Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/28/2016 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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               HB 298-LAYOFF OF TENURED TEACHERS                                                                            
8:05:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  298 "An  Act relating  to school  districts; and                                                               
relating to layoff plans for tenured teachers."                                                                                 
8:05:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO moved  to adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for  HB 298, Version 29-LS1372\W,  as the working                                                               
document.   There being  no objection, Version  W was  before the                                                               
8:06:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON,  Alaska State Legislature, explained                                                               
that the  change in the proposed  CS is represented in  the title                                                               
change.   She said  that under AS  14.20.177, two  triggers exist                                                               
which  allow districts  to  layoff tenured  teachers.   The  bill                                                               
retains  the statutes  pertaining  to the  protection of  teacher                                                               
tenure and removes the layoff  triggers to create an even playing                                                               
CHAIR KELLER opened public testimony.                                                                                           
8:08:21 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDY  HOLLERMAN,   President,  Anchorage   Teacher's  Association                                                               
(ATA), state opposition  to HB 298, paraphrasing  from a prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     I'm  a  20  year  educator with  the  Anchorage  School                                                                    
     District, and  for the past  4 years, president  of the                                                                    
     AEA.    In that  capacity  I've  been involved  in  the                                                                    
     process of  layoffs and involuntary  displacements that                                                                    
     happen  when  there is  a  reduction  in force  in  the                                                                    
     district.  I've  spent a lot of time on  the phone with                                                                    
     my  members  to  discuss  the details  they  needed  to                                                                    
     decide if they were going  to stay in the profession or                                                                    
     find a district that could  offer more security, or buy                                                                    
     a house, or truly commit themselves to the state.                                                                          
     I'm here  to speak in  opposition to  HB 298.   Our key                                                                    
     concern  about the  changes that  are proposed  in this                                                                    
     bill are  that it introduces more  uncertainty into the                                                                    
     professional lives of  your educator staff.   As is the                                                                    
     case with  the fiscal problems we  face, there's plenty                                                                    
     of   uncertainty  there   already.   There's  a   broad                                                                    
     assumption   that   teachers   with   tenure   can   be                                                                    
     unconcerned when cuts are being  made to the classroom,                                                                    
     and I can  tell you this is certainly not  the case.  A                                                                    
     few  years  back  when  Anchorage   cut  more  than  50                                                                    
     positions,   there   many   tenured   and   experienced                                                                    
     educators that  were displaced  - literally  hundreds -                                                                    
     as well  as many  among those  teachers that  were laid                                                                    
     off.  The system that's  in place protects programs and                                                                    
     integrity of  programs that  are deemed  more important                                                                    
     to   principals  and   administration,  and   minimizes                                                                    
     disruptions to  school staffs as  much as  possible, at                                                                    
     the expense of educators being more at risk.                                                                               
     While this isn't  great for our members,  it's good for                                                                    
     education  and it's  good for  students.   But  backing                                                                    
     this up  are a few  provisions in the law  about tenure                                                                    
     and  this  law that  limits  the  times and  conditions                                                                    
     under which we  face reductions.  It's not  clear to me                                                                    
     what a superintendent gains, by  being able to call for                                                                    
     a reduction in force when  their budget isn't being cut                                                                    
     or their student numbers are not decreasing.                                                                               
     We have had a recruiting  problem already.  This change                                                                    
     will  directly   affect  retention.    Each   time  the                                                                    
     district  goes  through  the process,  the  uncertainty                                                                    
     that is induced, even as  we're conducting our classes,                                                                    
     is  widespread.    It  absolutely  has  the  effect  of                                                                    
     causing educators  to choose other professions  or move                                                                    
     to  more  stable  states.    I've  talked  with  former                                                                    
     educators  in  Anchorage  as   they  were  making  this                                                                    
     I hope you'll  look carefully at what  this bill really                                                                    
     gains.  It  would appear some expediency  perhaps.  But                                                                    
     it  offers  some   professional  security  to  Alaskans                                                                    
     without much  cost to  you.  I  would suggest  that the                                                                    
