Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

04/09/2021 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
09:05:44 AM Start
09:06:22 AM Confirmation Hearing(s)
09:26:33 AM SB111
10:11:17 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Scott Jepsen, Governor's TELECONFERENCED
Appointee to the University Board of Regents
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony-Removed from Agenda
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 9, 2021                                                                                          
                           9:05 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Roger Holland, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Gary Stevens, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                          
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                                         
Board of Regents                                                                                                              
Scott Jepsen - Anchorage                                                                                                        
     - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 111                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to  the duties of  the Department  of Education                                                               
and Early  Development; relating  to public schools;  relating to                                                               
early  education   programs;  relating   to  funding   for  early                                                               
education programs; relating to  school age eligibility; relating                                                               
to reports by the Department  of Education and Early Development;                                                               
relating   to   reports   by  school   districts;   relating   to                                                               
certification and  competency of teachers; relating  to assessing                                                               
reading deficiencies and  providing reading intervention services                                                               
to  public  school  students   enrolled  in  grades  kindergarten                                                               
through three;  relating to textbooks  and materials  for reading                                                               
intervention  services; establishing  a  reading  program in  the                                                               
Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development;  relating  to                                                               
school  operating   funds;  relating   to  a   virtual  education                                                               
consortium; and providing for an effective date."                                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 111                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EARLY EDUCATION; READING INTERVENTION                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): EDUCATION                                                                                                           
03/24/21       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/24/21       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
03/26/21       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/26/21       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/26/21       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/29/21       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/29/21       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/29/21       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/31/21       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/31/21       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/31/21       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
04/07/21       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/07/21       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
04/09/21       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SCOTT JEPSEN, Appointee to the Board of Regents                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
Testified as governor's appointee to the Board of Regents.                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:                                                                                                           
ED KING, Staff                                                                                                                  
Senator Roger Holland                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed requested changes for the committee                                                              
substitute for SB 111.                                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
9:05:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ROGER HOLLAND called the Senate Education Standing                                                                      
Committee meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. Present at the call to                                                                  
order were Senators Begich, Stevens, and Chair Holland.                                                                         
^Confirmation Hearing(s)                                                                                                        
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                   
             University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                          
9:06:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND  announced  the  confirmation  hearing  for  Scott                                                               
Jepsen  to  the  Board  of  Regents. He  invited  Mr.  Jepsen  to                                                               
introduce himself to the committee.                                                                                             
9:06:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT JEPSEN,  Appointee, University of Alaska  Board of Regents,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, said  he has lived in Alaska for  more than 30                                                               
years. His  son attended the  University of Alaska  Fairbanks and                                                               
received a petroleum engineering  degree and is currently working                                                               
in Anchorage.  Mr. Jepsen worked for  ARCO in Alaska and  left to                                                               
work elsewhere but knew he wanted  to come back. In 1997, he came                                                               
back  to  manage  the  Kuparuk  development  organization.  After                                                               
working  on many  projects in  the  oil industry,  he retired  in                                                               
March and then applied for an  open seat on the Board of Regents.                                                               
In his  time at ARCO and  Conoco Phillips, he saw  the University                                                               
of  Alaska  graduates evolve  to  the  point that  they  competed                                                               
favorably with  graduates from other universities.  He had worked                                                               
to  support programs  at  the University  of  Alaska that  Conoco                                                               
hired for. It  is hard to get qualified people  to come to Alaska                                                               
and stay for a while. However, Alaskans stay and like it here.                                                                  
MR. JEPSEN said he wants to  give Alaskans the opportunity to get                                                               
a good  education in their own  state that will qualify  them for                                                               
Alaskan  jobs.  He  has  served   on  the  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Foundation. During his  time as a board member, he  saw where the                                                               
university  is  strong  and  meeting  the  needs  of  state.  The                                                               
university has strong programs  in teaching, accounting, nursing,                                                               
logistics,  engineering,  Arctic  research,  indigenous  studies,                                                               
etc.  Its drone  research  program  is one  of  the  best in  the                                                               
country. He wants to do all  he can to help the university become                                                               
stronger and  stable and with  a strategic vision for  the future                                                               
that  recognizes  the fiscal  pressures  on  the state  but  also                                                               
serves  the  needs  of  the   state  for  higher  education.  His                                                               
background will be useful in achieving this goal.                                                                               
CHAIR  HOLLAND said  he  appreciates his  view  from the  private                                                               
sector recruiting UA  graduates. He thanked him  for his comments                                                               
about facing  the reality  of less state  funding and  his belief                                                               
that he  can lead the  university through  the next few  years to                                                               
minimize  its dependence  on state  funds while  providing higher                                                               
education opportunities in critical areas.                                                                                      
9:12:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS said  Mr. Jepsen will be a great  addition to the                                                               
board with  his experience  with the  foundation and  his career.                                                               
