Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/16/2022 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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09:04:57 AM Start
09:05:32 AM SB225
10:30:22 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 16, 2022                                                                                         
                           9:04 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                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 225                                                                                                             
"An  Act   relating  to  a  paraprofessional   training  program;                                                               
creating  a  teacher  resident certificate;  creating  a  teacher                                                               
residency program;  relating to  requirements to issue  a teacher                                                               
certificate;  relating to  subject-matter expert  limited teacher                                                               
certificates; relating to  limited teacher certificates; creating                                                               
a  teacher  registered  apprenticeship program;  and  creating  a                                                               
teacher registered apprenticeship program fund."                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 225                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TEACHER REGISTERED APPRENTICE PROGRAMS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): EDUCATION                                                                                                           
03/04/22       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/04/22       (S)       EDC, L&C, FIN                                                                                          
03/07/22       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/07/22       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/07/22       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/09/22       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/09/22       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/22       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/14/22       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/14/22       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/14/22       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/16/22       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
PATRICK MAYER, Superintendent                                                                                                   
Aleutians East Borough School District                                                                                          
Sand Point, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 225.                                                                        
TERRI WALKER, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Northwest Arctic Borough School District                                                                                        
Buckland, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 225.                                                                        
BOBBY BOLEN, Superintendent                                                                                                     
Bering Straits School District                                                                                                  
Unalakleet, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 225.                                                                        
KIMBERLY HANKINS, Superintendent                                                                                                
Lower Kuskokwim School District                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 225.                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
9:04:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ROGER   HOLLAND  called  the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:04  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Begich, Micciche, Stevens,  Hughes and Chair                                                               
         SB 225-TEACHER REGISTERED APPRENTICE PROGRAMS                                                                      
                [Contains Discussion of SB 111]                                                                                 
9:05:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration  of SENATE BILL NO. 225                                                               
"An  Act   relating  to  a  paraprofessional   training  program;                                                               
creating  a  teacher  resident certificate;  creating  a  teacher                                                               
residency program;  relating to  requirements to issue  a teacher                                                               
certificate;  relating to  subject-matter expert  limited teacher                                                               
certificates; relating to  limited teacher certificates; creating                                                               
a  teacher  registered  apprenticeship program;  and  creating  a                                                               
teacher registered apprenticeship program fund."                                                                                
CHAIR HOLLAND said  this is the fourth hearing on  SB 225. Today,                                                               
four rural  school district superintendents will  provide insight                                                               
into their  district's problems. He asked  the superintendents to                                                               
introduce themselves.                                                                                                           
9:06:37 AM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  MAYER,  Superintendent,  Aleutians East  Borough  School                                                               
District, Sand Point, Alaska, introduced himself.                                                                               
9:06:59 AM                                                                                                                    
TERRI  WALKER, Superintendent,  Northwest  Arctic Borough  School                                                               
District, Buckland, Alaska, introduced herself.                                                                                 
9:07:40 AM                                                                                                                    
BOBBY  BOLEN,  Superintendent,  Bering Straits  School  District,                                                               
Unalakleet, Alaska, introduced himself.                                                                                         
9:07:56 AM                                                                                                                    
KIMBERLY   HANKINS,   Superintendent,  Lower   Kuskokwim   School                                                               
District, Bethel, Alaska, introduced herself.                                                                                   
CHAIR  HOLLAND  requested  that each  superintendent  answer  the                                                               
questions posed and  describe the problems they  face when hiring                                                               
qualified classroom teachers.                                                                                                   
