Legislature(1995 - 1996)

1996-01-08 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2371
HB 398                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO.  398 by the House Rules Committee by request of                 
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
An Act relating to teacher evaluation, teacher tenure, teacher                
continuing employment status, teacher layoff and rehire rights, and            
the rights of teachers to obtain review of decisions of nonretention           
or dismissal; relating to public access to certain information on,             
and public participation in, public school collective bargaining;              
and providing for an effective date.                                           
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social         
Services, State Affairs and Finance Committees.                                
The following fiscal note applies:                                             
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Education, 1/8/96                                   
The Governors transmittal letter, dated January 8, 1996, appears               
Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                         
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am     
transmitting a bill that addresses a number of issues related to               
promoting professional excellence in education.                                
Last summer I vetoed similar legislation that was divisive and did not         
adequately address the real problems that face our educational system.         
With my veto, I promised an opportunity to seek a compromise with              
which the Alaska educational family would agree.  A committee met              
and provided me with a proposal that addresses all of the issues               
contained in the vetoed legislation and that additionally highlights the       
importance of the evaluation process.  This legislation lengthens the          
probationary period for teachers; supports professional competence as          
a basis for achieving and maintaining "continuing employment status";          
focuses on a strong supervision and evaluation process that provides           

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2372
HB 398                                                                       
special support for teachers new to the profession; revises appeal             
procedures regarding dismissal and nonretention decisions; provides for        
the development of locally determined procedures to address teacher            
layoff and recall; and increases public access to information on the           
collective bargaining process.                                                 
This legislation is the product of the efforts of parents, school board        
members, teachers, administrators, Department of Education                     
employees, and others.  While these groups often voice different views         
and perspectives, in this instance they worked together and produced           
a bill that I believe begins to improve education in this state.               
The bill requires each school district to adopt a professional assessment      
system to be used to evaluate that districts teachers.  (Under existing        
law, "teacher" includes administrators and others).  The assessment            
systems will be developed with input from parents, students,                   
community members, classroom teachers, and administrators and will             
focus on improving the performance of the professional staff.  The             
assessment systems will contain provisions specifically designed to            
assist teachers new to the profession.                                         
The bill replaces the current statutory term "tenure" with the phrase          
"continuing employment status" and increases from two to three the             
number of years that a teacher must be continuously employed with a            
district before acquiring continuing employment status.  Although              
tenured teachers have always been subject to dismissal or nonretention         
for unsatisfactory performance, tenure nevertheless connotes to many           
a right to lifelong employment in a school district.  Under this bill, a       
teacher earns a right to continuing employment status in a district by         
receiving a satisfactory evaluation in a third year of continuous              
employment with the district, among other requirements. The bill also          
clarifies that, before acquiring continuing employment status, a teacher       
is on probationary status.  Several statutes are amended in the bill           
without substantive change in order to replace "tenure" with                   
"continuing employment status" or to add the term "probationary."  I           
believe that use of the new phrase to describe the right to continued          
employment, coupled with the important substantive changes made by             
this bill, signals a healthy shift in focus in the area of teacher             

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2373
HB 398                                                                       
The bill permits school districts to place continuing employment status        
teachers on layoff status as a result of financial emergency or a              
decrease in enrollment.  Before such teachers are placed on layoff             
status, however, all probationary teachers must first be nonretained           
(unless there is no qualified continuing employment status teacher to          
replace a probationary teacher). Local districts will adopt reduction-in-      
force plans that identify procedures related to layoff and rehire.  The        
bill also identifies several routes for review of a local boards decision      
to dismiss or nonretain a teacher and gives the public more access to          
collective bargaining information.                                             
A sectional description of the bill is available from the Department of        
I urge your prompt consideration and passage of this important bill.           
							Tony Knowles