The  university lost  accreditation  with  the Anchorage  teacher                                                               
training program two  or three years ago. The  problem as Senator                                                               
Stevens sees it is  that no one knew it was  going to happen. The                                                               
university president  said he was  not aware that  the university                                                               
was in  danger of losing its  accreditation. That is an  issue of                                                               
enormous  importance to  the Board  of  Regents. Senator  Stevens                                                               
asked for Mr. Jepsen's thoughts on that.                                                                                        
MR. JEPSEN  responded that  he was shocked  and dismayed  when he                                                               
heard about that.  Speaking from the outside, he  doesn't want to                                                               
be critical  about any part  of the university system  because he                                                               
doesn't know  how it works, but  this is something that  needs to                                                               
be  managed and  needs oversight.  There  was a  breakdown. As  a                                                               
regent, he  will want to make  sure systems are in  place to make                                                               
sure  there  is an  early  warning  system  for any  issues  with                                                               
accreditation. He can't figure out  how the loss of accreditation                                                               
happened and  he was surprised  that everyone was  surprised that                                                               
it happened.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  commented that Mr.  Jepsen will be  joining fine                                                               
group on the Board of Regents.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  BEGICH   shared  that  he   and  Mr.  Jepsen   have  had                                                               
straightforward conversations  in Mr. Jepsen's prior  role and he                                                               
has  always appreciated  his candor  and his  ability to  tell it                                                               
like  it is  and push  back hard  on comments  and thoughts  that                                                               
Senator Begich  had put forward.  Senator Begich would  hope that                                                               
Mr.  Jepsen would  not  hesitate to  apply  that same  laser-like                                                               
focus to the university because it  needs it. He asked Mr. Jepsen                                                               
what he  thinks the  state role is  in supporting  the university                                                               
and  asked him  to expand  on  his vision  of where  he sees  the                                                               
university at the end of his term in seven years.                                                                               
MR. JEPSEN asked  if Senator Begich was  referring to legislative                                                               
support for the university system.                                                                                              
SENATOR BEGICH  said that Mr.  Jepsen has stressed that  with his                                                               
role at the foundation he tried  to move the board to a sustained                                                               
endowment.  He  has  worked  to  reduce  the  dependency  of  the                                                               
university on  state funds.  Senator Begich  asked where  is that                                                               
going, what is his vision of  the level of state support, and how                                                               
that will be  offset. Senator Begich is trying to  get at what is                                                               
his operational  approach, his philosophy  toward serving  on the                                                               
Board of  Regents. Senator Begich  thinks he will agree  with Mr.                                                               
Jepsen but would like Mr. Jepsen to articulate that.                                                                            
9:16:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES arrived.                                                                                                         
MR. JEPSEN  replied that  the board knows  there are  fewer funds                                                               
for all  state functions.  As part of  that, the  university must                                                               
figure out  what things  the university is  good at,  what serves                                                               
the needs of the community.  The university will have less money.                                                               
The university will  have to be shaped to  deliver those products                                                               
within those constraints.  The board will have to  look at costs,                                                               
what things that do not have  value that could be eliminated, and                                                               
how to  gain efficiency to  deliver the  end goal with  the money                                                               
available. He  is not a regent  now and does not  have the inside                                                               
knowledge that  he will hopefully have  in a couple of  years, so                                                               
he cannot exactly lay out the  specific steps. As the board moves                                                               
down that path,  it will share that vision  with the legislature,                                                               
and it  will have a unified  perspective about what it  wants the                                                               
university to  be and what it  will take to support  it. He wants                                                               
to talk  about that vision  and what it  will take to  achieve it                                                               
and hopefully have the support  of the legislature, the governor,                                                               
the university, and stakeholders in the university system.                                                                      
CHAIR   HOLLAND   noted   that   testimony   can   be   sent   to                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  said that he  outlined the vision  Senator Begich                                                               
expected  to hear  and he  likes that.  It is  not just  what the                                                               
state level of support is, but  he commends Mr.  Jepsen's efforts                                                               
toward moving to  a stronger endowment with  more private capital                                                               
coming  to  the university.  One  of  Senator Begich's  concerns,                                                               
which  has come  up  in  the committee,  is  the  loss of  civics                                                               
education,  the  loss  of  an   understanding  of  the  roles  of                                                               
citizens. Part  of that is  a well-rounded experience  that comes                                                               
out of  a university  education with  arts and  humanities, which                                                               
have  suffered.  As  Senator Begich  heard  Mr.  Jepsen  talking,                                                               
Senator Begich  just had a  cautionary note that it  is difficult                                                               
to  point  to  the  arts  and humanities  as  a  place  that  any                                                               
university  is strong  in, but  they are  a core  component of  a                                                               
well-rounded  university  education.   They  make  people  better                                                               
engineers,  scientists,  and  mathematicians. He  asked  for  his                                                               
thoughts  on the  arts and  humanities programs.  They are  often                                                               
seen as  the stepchildren of  the university system,  but Senator                                                               
Begich sees them as a core component.                                                                                           
9:20:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE arrived.                                                                                                       
MR. JEPSON said  he fully support the arts and  humanities. It is                                                               
absolutely critical for an engineer  to able to speak, write, and                                                               
think  well and  have good  logic.  Kids should  be prepared  for                                                               
other  things   than  STEM  (science,   technology,  engineering,                                                               
mathematics).  They  should be  prepared  to  be lawyers,  social                                                               
workers,  etc. Arts  and  humanities are  key  components of  the                                                               
university system,  and they  will be part  of the  equation when                                                               
looking at the programs that need to be strong.                                                                                 