9:08:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SUPERINTENDENT  MAYER  said  supply  and  demand  is  a  problem,                                                               
especially in  special education, math, and  science. The expense                                                               
of getting  teachers to  rural Alaska is  also an  issue. Airfare                                                               
can cost  $1,000 round  trip, and  there can  be issues  with the                                                               
ferry system.  A defined benefit  would decrease  teacher tourism                                                               
by  incentivizing teachers  to  stay.  He gave  an  example of  a                                                               
reading teacher  who stayed for  five years but would  be leaving                                                               
after her  sixth year. He  jested that reading teachers  are like                                                               
unicorns,  very hard  to find.  He stated  that in  the Aleutians                                                               
East Borough  School District  (AESB), there is  also a  need for                                                               
21st-century infrastructure  such as high-speed  internet. Rising                                                               
prices are  also a concern.  A gallon  of milk is  eight dollars,                                                               
and  housing  takes  $12,000 from  a  teacher's  salary.  Quality                                                               
mentors and  teachers are  becoming more  difficult to  find. For                                                               
example, on the  Alaska Teacher Placement website,  there were 28                                                               
applicants   for  elementary   education,  but   only  two   were                                                               
certified. In 2021  there were four vacancies, and  in 2022 there                                                               
were eleven. It is exponentially  harder to recruit teachers from                                                               
urban areas to remote areas.                                                                                                    
9:12:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SUPERINTENDENT   WALKER   said   she   agreed   with   everything                                                               
Superintendent  Mayer stated.  It  is difficult  to find  quality                                                               
candidates who are willing to leave  their homes to work in rural                                                               
areas where  they often must  share housing with  other teachers.                                                               
Kotzebue  has a  lack  of housing  for sale  and  renting a  one-                                                               
bedroom apartment  is $1,800  per month.  Last year  the district                                                               
had  twelve  unfilled  positions.   Salaries  are  no  longer  as                                                               
enticing  because they  have  not  kept up  with  those of  other                                                               
SUPERINTENDENT  BOLEN  said  that  in the  Bering  Strait  School                                                               
District (BSSD),  a gallon  of milk costs  $15, and  the district                                                               
has  about  65  teacher  openings   yearly.  SpEd  and  counselor                                                               
positions  are  difficult  to fill.  Alaska's  beginning  teacher                                                               
salary  is  only  $2,000  more   than  Washington  state.  It  is                                                               
difficult  to  convince teachers  to  leave  their hometowns  and                                                               
build  a   career  in  an   area  where  living   conditions  are                                                               
substandard,  and the  cost of  living  is five  times more.  The                                                               
district is  trying to  develop triplex  housing to  avoid paying                                                               
premium prices for land.                                                                                                        
9:17:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SUPERINTENDENT HANKINS said she is  facing the same challenges as                                                               
her  colleagues. She  said the  Lower  Kuskokwim School  District                                                               
(LKSD) loses teachers to road  system school districts every year                                                               
and recruiting is  made difficult by salaries that  are no longer                                                               
competitive. She stated that in  Bethel, milk costs $9 per gallon                                                               
and apples  are $5.49 per  pound. However, produce is  not always                                                               
available in villages in her district.                                                                                          
9:20:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE  asked  what  kind  of  partnerships  might  be                                                               
available    with   municipalities,    villages,   or    regional                                                               
organizations that  want their  children educated  over profiting                                                               
from the sale of land.                                                                                                          
9:21:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SUPERINTENDENT BOLEN replied that grants  are filled out with the                                                               
Alaska Housing Federation, and the  Bering Strait School District                                                               
(BSSD)  works with  tribal organizations  to try  and find  land.                                                               
Recently the BSSD returned some land  to a village that needed it                                                               
for housing. Kawerak  Inc. and the Rural  Alaska Community Action                                                               
Program (RurAL  CAP) are partners  with the Bering  Strait School                                                               
District (BSSD) but  do not have available land. There  is a lack                                                               
of  land  as  villages  grow. Having  outsiders  educate  village                                                               
children  is not  a big  incentive for  land-holding entities  to                                                               
offer discounts to the school district.                                                                                         
9:22:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked, of all  the problems rural districts face,                                                               
what would be  the most important thing the  legislature could do                                                               
to help get qualified teachers into rural schools.                                                                              
