Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/08/2009 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 59(EDC) Out of Committee
HB 215-STUDENT COUNTS/TEACHERS' SALARIES                                                                                      
9:44:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  215,  "An  Act relating  to  student counts  for                                                               
school  funding purposes;  and  repealing  school experience  for                                                               
salary scales provisions."                                                                                                      
9:44:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON, Alaska State  Legislature, speaking as the                                                               
prime sponsor of HB 215,  paraphrased from the following prepared                                                               
statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     I  have  introduced HB  215  because  we need  to  give                                                                    
     schools additional tools to  provide the best education                                                                    
     Repealing  salary scale  limitations for  out of  state                                                                    
     teachers will  make it easier  to recruit  teachers for                                                                    
     hard to fill positions.                                                                                                    
     This bill will also make  sure schools are doing what's                                                                    
     best for  kids.  I want  to combat high drop  out rates                                                                    
     and I  think averaging student counts  between the fall                                                                    
     and the spring  will help.  I know this  may cause some                                                                    
     grumbling  from  school  districts,  and  I  understand                                                                    
     where  they are  coming from.   But  this is  the right                                                                    
     thing to  do for the  kids, and  we have to  make their                                                                    
     long term education needs our first priority.                                                                              
CHAIR SEATON reminded the committee that this is the first                                                                      
hearing of HB 215, and therefore he has no intention of moving                                                                  
it from committee today.                                                                                                        
9:45:53 AM                                                                                                                    
DANIEL DISTEFANO, Staff, Representative Peggy Wilson, Alaska                                                                    
State Legislature, paraphrased from the following prepared                                                                      
statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     HB 215 will repeal  salary scale limitations for hiring                                                                    
     new  out  of  state  teachers.   Additionally  it  will                                                                    
     average  student  counts  in  the spring  and  fall  to                                                                    
     determine  school  funding  numbers for  the  following                                                                    
     school  year.    We  believe  this  will  help  address                                                                    
     multiple problems facing Alaska's education system.                                                                        
     Specialty  positions, such  as  therapists and  special                                                                    
     needs teachers  are in high demand  in school districts                                                                    
     across  the country  and Alaska  is facing  a shortage.                                                                    
     By allowing  school districts to negotiate  salaries on                                                                    
     a case  by case  basis for out  of state  hires, Alaska                                                                    
     schools will be more  competitive when vying for needed                                                                    
     educational professionals.                                                                                                 
     Left over  from territorial days, the  statute limiting                                                                    
     years of  out of state  experience that can  be applied                                                                    
     to a  new hire's  salary scale  has become  an obstacle                                                                    
     that is hurting our schools.                                                                                               
     A bigger  issue we are  hoping to  help with HB  215 is                                                                    
     the extremely high drop out rates across the state.                                                                        
     Testimony on  other bills  the education  committee has                                                                    
     heard this  year describes  how unmotivated  or problem                                                                    
     students can be "pushed  out" rather than encouraged to                                                                    
     stay in school.   By averaging the  student counts that                                                                    
     are  used  to  determine  school funding,  we  hope  to                                                                    
     create a  financial incentive  for school  districts to                                                                    
     keep  students in  the classroom  past the  annual fall                                                                    
     Current statutes  provide for  one student count  to be                                                                    
     held in  October of  each year.   Funding for  the same                                                                    
     year  is  dependent  on  that   count.    HB  215  will                                                                    
     establish  counts in  October and  in February.   These                                                                    
     counts  will be  averaged  and then  used to  determine                                                                    
     funding  for the  following  year.   There  will be  an                                                                    
     additional count  in October  of the current  year that                                                                    
     will be  averaged with  the previous  February's count.                                                                    
     In the event that this  average is higher, funding will                                                                    
     then be increased for the current year.                                                                                    
     We  hope   that  by  providing  this   added  financial                                                                    
     motivation, school  districts will work  towards higher                                                                    
     student  retention rates.   Drop-out  rates  are a  big                                                                    
     problem that this  bill won't solve on its  own, but we                                                                    
     believe it needs to be attacked from multiple angles.                                                                      
     This bill  has the additional benefit  of determining a                                                                    
     solid funding level for the  upcoming school year; this                                                                    
     gives  school  districts  the   ability  to  work  with                                                                    
     concrete numbers when they plan their budget.                                                                              
     To better  serve Alaska's youth we  need to proactively                                                                    
     address the issues  of high drop out  rates and teacher                                                                    
     recruitment and  HB 215 does  that.  I'd like  to thank                                                                    
     the committee for taking the time to hear this bill.                                                                       
9:48:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON, referring  to the new language on page  2, asked if                                                               
the  last Friday  in February  corresponds with  any holidays  or                                                               
routine school breaks that would affect enrollments.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON explained that  the aforementioned date was                                                               
chosen because  the decision whether  teachers will  receive pink                                                               
slips occurs  by March 15.   Furthermore, having the  count prior                                                               
to March 15 allows schools to know the counts for the next year.                                                                
CHAIR SEATON requested  that the date be scrutinized  in order to                                                               
ensure that  the last  Friday in  February doesn't  conflict with                                                               
known or routine scheduled events.                                                                                              
MR. DISTEFANO interjected that March 15  is the end date by which                                                               
the count must  be complete; the date should  allow adequate time                                                               