SENATOR MICCICHE observed  that funding issues that  have hit the                                                               
university  in the  last several  years. He  has worked  with Mr.                                                               
Jepsen  a  lot   in  the  past  and  likes   his  private  sector                                                               
experience. In the  private sector, Mr. Jepsen  has been involved                                                               
in  having to  reduce costs  and find  efficiencies. He  asked if                                                               
that  will  be  a  focus   of  Mr.  Jepsen's.  Funding  has  been                                                               
dramatically reduced  yet the state wants  a high-quality product                                                               
for young  people to  be prepared.  He asked  if Mr.  Jepsen sees                                                               
some  opportunities  for improving  the  outcome  yet making  the                                                               
system more efficient than it has been in the past.                                                                             
MR. JEPSEN replied that he  does not believe that reduced funding                                                               
equates  to   a  lower-quality   education  or   university.  The                                                               
university  is not  private enterprise.  It  is more  complicated                                                               
than that  and has more stakeholders,  but over the years  he has                                                               
seen  that business  can become  more  efficient and  successful.                                                               
That is the philosophy he will bring to this position.                                                                          
9:24:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND opened  public  testimony  and after  ascertaining                                                               
there was none, closed public testimony. He solicited a motion.                                                                 
9:24:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS stated that in  accordance with AS 39.05.080, the                                                               
Senate Education  Standing Committee  reviewed the  following and                                                               
recommends the appointments  be forwarded to a  joint session for                                                               
University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                                         
Scott Jepsen - Anchorage                                                                                                        
CHAIR  HOLLAND   reminded  members   that  signing   the  reports                                                               
regarding  appointments  to  boards  and commissions  in  no  way                                                               
reflects  individual  members'  approval or  disapproval  of  the                                                               
appointees;  the nominations  are  merely forwarded  to the  full                                                               
legislature for confirmation or rejection.                                                                                      
9:25:08 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
          SB 111-EARLY EDUCATION; READING INTERVENTION                                                                      
9:26:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 111                                                                
"An Act  relating to  the duties of  the Department  of Education                                                               
and Early  Development; relating  to public schools;  relating to                                                               
early  education   programs;  relating   to  funding   for  early                                                               
education programs; relating to  school age eligibility; relating                                                               
to reports by the Department  of Education and Early Development;                                                               
relating   to   reports   by  school   districts;   relating   to                                                               
certification and  competency of teachers; relating  to assessing                                                               
reading deficiencies and  providing reading intervention services                                                               
to  public  school  students   enrolled  in  grades  kindergarten                                                               
through three;  relating to textbooks  and materials  for reading                                                               
intervention  services; establishing  a  reading  program in  the                                                               
Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development;  relating  to                                                               
school  operating   funds;  relating   to  a   virtual  education                                                               
consortium; and providing for an effective date."                                                                               
CHAIR HOLLAND  said that  a request for  changes for  a committee                                                               
substitute  has been  submitted.  The committee  will review  the                                                               
requested   changes   before   tomorrow's  meeting   for   public                                                               
testimony. The committee substitute will  be posted to the Senate                                                               
Education Committee website  once it is available.  He invited Ed                                                               
King to the table to explain the changes.                                                                                       
9:27:29 AM                                                                                                                    
ED KING, Staff, Senator Roger  Holland, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
said  this  would be  a  high-level  discussion of  the  expected                                                               
     Change #1: Insert "culturally responsive" language into                                                                    
     four additional places and defines the term                                                                                
     Change #2: Add an annual report for the Parents-as-Teachers                                                                
     Change #3: Remove any confusion in the carry-forward                                                                       
     provisions by:                                                                                                             
        • Deleting section 23 from version W                                                                                    
        • Increasing carryover limit from 10% to 25% immediately                                                                
        • Allowing for additional carryover (greater than 25%)                                                                  
          with departmental approval                                                                                            
CHAIR  HOLLAND clarified  that  it  goes from  10  percent to  25                                                               
percent and department approval is  needed for an amount above 25                                                               
MR. KING replied that is  correct. In the current situation, when                                                               
excess funding  exists, the department  would be able  to approve                                                               
the use of those funds, those  federal dollars. In the future, if                                                               
a  situation like  that were  to develop  again, this  would give                                                               
latitude to Department of Education  and Early Development (DEED)                                                               
to deal with that issue.                                                                                                        
CHAIR HOLLAND clarified,  and Mr. King affirmed,  that the excess                                                               
funds are  CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief,  and Economic Security                                                               
Act) dollars.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH  said that  the  prior  version referred  to  the                                                               
National Assessment of Educational  Progress (NAEP) scores. Chair                                                               
Holland had said  that would be changed because  those scores did                                                               
not apply to all districts.                                                                                                     
MR.  KING  said that  is  correct.  The  discretion is  with  the                                                               
9:29:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES clarified  that the  prior version  required that                                                               
the  additional  funding  be used  for  academic  instruction  as                                                               
opposed to  administration. She asked if  any of that is  left in                                                               
or is it up to the department.                                                                                                  
MR. KING said it is departmental discretion.                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE said  that Mr. King had referred  to the ability                                                               