9:23:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MAYER said  that in  answer to  Senator Micciche's  question                                                               
about housing, the Aleutian East  Borough School District (AEBSD)                                                               
has housing  for teachers that  is provided by  tribes, villages,                                                               
and  the government  through subsidized  housing.  It works  with                                                               
partners  to  provide a  teacher  package.  AEBSD offers  quality                                                               
housing, but  the cost is  high and reduces the  teacher's annual                                                               
salary.  In  answer  to  Senator   Steven's  question,  the  most                                                               
important  thing  the  legislature  can do  is  increase  funding                                                               
within  the base  student allocation  (BSA)  as school  districts                                                               
face rising operating costs.                                                                                                    
9:25:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked the other superintendents  whether the BSA                                                               
is the single  most important way the legislature  can help rural                                                               
9:25:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOLEN  said the BSA,  and defined  benefits are not  the only                                                               
things  the state  could  do. The  legislature  could help  rural                                                               
districts by finding a way  to subsidize expenses, such as travel                                                               
and shipping if salaries are not competitively increased.                                                                       
9:27:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HANKINS said  that LKSD  owns  most of  the teacher  housing                                                               
within  the district.  The average  rent for  teachers is  $900 -                                                               
$1,200 per month.  LKSD does not own housing in  the Bethel South                                                               
area  where rent  is $2,000  -  $2,700 per  month, not  including                                                               
utilities. Teachers once moved from  outer villages to the hub of                                                               
Bethel  when positions  became available,  but that  tendency has                                                               
reversed due to the higher costs  of living in Bethel. The school                                                               
district reaches  out to  the community  to assist  teachers when                                                               
there is  a housing  shortage. LKSD  has good  relationships with                                                               
the tribes,  which strengthened during  the pandemic.  She agreed                                                               
with Senator  Stevens that  a general increase  in the  BSA would                                                               
help school districts since every  district has particular needs.                                                               
Changes  to the  retirement system  also need  to be  considered,                                                               
such as having a defined benefit.                                                                                               
9:29:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  WALKER said  the Northwest  Arctic  Borough School  District                                                               
(NWABSD)  provides subsidized  housing  to  village teachers  for                                                               
$900 - $1,200  per month. Kotzebue has a  subsidized ten-plex for                                                               
new teachers, who  must find another place to live  at the end of                                                               
their  first  year.  Leaving the  subsidized  ten-plex  increases                                                               
their  monthly rent  from $900  to $1,800.  Many teachers  do not                                                               
renew their contracts  because of the increased  cost. She stated                                                               
that  employee insurance  benefits would  increase by  $2,000 per                                                               
individual, costing  the district $650,000. The  district is also                                                               
facing negotiations  for certified and classified  positions, and                                                               
staff  salaries  will be  adjusted  for  inflation regardless  of                                                               
whether  the BSA  increases. Inflation-proofing  the  BSA is  the                                                               
most  important thing  the legislature  could do  to help  school                                                               
9:32:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  asked the superintendents if  the central concept                                                               
of SB 225 to "grow your  own" apprenticeship would assist them in                                                               
retaining teachers.  He also asked  whether a secondary  focus of                                                               
support  through  a  teacher   recruitment  and  retention  grant                                                               
program could  be beneficial since  money for  subsidized housing                                                               
decreases the operating funds available  for instruction. He said                                                               
a  wide  variety of  solutions  are  necessary because  education                                                               
faces  many   problems.  He  cautioned   superintendents  against                                                               
putting all  their eggs  in the BSA  basket because  the governor                                                               
intents to veto the increase in the absence of a reading bill.                                                                  
9:35:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   HANKINS  replied   that  "grow   your  own"   programs  are                                                               
beneficial,  and  LKSD  has had  several.  LKSD  has  established                                                               
practices  that support  teacher retention  and recruitment.  She                                                               
stated  that  rural  school  districts   that  do  not  focus  on                                                               
retention first would  be missing the mark;  retention limits the                                                               
need  to   recruit.  To  retain  teachers,   LKSD  offers  robust                                                               
professional    development,     state    mentorship    programs,                                                               
