  within their  existing                                                               
8:12:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON asked  if there  are penalties  for not  complying                                                               
with the existing statute.                                                                                                      
MR.  JEANS  answered  no; the  department  doesn't  even  monitor                                                               
SENATOR OLSON asked why this law is getting changed now.                                                                        
MR. JEANS replied that it's  simply because they weren't aware of                                                               
this limitation  until it  came to  light when  districts started                                                               
recruiting for out-of-state  teachers. And it doesn't  make a lot                                                               
of sense.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR OLSON agreed.                                                                                                           
8:13:19 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN ALCANTRA, Government  Relations Director, National Education                                                               
Association Alaska (NEA) Public  School Employees' Union, thanked                                                               
the  committee  for   making  time  to  hear   bills  related  to                                                               
education. He  said that  NEA has  217 positions  on legislation,                                                               
but none on this particular issue.  This may be a very good bill,                                                               
but  he  wondered  why  it  was moving  through  the  process  so                                                               
quickly. He  thinks they  should work on  it through  the Interim                                                               
rather than rushing to judgment.                                                                                                
He explained  that, although contracts  differ from  one district                                                               
to another  - Anchorage,  for example, allows  five years  on the                                                               
salary  schedule  and  Juneau  allows ten  years  on  the  salary                                                               
schedule  - but,  if  they were  abiding by  the  law, a  teacher                                                               
coming in  from outside with  a master's degree would  only start                                                               
at step eight or with a  bachelors degree at step six unless they                                                               
have additional experience  in the state of Alaska  to bring them                                                               
up to a step ten.                                                                                                               
MR.  ALCANTRA  admitted that  it  may  benefit their  members  to                                                               
remove this antiquated statute from  the books but, he opined, if                                                               
he was  hired as a  special education teacher in  Petersburg with                                                               
eight  years experience  four years  ago and  was at  the maximum                                                               
placement on the  salary schedule, and the  school district hired                                                               
a highly skilled special needs  teacher from outside the state at                                                               
a step 15, he would not be pleased.                                                                                             
8:18:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS said  he doesn't  remember  Mat-Su's rules,  but                                                               
there is some  portability of tenure. His concern is  that he has                                                               
not been  able to talk  to his  school district about  this bill,                                                               
and although it appears to be benign, he doesn't know that.                                                                     
SENATOR  OLSON said  it  seems  to be  straight  forward, and  he                                                               
doesn't  see  why  they  wouldn't  go ahead  with  this  type  of                                                               
MR. ALCANTRA  agreed that it  does have the potential  to benefit                                                               
school  districts,  but it  could  also  be used  arbitrarily;  a                                                               
person  could  cherry-pick  teachers   in  a  manner  that  might                                                               
conflict  with individual  bargaining  agreements. He  reiterated                                                               
that he doesn't understand why  this is moving through the system                                                               
so fast.                                                                                                                        
8:22:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  pointed out that  it was just introduced  on April                                                               
they  have a  lot  of  hard-to-fill positions  and  he has  found                                                               
someone he would like to hire,  but he can't offer a sufficiently                                                               
attractive salary, what can he tell that superintendent?                                                                        
8:23:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ALCANTRA admitted  that the bill was introduced  April 3and                                                                 
it was totally  changed on Friday. He wasn't sure  what he should                                                               
say  to  that superintendent;  he  doesn't  know that  district's                                                               
contract  or  what  that superintendent  has  offered  to  induce                                                               
teachers  to   stay.  He  appreciated   the  issue,   but  didn't                                                               
necessarily know if this was the right solution.                                                                                
8:24:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON commented that the  highest turnover rate is in the                                                               
western  rural districts  - 26  to  28 percent  annually, and  he                                                               
represents six of those districts.                                                                                              
8:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS said  it appears this is going to  have to change                                                               
eventually. Either  folks are  ignoring it,  or it  is preventing                                                               
people  from  hiring so,  though  he  understands this  isn't  an                                                               
"earth shaking" piece of legislation, he thought it could help.                                                                 
8:25:42 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR DAVIS closed public testimony  on HB 215. She said she                                                               
accepts  responsibility for  placing  this on  a  fast track.  It                                                               
passed the  House with 40  votes, which  is very unusual  and she                                                               
believes  it can  be  a  useful tool  for  school districts.  She                                                               
stated  that  she  is  always   concerned  about  education,  but                                                               
admitted that more  information was needed before  it reaches the                                                               
Senate floor.  She was inclined to  pass it out of  committee and                                                               
hold  it   in  Rules  until   they  could  get   some  additional                                                               
information,  but said  she will  leave  the decision  up to  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON said  this was  heard twice  in the  House                                                               
Education  Committee,  and  some  questions came  up  on  dropout                                                               
prevention, but that  is not on this issue and  she was surprised                                                               
to  find anyone  speaking against  it here.  There are  no hidden                                                               
agendas here; the  bill was introduced at the  request of schools                                                               
who contacted her office.                                                                                                       
8:30:18 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  DAVIS assured her  that no  one believes that  she is                                                               
trying to slip something past them.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON said  it originally included a  way for the                                                               
schools to  use their  student counts for  the current  year when                                                               
they negotiate with the city  for their budgets every March; that                                                               
would give them a firm figure to  go with for the next year. Then                                                               
in  the  October count,  if  the  numbers  went  up it  could  be                                                               
8:32:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   STEVENS  asked   if  this   particular  piece   of  the                                                               
legislation was introduced at the request of school districts.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON confirmed that it was.                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  which school  districts  requested  this                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   WILSON   answered   that  Wrangell   and   Craig                                                               
districts, but she couldn't remember the third.                                                                                 
SENATOR   HUGGINS  asked   Representative   Wilson  what   school                                                               
districts testified on the bill.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied that no one has testified.                                                                        
SENATOR HUGGINS emphasized that he  was not against this bill; he                                                               
knows  that districts  have  provisions in  place  for scales  of                                                               
experience in  hiring and  this would just  scrap them.  He isn't                                                               
sure whether  it is in  their best interests  to do that,  and he                                                               
thinks they  need to discuss  whether some other  criteria should                                                               
be put in  place. He, too, was a little  confused about the haste                                                               
to move this through the process.                                                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON  moved  to  report  HB  215  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  attached zero  fiscal  note(s).                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHB 215(EDC)  moved from  the Senate                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
8:37:00 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR DAVIS  said when the bill goes to  the Rules Committee                                                               
she would  ask that it  not be placed  on the schedule  until she                                                               
has provided the committee with additional information.                                                                         
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Vice Chair Davis adjourned the meeting at 8:37 a.m.                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB 215 (EDC) ATP support.pdf SEDC 4/15/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
CSHB 215 (EDC) Applicable Statutes.pdf SEDC 4/15/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
CSHB 215 (EDC) Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 4/15/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
CSHB 215 (EDC) Fiscal Note EED.pdf SEDC 4/15/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
CSHB 215 (EDC) email support.pdf SEDC 4/15/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215