to spend,  but this  is about  the ability  to carry  forward. It                                                               
doesn't require  a spending  plan. It  allows districts  to carry                                                               
above 25 percent  with department approval. He asked  Mr. King to                                                               
clarify that.                                                                                                                   
MR. KING responded that currently  if districts have a balance in                                                               
excess of  10 percent of  their operating expenses,  that results                                                               
in a  reduction in state aid  the following year, so  there is an                                                               
incentive to  spend that money.  This provision  allows districts                                                               
to save that money for a specific purpose.                                                                                      
MR. KING continued  reviewing the changes. He noted  change #4 is                                                               
a technical change to align definitions.                                                                                        
     Change #4: Create consistency in teacher certificate                                                                       
     requirements by inserting language from section 32 into                                                                    
     section 30.                                                                                                                
     Change #5: Clarifies the early education regulations to be                                                                 
     written by the state board of education by:                                                                                
        • Defining the "federal standards" added in AS                                                                          
        • Shifting the day-in-session requirements from AS                                                                      
          14.03.040 to the board's discretion                                                                                   
MR.  KING said  that current  day-in-session requirements  do not                                                               
address early  elementary programs.  The Board of  Education will                                                               
determine the correct requirements.                                                                                             
9:31:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES said  that schools  this past  year did  creative                                                               
things like four-day weeks. She  asked if this change would allow                                                               
school  districts to  do  that or  should  the day-in-session  be                                                               
changed to the number of hours to give them flexibility.                                                                        
MR.  KING replied  that  the  bill does  not  change  any of  the                                                               
existing language  that gives the  commissioner the  authority to                                                               
reduce or  change hours with all  of the other grades.  This says                                                               
that for an early education  program that doesn't currently exist                                                               
the Board of  Education will determine what the hours  per day or                                                               
per year will be.  There is no change to the  existing law. It is                                                               
a wide discretion  for the Board to  determine the day-in-session                                                               
requirement for early education.                                                                                                
MR.  KING  presented  change  #6  and  said  these  are  somewhat                                                               
technical  changes.  Because  there  is a  funding  limit  of  $3                                                               
million, there  was a  potential for larger  districts to  have a                                                               
program that would  require more than $3 million  to be excluded.                                                               
This allows for partial approvals,  so that those districts would                                                               
not be excluded. The current  version W references a ranking list                                                               
when  there is  a funding  limit but  doesn't clarify  whether to                                                               
work  from  the  bottom or  the  top  of  the  list, so  that  is                                                               
     Change #6:  Adjust the language regarding  ADM inclusion for                                                               
     early   education  students   and  funding   to  allow   the                                                               
     department  to make  partial program  approvals and  clarify                                                               
     approval should  work from  the bottom  of the  ranking list                                                               
     toward the top                                                                                                             
MR.  KING said  that  change  #7 is  an  attempt  to clarify  and                                                               
streamline the language that was  in the original bill. There was                                                               
a recognition that  26 districts already have some  form of early                                                               
education programs. The bill was trying  to target about 20 or so                                                               
districts  expected   to  participate.  Chair   Holland's  office                                                               
requested the removal of all  that language and simply said there                                                               
is  $3  million  available  and  districts  are  able  to  apply.                                                               
However, the department must prioritize  districts that are lower                                                               
on the list.                                                                                                                    
     Change #7: Adjust the language regarding early education                                                                   
     grant programs by:                                                                                                         
        • Replacing the limit on the number of districts with a                                                                 
          $3M annual funding limit                                                                                              
        • Requiring coordination with Head Start programs before                                                                
          starting a new program                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  said that SB  111 had limited the  grants program                                                               
to  20 school  districts. If  one of  those 20  districts at  the                                                               
lower end has an approved program,  he asked if that would reduce                                                               
the number to  19 or would it include  the 21st lowest-performing                                                               
district.  He has  an  issue  with the  middle  group not  having                                                               
access to  the grants program, which  may be the same  group that                                                               
doesn't have  pre-K programs. He  is suggesting that some  of the                                                               
districts lower  down in the  rankings may have  developed strong                                                               
pre-K programs in  recent years that will allow those  to go into                                                               
the  ADM (Average  Daily Membership).  He doesn't  know that  but                                                               
they may.  He does  not want  to reduce  the number  eligible for                                                               
grants,  so would  the 21st,  22nd, or  23rd from  the bottom  be                                                               
eligible for  grants. He does not  think it is possible  with the                                                               
way it is  worded. He asked if the chair  would consider that. If                                                               
so, Senator Begich  will propose an amendment and  not change the                                                               
committee substitute.                                                                                                           
MR.  KING  replied   that  he  thinks  what   Senator  Begich  is                                                               
describing  will be  in the  committee substitute.  There was  an                                                               
implicit assumption that the 20  districts that would be eligible                                                               
for the grants would be at the  bottom of the list and as Senator                                                               
Begich  said, that  might not  be  the case.  The chair's  office                                                               
removed the 20-participant  limit. It is just a  $3 million grant                                                               
fund  similar  to  the  current pre-K  grant  funding  where  the                                                               
department can  decide how to  deploy those funds, but  it should                                                               