instructional coaches,  the Supporting Teachers Across  the Years                                                               
(STAY)  program,  the  Lower Kuskokwim  Rise  program,  and  exit                                                               
surveys to learn how to  improve retention. For example, distance                                                               
from family  is a  reason teachers give  for leaving.  Since LKSD                                                               
cannot  control distance,  it focuses  on staff  collaboration to                                                               
build employee support.                                                                                                         
MS.  HANKINS  said  part  of   retention  is  considering  how  a                                                               
candidate would fit  in the community because  when teachers feel                                                               
they  belong, they  stay.  All new  teachers  can participate  in                                                               
culture camps. The TEACH, Two  and Done, community career ladder,                                                               
and LKSD scholarship  are "grow your own" programs  that LKSD has                                                               
successfully developed over the  past fifteen years. The programs                                                               
reduce staff  turnover and  provide staff  for the  dual language                                                               
and cultural  immersion program. LKSD's "grow  your own" programs                                                               
have produced 28 certified teachers.  LKSD also offers assistance                                                               
for  teachers to  receive endorsements  in high-need  areas. LKSD                                                               
also has an  education career pathway for  middle school students                                                               
that encourages  entering the  teaching profession.  She supports                                                               
offsetting  costs through  a  teacher  retention and  recruitment                                                               
9:41:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked if Ms.  Hankins supported SB 111 because the                                                               
reads bill is a way to increase the BSA.                                                                                        
9:42:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HANKINSS  replied that  LKSD supports  expanding high-quality                                                               
early  education for  all  children in  Alaska  and the  targeted                                                               
investment  of effective  evidence-based  K  - 3rd-grade  reading                                                               
instruction.   She  appreciates   the   addition  of   culturally                                                               
responsive  language  and  other  amendments made  by  the  House                                                               
Education Committee  and stated  her belief that  they strengthen                                                               
and  protect  dual  language and  immersion  programs.  She  then                                                               
described areas of SB 111 that LKSD already addresses.                                                                          
9:43:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOLEN  said the  BSSD has  made efforts  to "grow  their own"                                                               
teachers.  It applied  for  and received  two  $7 million  grants                                                               
through a  foundation. BSSD allows  paraprofessionals to go  on a                                                               
year-long   sabbatical  to   become   teachers   because  it   is                                                               
challenging  to work  full-time and  attend school.  The district                                                               
pays for  their salary, tuition, and  other educational expenses.                                                               
Seven  BSSD  paraprofessionals  received  education  degrees  and                                                               
became teachers.  The legislature  could assist  school districts                                                               
by providing  grant support  so school  district staff  can focus                                                               
time on other issues.                                                                                                           
MR. BOLEN stated that BSSD  utilizes Educator Rising to encourage                                                               
high  school  students to  enter  teaching.  However, BSSD  still                                                               
loses education  students to larger  districts after  they become                                                               
teachers  because of  housing  costs  and outside  opportunities.                                                               
Superintendents  have  organized  a mentorship  program  for  new                                                               
superintendents  through the  Alaska Superintendents  Association                                                               
(ASA)  and  Alaska Counsel  of  School  Administrators (ACSA).  A                                                               
similar model  should be used  to support local  teachers because                                                               
school districts are now asked  to pay for in-person mentors. The                                                               
legislature could fund  a mentor program for  rural areas because                                                               
in-person mentorship is better than online.                                                                                     
MR.  BOLEN  said teachers  at  Title  I schools  receive  federal                                                               
student loan  forgiveness. Additional  loan forgiveness  from the                                                               
state for teaching at a  rural school longer would be beneficial.                                                               
He  opined that  state forgiveness  should be  for all  certified                                                               
personnel  because administrators  are not  eligible for  federal                                                               
government reimbursement  unless they teach in  the classroom. He                                                               
described the  longevity bonus system  that BSSD  established for                                                               
teachers who stay three, five,  seven, and ten years. The bonuses                                                               
are paid from general funds  that BSSD then replaces by acquiring                                                               
outside  grants.  He  stated   he  partners  with  Superintendent                                                               
Hankins to  run a  Gear Up  grant that encourages  kids to  go to                                                               
college and  return to  the village.  Rural school  districts are                                                               