for students to be in class.                                                                                                    
9:51:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER,  referring  to  the  sponsor  statement,                                                               
asked if  the current  statutes regarding  the salary  scale were                                                               
actually from territorial days.                                                                                                 
MR. DISTEFANO  replied yes, adding  that Mr. Jeans has  the exact                                                               
timeline when the state took over funding schools.                                                                              
9:51:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  remarked that HB  215 seems that  it could                                                               
be two  pieces of  legislation since  it addresses  the following                                                               
two separate subjects:  the  student count for school funding for                                                               
enrollment  and  repealing  school experience  for  salary  scale                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  said that  the two subjects  were combined                                                               
in order  that she  didn't have  two pieces  of legislation.   In                                                               
response  to Chair  Seaton,  Representative  Wilson related  that                                                               
Legislative Legal and  Research Services had no  problem with the                                                               
legislation having  the two subjects  because it falls  under the                                                               
topic of school funding purposes and salary scale provisions.                                                                   
9:53:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  surmised that  since  this  is the  first                                                               
hearing of HB 215, no fiscal note is available.                                                                                 
CHAIR SEATON indicated that to be the case.                                                                                     
9:53:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON requested review of  the chart entitled "Funding For                                                               
2011 School Year 335*BSA."                                                                                                      
9:54:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  DISTEFANO  explained  that  the  chart  relates  information                                                               
regarding the  2011 school year  and omits the 2012  school year.                                                               
The graph is  a way in which to conceptualize  the student counts                                                               
and illustrate how the averaging occurs.                                                                                        
9:55:32 AM                                                                                                                    
EDDIE  JEANS, Director,  School Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department of  Education and  Early Development  (EED), referring                                                               
to the aforementioned chart, explained  that the October 2010 and                                                               
February  2011 student  counts encompass  fiscal year  and school                                                               
year 2011.   The average of the  two counts is 335,  which is the                                                               
number upon  which the  2012 budget would  be based  because that                                                               
would  be the  guaranteed  level of  funding  the district  would                                                               
receive.   When  the  school  enters the  2012  school year,  the                                                               
February 2011 student  count would be used again and  a new count                                                               
would  be  performed in  October  2011.    If the  student  count                                                               
increases over  the prior count,  the district would  receive the                                                               
benefit  of the  higher  count,  but if  not  the district  would                                                               
receive  the count  calculated  in  the prior  year.   Mr.  Jeans                                                               
characterized  the aforementioned  as a  good planning  tool that                                                               
provides the district  with the knowledge of  its minimum funding                                                               
level six months in advance.                                                                                                    
9:57:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON asked  if the aforementioned is because  of the hold                                                               
harmless provision regarding declining enrollment.                                                                              
MR. JEANS  replied no, and clarified  that it's based on  the new                                                               
provision that would require two  counts from which an average is                                                               
taken.   He  then explained  further that  under this  provision,                                                               
another count  would be performed  in February 2012 and  it would                                                               
be averaged  with the  October 2011 count  in order  to establish                                                               
the 2013 minimum.                                                                                                               
9:57:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  asked  if  the new  count  system  would                                                               
impact funding for  intensive needs students.   She then inquired                                                               
as to the  impact this proposed count system would  have on rural                                                               
schools.   She surmised that  those rural students who  come into                                                               
the urban hubs in the winter  and then return to and re-enroll in                                                               
the rural  schools in  the spring would  be advantageous  for the                                                               
funding  level of  rural schools  while  disadvantageous for  the                                                               
urban hubs.                                                                                                                     
9:58:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  explained that currently  the count occurs  in October                                                               
as  that's  typically  the  peak  of  enrollment  in  the  school                                                               
districts throughout  the state.   He related his belief  that an                                                               
average would result  in fewer students being  funded through the                                                               
foundation program.   February was chosen in order  to place some                                                               
distance between the  count date and the  holidays without having                                                               
too much distance  and allowing for time to analyze  the data and                                                               
recalculate each  district's state aid.   He said he  wasn't sure                                                               
that the  count would  quite cover those  students who  return to                                                               
the rural areas in the spring.   Clearly, the average attempts to                                                               
provide better  insight into the  overall school  year population                                                               
as  opposed  to "pick  and  repeat."    The count  would  include                                                               
intensive needs students as it's an entire student count.                                                                       
9:59:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON surmised  then that this student  count system would                                                               
more  reasonably  direct the  funds  to  the location  where  the                                                               
students are actually attending.                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  said he believes that  would be the case.   In further                                                               
response  to  the  earlier  question  regarding  intensive  needs                                                               
students,  he  related  that  the  department  has  reviewed  the                                                               
movement  of  intensive needs  students  from  year to  year  and                                                               
determined  the movement  is  minimal.   In  fact,  of the  1,900                                                               
intensive  needs students  in Alaska,  about 25-30  students move                                                               
after the current count date.                                                                                                   
10:01:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON announced that HB 215 would be held over.                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 59 background I.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 215 material.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/10/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
HB 59 workdraft version E and original version R.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 59 background II.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB59-ESS-EED-4-2-09.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
SB 57 material I.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 57
SB 57 material II.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 57