work  from the  bottom of  the rankings.  Every district  will be                                                               
eligible  for  a  grant  should  districts  apply  prior  to  ADM                                                               
inclusion if money is available.                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  said that  as  originally  designed, the  grants                                                               
program would  have eventually reached all  school districts. Mr.                                                               
King  is describing  a much  more limited  grants program.  There                                                               
would  be $3  million available  in the  grants program  with the                                                               
capacity for another  $3 million available or open  for those who                                                               
might  already have  a preexisting  and approved  early education                                                               
MR. KING  responded that for  clarification, the request  for the                                                               
committee substitute is  for a $3 million per  year grant program                                                               
and  a  $3 million  per  year  ADM-inclusion program.  The  high-                                                               
quality  programs can  be included  in the  ADM immediately.  For                                                               
those that go through the  grant process, once they complete that                                                               
they can  go into  the ADM.  There are  two programs.  The grants                                                               
program still exists and is universally available.                                                                              
CHAIR HOLLAND added  that for simplicity, his  office removed the                                                               
three tiers.  It is just a  ranking system and the  funds will be                                                               
allocated until they are used up every year.                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said he understands what the chair is doing.                                                                     
MR.  KING  said  that  the  second   part  of  change  #7  was  a                                                               
recommendation from  a testifier  to have more  coordination with                                                               
Head Start. When a district that does not have a locally-                                                                       
supported  or state-supported  early education  program wants  to                                                               
initiate  a program,  the  change will  require  the district  to                                                               
coordinate with the local Head Start program.                                                                                   
9:38:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND said  that is  to protect  federal funds  that may                                                               
already be allocated to a community.                                                                                            
SENATOR BEGICH  said that  is consistent with  the intent  in the                                                               
other  two  bills.   It  sounds  like  it  will   be  a  stronger                                                               
coordination  component in  the committee  substitute and  no one                                                               
will oppose that.                                                                                                               
MR. KING  said that change #8  is difficult to explain  and might                                                               
be  easier  when the  language  is  in  front of  the  committee.                                                               
Because  four-  and five-year-olds  are  both  under school  age,                                                               
there  was some  confusion on  whether  or how  they enter  early                                                               
education  vs. their  eligibility for  kindergarten. The  attempt                                                               
was to  clean up the  language and make  it clear that  four- and                                                               
five-year-olds should be in early  education programs unless they                                                               
are mature enough to enter a kindergarten program.                                                                              
     Change  #8: Clarifying  that it  is  up to  the parents  and                                                               
     districts to decide the proper  placement of four- and five-                                                               
     year-old  students  participating   in  early  education  or                                                               
     kindergarten programs                                                                                                      
CHAIR  HOLLAND  said  his  office   has  requested  changes  from                                                               
Legislative Legal and does not  know what the final language will                                                               
look like in  the committee substitute. The  committee will spend                                                               
a few  meetings going into detail  on some of these  finer points                                                               
once it has the committee substitute.                                                                                           
MR. KING said that change #9 is just a consistency issue.                                                                       
     Change #9: Create consistency in the use of the phrase                                                                     
     "evidence-based reading instruction"                                                                                       
SENATOR HUGHES said  to go back to Head Start,  the committee has                                                               
talked  a lot  about  equity  and opportunity.  Head  Start is  a                                                               
federal  program with  lots of  wonderful  people with  a lot  of                                                               
families benefitting,  but if  a community  can only  support one                                                               
pre-K program and  Head Start is doing that, she  would hope that                                                               
Head  Start would  have as  high a  quality as  outlined in  this                                                               
bill. Otherwise, those families are  not getting the full benefit                                                               
and those  children will  enter kindergarten  not as  equipped as                                                               
the children  in another community  in a program that  is meeting                                                               
the standards. She  does not know if there is  any way to address                                                               
that. The  state cannot tell a  federal program how it  should be                                                               
run, but  as parent she  would want her child  to be in  the best                                                               
preschool   program  possible.   Perhaps   they   could  have   a                                                               
conversation with  Head Start. The  committee learned  that local                                                               
boards  choose how  to run  their programs.  She would  hope that                                                               
some would  choose to follow the  high standards in this  bill so                                                               
that those kids are not shortchanged.                                                                                           
SENATOR BEGICH  said that he  concurs with Senator Hughes.  It is                                                               
likely that  the quality of  all programs  will go up  because of                                                               
the  competition from  parents  or grandparents  who will  insist                                                               
that programs  have the highest  quality. If the bill  passes, he                                                               
expects that Head Start would up  its game. This will be the tide                                                               
that rises all boats.                                                                                                           
CHAIR HOLLAND noted that Head Start  has a broader age range that                                                               
it works with and perhaps  communities can support both programs.                                                               
It will be a negotiation that will involve the department.                                                                      
MR. KING  said that change  #10 is  about consistency and  also a                                                               
more  substantive  change.  The  bill  refers  to  retention  and                                                               
promotion and the chair's office  asked for consistent use of the                                                               
word "promotion."  The change for  AS 14.30.765(d) and (f)  is an                                                               
attempt to  make it clear  what the parent's role  in progression                                                               
would be.  Subsection (d) is  specific to students in  grades K-2                                                               
and requires a  conference between the teachers and  parents if a                                                               