finding  and  acquiring grants  and  then  running the  programs.                                                               
Grant  assistance   from  the  legislature  or   state  would  be                                                               
beneficial to improving student  educational outcomes by allowing                                                               
school districts  to focus on  instructional programs.  The first                                                               
question village  students ask  a teacher is,  "How long  are you                                                               
going to stay?" Student engagement depends on teacher stability.                                                                
9:51:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MAYER stated  he  supports "grow  your  own" programs.  Both                                                               
students  and  employees in  the  Aleutians  East Borough  School                                                               
District (AEBSD)  are interested in programs  to become teachers.                                                               
He opined  that a substantive  teacher recruitment  and retention                                                               
program  is  worthy of  consideration.  He  supports SB  111  and                                                               
stated  his belief  that other  superintendents also  support it.                                                               
AEBSD was  awarded the  Comprehensive Literacy  State Development                                                               
(CLSD) grant and  put a reading program in  place. He appreciates                                                               
the  governor's priorities.  As  superintendents responsible  for                                                               
running the school districts and  providing for students' safety,                                                               
well-being,  and  instruction,  they  understand  the  governor's                                                               
concerns. He also supports new  principal cohorts. There are many                                                               
ideas  to  move school  districts  in  the right  direction,  but                                                               
funding for the BSA is critical.                                                                                                
9:54:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. WALKER said NWABSD supports  "grow your own" programs. NWABSD                                                               
utilizes  Educators  Rising,  and   three  students  from  NWABSD                                                               
qualified for nationals.  She stated that when  students leave to                                                               
attend  college,   many  do  not   return  to   their  hometowns.                                                               
Paraprofessionals  are the  individuals likely  to remain  a long                                                               
time with  a district once  they become  teachers. Correspondence                                                               
programs  enabling them  to obtain  an  education degree  without                                                               
leaving home would allow them  to become teachers since many have                                                               
family responsibilities and cannot  leave their villages. A grant                                                               
program to fund a cohort  of twelve individuals would be helpful.                                                               
All districts  support SB  111 and  understand the  importance of                                                               
early childhood education.                                                                                                      
9:56:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked the superintendents  to elaborate  on how                                                               
successful  teacher recruitment  and  retention affect  students'                                                               
learning  outcomes.  He  stated  his belief  that  tying  teacher                                                               
recruitment  and  retention  to   learning  outcomes  is  key  to                                                               
understanding  the discussion.  He  said  some legislators  think                                                               
Alaska has a  higher BSA than other states yet  have lower scores                                                               
and therefore want to withhold additional funding.                                                                              
9:57:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MAYER  said there  is a  direct relationship  between teacher                                                               
retention and student learning. When  teachers remain at a school                                                               
for many years, students learn  their expectations. Continuity of                                                               
instruction is  lost when village students  experience three math                                                               
teachers  in  five  years.  Relationships  are  also  damaged  as                                                               
students realize teachers  are not a part of  their community. It                                                               
is a big issue.                                                                                                                 
9:59:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  WALKER said  retention matters  because when  teachers first                                                               
arrive in rural  Alaska, they do not know the  culture and do not                                                               
connect with  students by  using the  curriculum.   She graduated                                                               
from a local  village where scores do not determine  the value of                                                               
a child.                                                                                                                        
10:00:48 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  BOYLEN   said  the   key  to   educating  all   children  is                                                               
establishing relationships  built on trust so  that children feel                                                               
safe and secure.  Sometimes the only safe and stable  person in a                                                               
child's life is a classroom teacher.  He said that upon moving to                                                               
Alaska, he taught in Savoonga  for seven years. When someone from                                                               
Savoonga sees him  on the street, they ask him  when he is coming                                                               
home because he  became an accepted member of  the community, and                                                               
hopefully impacted students' lives.                                                                                             
10:03:18 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  HANKINS  said  multiple  studies  find  that  lower  teacher                                                               
turnover leads to higher student  achievement and vice versa. She                                                               
said she considers  this finding when working  to retain teachers                                                               
because   inconsistent  staffing   decreases  student   learning.                                                               
Building relationships  with a community  and school  takes time.                                                               
Building trust  with students who  have experienced  trauma takes                                                               
even longer. At LKSD, high  teacher turnover often means a school                                                               
is hiring  less experienced  teachers or  operating understaffed.                                                               
She said  that in the  last five years, she  has yet to  fill all                                                               
the positions at LKSD.                                                                                                          
10:06:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  MICCICHI  stated  that  the  superintendents'  responses                                                               
would make  an excellent  op-ed because it  would explain  to the                                                               
public that  more money is  needed to fund  better relationships,                                                               
continuity, success, and housing. More  money is needed to create                                                               
better outcomes for kids, not teachers.                                                                                         
10:07:35 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES opined  that  the goal  of  the Senate  Education                                                               
Committee is to  prepare students to enter the  world as educated                                                               
as  possible,  which  makes   focusing  on  academic  achievement                                                               
important. Therefore,  based on  what the  superintendents stated                                                               
about student-teacher relationships being  the key to success and                                                               
teacher   turnover    rates   affecting    student   achievement,                                                               
recruitment and retention  of quality teachers should  be the top                                                               
priority   for   improving   achievement.  She   asked   if   the                                                               
superintendents agreed with her statement.                                                                                      
10:09:59 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. BOLEN  replied that  he agreed with  the statement.  Only 107                                                               
candidates  registered to  attend  the  Alaska Teacher  Placement                                                               
(ATP) fair in  Anchorage; there used to  be hundreds. Recruitment                                                               
takes time and money away from  focusing on other matters such as                                                               
curriculum,  instruction, and  relationship  development. He  has                                                               
spent fourteen  days traveling  to find  teachers and  only hired                                                               
10:11:3.7 AM                                                                                                                  
MS.  WALKER stated  that  recruitment and  retention  are key  to                                                               
high-quality  learning  short-term.  She  said  recruitment  will                                                               
become less  of a  problem twenty  years from  now as  "grow your                                                               
own" programs are incorporated into school districts.                                                                           
10:13:11 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND asked  the superintendents if SB  225 would benefit                                                               
their school districts and if they would like anything.                                                                         
10:13:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  MAYER said  that the  big problem  that needs  addressing is                                                               
teacher  tourism.  He wondered  whether  being  able to  transfer                                                               
contributions  to a  defined  benefit plan  after  a teacher  has                                                               
taught in Alaska  or at a school district longer  than five years                                                               
might offer a solution. He  opined that the problem of recruiting                                                               
and retaining  teachers could not be  resolved without increasing                                                               
the BSA.                                                                                                                        
10:15:22 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. HANKINS stated that teacher  retention is critical to student                                                               
learning outcomes.  There are many costs  associated with teacher                                                               
recruitment  and  retention.  Student outcomes  suffer,  and  the                                                               
administration  becomes  fatigued  from  the  constant  cycle  of                                                               
onboarding   new  teachers,   beginning  forward   movement,  and                                                               
returning to onboarding  before progress is made.  An increase in                                                               
the BSA  rather than a  specified allocation is  critical because                                                               
it will  allow districts  to target areas  to best  impact change                                                               
and improve  retention. She stated  that she supports  "grow your                                                               
own" programs  and that LKSD  has experienced success  with them.                                                               
Locally grown  teachers are incredibly valuable  because they are                                                               
from the region, have grown up  in the culture, are familiar with                                                               
the  community, and  have connections.  LKSD  found that  locally                                                               
grown teachers serve  as role models to students  and help mentor                                                               
other staff.                                                                                                                    
10:18:02 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted that  his  wife  is  the director  of  the                                                               
Coalition of Education Equity that  Ms. Hankins mentioned, and he                                                               