reading  deficiency is  identified. It  is  up to  the parent  to                                                               
decide whether  a child should  progress. It is  more restrictive                                                               
in third  grade and requires  that if a  parent wants a  child to                                                               
progress,  parents must  sign a  waiver and  additional intensive                                                               
services  are   included  in   children's  reading   plans.  With                                                               
subsection (e),  the current language  is that the  assessment be                                                               
the litmus test  for deficiency. The requested change  for (e) is                                                               
to provide  more flexibility to  districts to determine  what the                                                               
retention policy should be. Sections 34  and 35 of version W seem                                                               
to be creating confusing and will be eliminated.                                                                                
     Change #10: Use consistent language regarding progress-                                                                    
     based promotion to the next grade level and clarifying the                                                                 
     promotion process and policies by:                                                                                         
        • Replacing the words "retained" and "retention"                                                                        
          throughout the bill                                                                                                   
        • Adjusting AS 14.30.765(d) and (f) to be clearer about                                                                 
          parental promotion rights                                                                                             
        • Changing (e) to provide more flexibility to districts                                                                 
         in developing a fourth-grade promotion policy                                                                          
        • Deleting sections 34 and 35 from version W                                                                            
9:45:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE said there is  a substantial amount of policy in                                                               
Sections 34  and 35. He  asked if some  of that has  been brought                                                               
into other sections. It is the process of promotion.                                                                            
CHAIR  HOLLAND explained  that Sections  34 and  35 were  only in                                                               
there because two words were  changed. All of the verbiage exists                                                               
in legislation and is still in effect  but does not have to be in                                                               
the bill because the words are not changed.                                                                                     
SENATOR BEGICH  said that to address  Senator Micciche's concern,                                                               
those sections in  total, with the exception of  the [two words],                                                               
are incorporated  in the bill  in earlier sections. None  of that                                                               
policy lost. That  is the crux of the reading  policy and gets to                                                               
the idea of  what triggers the reading plan. All  of that will be                                                               
contained  in the  bill.  That  is the  confusion  that Mr.  King                                                               
described. It created  confusion because it appeared  to create a                                                               
second component.  This allows  the earlier  sections to  stay in                                                               
law and doesn't change a word in them.                                                                                          
SENATOR  HUGHES explained  that the  two sections  had the  words                                                               
"should"  and "must."  Because of  the parental  waiver with  the                                                               
added intervention,  "must" was not  accurate. The idea  is still                                                               
that districts  would have  to inform parents  that the  child is                                                               
not  ready  and  parents  must decide  about  promotion  with  an                                                               
agreement that  the child  have additional  intervention services                                                               
prior to the next school year.                                                                                                  
SENATOR MICCICHE said he is fine with that.                                                                                     
MR. KING said  that change #11 was a  recommendation from Senator                                                               
Begich to  account for the fact  that parents may not  be capable                                                               
of reading  written notification, so a  more expansive definition                                                               
of notification was used.                                                                                                       
     Change #11: Account for the potential illiteracy of parents                                                                
     or guardians when requiring notification to parents                                                                        
9:48:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE suggested  that, without  adding to  the fiscal                                                               
note  but with  never giving  up on  folks, adding  a section  to                                                               
direct parents with literacy issues  to existing resources. It is                                                               
difficult to  help a child  when parents are  having difficulties                                                               
reading. He asked  if the committee has thought  about making the                                                               
bill  more   comprehensive  in  directing  parents   to  literacy                                                               
assistance that might help the entire family.                                                                                   
SENATOR BEGICH  said that is a  fabulous idea. He would  be happy                                                               
to work  on legislation about  adult illiteracy. That could  be a                                                               
stand-alone bill, but it is a very good point.                                                                                  
SENATOR HUGHES said that she had  the very same thought about how                                                               
to help  the parents. It could  be simple for now  without adding                                                               
to the  fiscal note.  If districts  are aware  of it,  they could                                                               
provide  resources to  direct  parents to  where  they could  get                                                               
help. This  would not  add to  the fiscal note.  She is  not sure                                                               
what the resources are, but the committee should find out.                                                                      
CHAIR HOLLAND  shared that he thinks  it is a great  idea. He has                                                               
known people  involved with adult illiteracy.  There are programs                                                               
out there. It can be a long process to teach an adult to read.                                                                  
MR. KING  said that  change #12 adds  additional language  at the                                                               
request of Senator  Micciche to ensure parents  are more actively                                                               
involved in  their children's reading improvement  plans. Page 29                                                               
of  Section  33 (k)  talks  about  a  third  grader who  did  not                                                               
progress to  fourth grade  or who did  progress to  fourth grade.                                                               
There is a  call for additional services. Paragraph 4  is about a                                                               
plan  for  reading at  home  in  the  agreement with  parents  or                                                               
guardians. It was already pulling  parents into that conversation                                                               
and  progression plan  if a  child with  a reading  deficiency is                                                               
retained or progressed.  The idea is that  similar language would                                                               
be  included about  all identified  reading deficiencies  issues,                                                               
not only about  whether a child is retained or  promoted with the                                                               
deficiency. This points  parents to resources and  allows them to                                                               
have coaching opportunities with the  district. In final form, it                                                               
will be up  to districts to decide what that  looks look, but the                                                               
bill is calling for more participation.                                                                                         
     Change #12: Add language that encourages parents to be more                                                                
     actively involved in their child's reading improvement plan                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH said this is  where a phrase about guiding parents                                                               
to  resources  could be  included.  It  would simply  direct  the                                                               
school  districts,  if they  identify  a  parent with  a  reading                                                               
deficiency, to guide the parent to resources.                                                                                   
SENATOR MICCICHE  said that page  33 is an additional  area about                                                               
creating partnerships and  there are other locations  in the bill                                                               
like that.  He recounted a  story of  helping an employee  in his                                                               
50s  with  literacy  problems.   People  worked  collectively  to                                                               
improve his literacy and set his  world on fire with his kids and                                                               
MR. KING said  that throughout the bill,  there are opportunities                                                               
for members  of educational team  to make decisions  when parents                                                               
do not  participate in the  process. Based on  the recommendation                                                               
made in  testimony, the responsibility  about promotion  has been                                                               
shifted to the superintendent or designee of the superintendent.                                                                
     Change #13: When a parent does not participate, shift                                                                      
     responsibility    for    promotion    decisions    to    the                                                               
     superintendent or designee                                                                                                 
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  if the  bill  is still  sticking with  the                                                               
wider definition  of parent,  so it  could include  stepparent or                                                               
extended family who may be responsible for the child.                                                                           
MR. KING said there was no  change to the definition of parent or                                                               
guardian. Also, in  the situation where a parent  simply misses a                                                               
meeting,  there  is  language  that  allows  the  meeting  to  be                                                               
rescheduled. If the  decision for retention was  made without the                                                               
parent's involvement  and the parent  does want that child  to be                                                               
promoted, there is an ability  for an appeal and reinstitution of                                                               
that process.                                                                                                                   
MR. KING said  that change #14 was a request  from Senator Hughes                                                               
to make it more explicit that  the school districts should try to                                                               
catch  students up  to  their peer  group, but  only  if that  is                                                               
requested.  There  could be  situations  where  parents might  be                                                               
comfortable with the lack of promotion.                                                                                         
     Change #14: Establish a roadmap for mid-year promotion, if                                                                 
9:57:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  asked if the  bill addresses students who  may be                                                               
doing well  in math staying with  their cohort or will  that be a                                                               
district decision.                                                                                                              
MR. KING  replied that is  not explicitly addressed in  the bill,                                                               
so it  will be a  district decision  about how to  handle delayed                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH  said   that  a  number  of   districts  do  have                                                               
bifurcated processes or policies.  Those policies are deferential                                                               
to the  students' ability to  achieve in whatever class,  so that                                                               
does exist in a number of districts now.                                                                                        
MR. KING said the last  change is a simplification throughout the                                                               
bill to make  sure all the new programs being  implemented by the                                                               
bill  are being  treated equally  in terms  of the  efficacy test                                                               
that is made in year 2031, prior  to the sunset in 2032. The idea                                                               
is that for  all of the changes  that cost money or  put a burden                                                               
on  school  districts, if  they  are  not  working, there  is  an                                                               
automatic  offramp the  legislature can  take without  taking any                                                               
other  action, but  the  bill requires  the  department to  bring                                                               
something  to the  legislature.  His impression  is  that a  bill                                                               
introduced  by  the governor  would  accompany  that report  that                                                               
suggests what those changes would be.                                                                                           
     Change #15: Align the sunset dates, incorporate all the                                                                    
     bill's changes in the sunset, and establish a required                                                                     
     report to the legislature prior to sunset date.                                                                            
SENATOR  MICCICHE  said he  requested  an  updated chart  on  the                                                               
effective date  matrix. He encourages  the committee  to consider                                                               
only sunsetting the  funding and not the policy. He  hopes to not                                                               
see  a sunset.  He hopes  the bill  is remarkably  effective. The                                                               
committee  put in  an enormous  amount  of work--Senator  Begich,                                                               
Senator  Hughes, DEED,  the governor's  office, Senator  Holland,                                                               
the folks  on the committee. This  is good policy. He  would hope                                                               
they consider sunsetting the funding  but not the policy. Even if                                                               
this  sunsets someday,  there  are districts  that  will use  the                                                               
standards to  improve what  they deliver  going forward,  even if                                                               
the funding sunsets.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  BEGICH said  he  commends the  chair  for addressing  an                                                               
issue  he brought  up over  and over  during the  prior sectional                                                               
analysis, which  is consistency. He  hasn't seen the  language of                                                               
the committee  substitute yet, but throughout  the description of                                                               
the  changes he  sees an  effort to  make it  a consistent  bill,                                                               
which  strengthens  it. Throughout  the  process,  the chair  has                                                               
identified weaknesses in language from  prior bills, whether SB 8                                                               
or SB  42 or SB 111.  In general, Senator Begich  feels confident                                                               
about  the  direction  of  the  bill,  although  he  will  be  in                                                               
opposition to the sunset dates.  He and Senator Hughes have asked                                                               
for robust reporting, not simple  reporting, so they know what is                                                               
working  and  how  it  is  working.   He  is  not  sure  that  is                                                               
incorporated in  the committee  substitute. If  it is  not, maybe                                                               
there is a  way to look at  that. He would like  to have language                                                               
from the department that would  describe what robust review would                                                               
include. One  of the  earlier versions of  the bill  talked about                                                               