receives no benefit from the  conversation. He asked for the work                                                               
by  the Senate  Finance  Committee  to be  looked  at because  it                                                               
incorporates  into SB  111 all  the  cultural competency  changes                                                               
that  the House  made,  including  additional protections  around                                                               
culture that would be valuable.                                                                                                 
10:18:50 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  STEVENS stated  his belief  that local  school districts                                                               
and school boards  know their needs and how to  solve them better                                                               
than a committee or  the state. That is why the  BSA is the right                                                               
place  to  put money.  He  asked  whether teachers  statistically                                                               
remain in-state  when leaving a  district because if  they remain                                                               
in-state, it may be bad for a district but not Alaska.                                                                          
MS.  HANKINS replied  she could  provide the  committee with  the                                                               
results of LKSD's 2021 exit survey.                                                                                             
10:21:01 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  HOLLAND  asked the  superintendents  to  provide in  their                                                               
closing  comments how  many  students and  schools  are in  their                                                               
districts. He  also asked how many  of the schools in  their area                                                               
are isolated from a road system.                                                                                                
MS.  HANKINS  stated there  are  4,000  students in  LKSD,  which                                                               
covers a  land area of 22,000  square miles. LKSD has  29 schools                                                               
in  24 different  locations, most  of which  are grades  K -  12.                                                               
LKSD's hub  is Bethel,  which has six  schools and  is accessible                                                               
via Alaska Airlines. Visiting schools  in her district is done by                                                               
small  plane, boat,  ice road,  and  snow machine,  which is  all                                                               
weather dependent.                                                                                                              
10:23:14 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. BOLEN  said Unalakleet  is the district  office for  BSSD. It                                                               
serves 15 PreK   12th  grade schools that surround Nome. However,                                                               
Nome  itself is  a  district.  All the  schools  are accessed  by                                                               
plane,  except  Diomede,  which residents  reach  by  helicopter.                                                               
Although  located   in  Nome,  Northwestern  Alaska   Career  and                                                               
Technical Center  (NACTEC) is part  of the BSSD. There  are 1,900                                                               
students in PreK    12th grade. BSSD has 250  certified staff and                                                               
280 classified  staff. He  thanked the  committee for  taking the                                                               
time to  hear about rural  Alaska and explore innovative  ways to                                                               
address  concerns.  Both urban  and  rural  schools want  to  see                                                               
students improve  academically. He  said he and  his predecessors                                                               
have found  it disappointing not  to make  academic improvements.                                                               
He supports reading grants from the  state, SB 111, and any other                                                               
program  that  would  positively   impact  students.  He  invited                                                               
legislators to  attend the ASA  legislative fly-in  meetings held                                                               
in Juneau.                                                                                                                      
10:26:50 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WALKER said  NWABSD serves 11 villages, with  Kotzebue as the                                                               
hub. There  are no  roads to  the villages.  Summer travel  is by                                                               
airplane or  boat, and  winter travel is  by air  or snowmachine.                                                               
The  district  covers  39,000  square   miles.  There  are  1,800                                                               
students in  K - 12th grade.  She strongly supports SB  225 as it                                                               
will  help  grow  teachers locally,  which  will  help  stabilize                                                               
turnover    while   increasing    cultural   compatibility    and                                                               
student/teacher relationships.                                                                                                  
10:28:32 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  MAYER said  there are  four schools  in AEBSD  across 12,500                                                               
square miles.  Travel is  by plane,  helicopter, or  ferry. There                                                               
are 230  students in the  district. He thanked the  committee for                                                               
advocating for students.                                                                                                        
10:29:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND stated  that urban and rural  schools were markedly                                                               
different.  Rural  school  concerns  about  high-speed  internet,                                                               
running water, and sewage are  challenges on steroids. He thanked                                                               
the superintendents for the work they do in rural Alaska.                                                                       
10:30:10 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 225 in committee.                                                                                         
10:30:22 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Holland adjourned the Senate Education Committee meeting                                                                  
at 10:30 a.m.                                                                                                                   

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