paying for  an evaluation on a  regular basis, not just  the last                                                               
year  before  the  sunset.  That  robust  accountability  ensures                                                               
resources  are  being  invested  in  an  appropriate  and  proper                                                               
manner. With  robust language, that  reporting might  satisfy the                                                               
sunset  date issue.  With robust,  consequential evaluation,  the                                                               
sunset would  not be needed.  He will  not oppose this  bill just                                                               
because  it  has  sunset  dates  given that  they  appear  to  be                                                               
consistently  applied.  A   robust  accountability  process  that                                                               
perhaps   the  commissioner   could   suggest   could  meet   the                                                               
legislators'  responsibility to  ensure  accountability with  the                                                               
people's  dollar and  at the  same time  doing what  they can  to                                                               
improve the legacy of education in the state.                                                                                   
10:03:02 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  MICCICHE  said he  didn't  hear  any comment  about  his                                                               
suggestion that  the policy survive.  He asked if anyone  has any                                                               
comments  on that.  He would  hate to  see the  entire effort  go                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH said that Senator  Micciche has the right approach                                                               
if there  is going to be  a sunset clause. Sunset  the funds, not                                                               
the  policy. If  the  funding  sunsets but  the  policy stays  in                                                               
place, legislators will hear that  it becomes an unfunded mandate                                                               
of sorts, but none of these policies are so prescriptive.                                                                       
SENATOR  MICCICHE   said  that  the  performance   of  the  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula  School District  because of  its reading  intervention                                                               
program  is well  above  every other  larger  community and  only                                                               
topped  by Galena  and Southeast  communities. The  standards for                                                               
those programs are important. If  something does go wrong and the                                                               
funding  does sunset,  it  may help  drag  others into  voluntary                                                               
reading  intervention programs  and  perhaps  early education  as                                                               
well. It  is working  in his district.  He was  surprised himself                                                               
when he saw the numbers on the  PEAKS test and saw that Kenai was                                                               
that high in comparison to other large municipalities.                                                                          
MR. KING  said there  are annual  reporting requirements  for all                                                               
components in the bill. The idea  is that they would roll up into                                                               
a  final report  to the  legislature  on how  the program  should                                                               
progress.  The sunsetting  of  the  policy is  to  make that  the                                                               
default  rather than  try  to  create policy  that  takes away  a                                                               
program  once it  is created,  which is  always challenging.  The                                                               
default is  that the  program goes away  unless it  is continued.                                                               
The attorney  he spoke to said  the repeal of the  sunsets if the                                                               
programs  are  working  is  a  straightforward  process.  Through                                                               
uncodified  law,  those sections  are  removed  before they  take                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH said  they  all  get an  annual  report from  the                                                               
department.  He  is  talking  about   a  more  robust  evaluation                                                               
component that  makes recommendations  annually or  biennially to                                                               
the education  committees of the  legislature. With Dr.  Burk, he                                                               
was  impressed  with the  relatively  consistent  review of  what                                                               
Mississippi is doing and Mississippi  is constantly retooling and                                                               
improving.  That struck  him as  something worth  considering. He                                                               
would defer  to the department  to see  if that is  feasible. His                                                               
idea  is not  a simply  annual report  but the  robust discussion                                                               
from  a group  like  Northwest Lab  of "are  we  really making  a                                                               
difference here"  and "are we  turning the curve." Those  are the                                                               
things that the  committee is fighting for.  There is potentially                                                               
a way to  do that simply with language incorporated  in the bill.                                                               
It could  add a couple hundred  thousand to the fiscal  note, but                                                               
that  would be  well-invested money  to tell  the legislators  if                                                               
they are doing the right thing.                                                                                                 
SENATOR MICCICHE shared that he  has been talking about this bill                                                               
with  many educators  around the  state. Legislators  assume that                                                               
educators expect them  to send the money but perhaps  stay out of                                                               
expecting  better  outcomes.  The  message  he  is  getting  that                                                               
educators  like  expectations  that  might  help  them  with  the                                                               
product. He was surprised to hear  that, but this bill helps with                                                               
that. This is sort of a blueprint  for some things they can do as                                                               
an  education  committee  for  further  expectations  that  might                                                               
actually help  local districts deliver better  outcomes for kids.                                                               
He was surprised  to hear that from educators.  He always thought                                                               
they wanted the legislature to send  the check and keep its hands                                                               
off  of what  educators do,  but that  is not  the message  he is                                                               
CHAIR HOLLAND said he agrees  with that. The committee cannot fix                                                               
education.  It  must  be  fixed in  districts  and  schools  with                                                               
parents, teachers,  and students  involved. He does  believe this                                                               
bill will provide the tools that can make some progress.                                                                        
SENATOR STEVENS said this is  a complex but important subject. He                                                               
appreciates the effort of so  many people. They have gone through                                                               
several years  of trying to  figure this  out. There was  a large                                                               
taskforce established a couple of  years ago. This is exactly the                                                               
way good legislation is written.  He thanked the chair for taking                                                               
charge of this and seeing it through to this point.                                                                             
10:10:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  HOLLAND said  his office  will  disseminate the  committee                                                               
substitute  as  soon as  it  is  available.  He  held SB  111  in                                                               
10:11:17 AM                                                                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Holland  adjourned the Senate Education  Standing Committee                                                               
at 10:11 a.m.                                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
EDC_Scott Jepsen Board Application_Redacted.pdf SEDC 4/9/2021 9:00:00 AM
EDC_Scott Jepsen Resume _Redacted.pdf SEDC 4/9/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 111 Summary of Requested Changes.pdf SEDC 4/9/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 111