     Legislature needs  to look  carefully at  anything they                                                                    
     can offer that's meaningful to  your staff that doesn't                                                                    
     cost  you much  in  the  way of  funds.   Fairness  and                                                                    
     reasonable  protections  matter  a   great  deal  in  a                                                                    
     climate  where  money  will  be less  and  less  of  an                                                                    
     option.    I would  urge you not  to pass this  bill to                                                                    
     the floor.                                                                                                                 
8:13:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  clarified how  the layoff pool  relates to                                                               
tenured teachers.                                                                                                               
MR.  HOLLERMAN  responded  that   it's  fairly  complicated,  but                                                               
teachers  are  displaced  based  on programs  being  cut  in  the                                                               
district as a  whole, without regard to tenure or  seniority.  At                                                               
the end of  a cutback cycle, a pool of  displaced teachers exists                                                               
with a variety  of qualifications.  He said he  has been teaching                                                               
middle school  business education,  although his actual  field is                                                               
secondary science;  a class that  he hasn't taught for  18 years.                                                               
Should the  program he  teaches be  cut, and  there are  no other                                                               
business education  positions available,  he said,  even as  a 20                                                               
year  teach,  he would  be  laid  off  rather than  displacing  a                                                               
tenured,  or non-tenured,  teacher  in  their existing  position.                                                               
Teachers  have had  this type  of action  occur, and  he provided                                                               
anecdotal  situations   of  tenured   teachers  being   place  on                                                               
displacement status.   The human  resources staff are,  at times,                                                               
taxed, by the details and complications of the current statutes.                                                                
8:16:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER  described  a theoretical  scenario  of  a                                                               
politically motivated,  activist teacher, and asked  whether, due                                                               
to  their   actions  in  the   district,  their  tenure   may  be                                                               
MR. HOLLERMAN acknowledged that such  a teacher may be displaced,                                                               
although  a   principal  will  not  openly   condemn  a  teachers                                                               
political actions.   A tenured teacher would feel  more secure in                                                               
such a situation.                                                                                                               
8:18:31 AM                                                                                                                    
JESSE   BJORKMAN,  Teacher,   stated   opposition   to  HB   298,                                                               
paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,  which read  as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Teaching  in  a  place  as   unique  as  Alaska  is  an                                                                    
     excellent example  of why tenure laws  are so important                                                                    
     to students, communities, and successful schools.                                                                          
     Many students do not have  good advocates who fight for                                                                    
     them.   Students  need bold  teachers  to provide  firm                                                                    
     guidance  and  grace.   Students  in  the best  schools                                                                    
     require  teachers who  teach controversial  topics from                                                                    
     multiple  points  of  view.     Students  in  the  most                                                                    
     successful  schools require  teachers  that provide  an                                                                    
     effective and exciting education without fear.                                                                             
     The  tenure laws  of Alaska  provide our  teachers with                                                                    
     confidence  to   be  the   best  child   advocates  and                                                                    
     educators  possible; without  fear  of unjust  reprisal                                                                    
     from a school administrator.                                                                                               
     Tenure does  not mean that  a teacher cannot  be fired.                                                                    
     In  fact,  if  a  school needs  to  dismiss  a  tenured                                                                    
     teacher there  is a straight forward  process to follow                                                                    
     and it often happens quite quickly.                                                                                        
     The  current law  simply  means that  there  is a  fair                                                                    
     process  which  must be  followed.    By striking  this                                                                    
     process, kids  will lose strong advocates  who are bold                                                                    
     and exciting teachers.                                                                                                     
     In  my  own teaching  practice,  I  educate kids  about                                                                    
     topics  that  some may  find  objectionable.   In  this                                                                    
     Easter  season I  have the  privilege to  teach my  7th                                                                    
     grade students about the  Hebrews and their celebration                                                                    
     of  Passover in  remembrance of  the Israelites  escape                                                                    
     from  bondage.   I  also teach  them  about the  Easter                                                                    
     story  of Jesus'  resurrection from  the dead  and what                                                                    
     Christ's passion  and resurrection means  to Christians                                                                    
     around the world.                                                                                                          
     Aside  from   exciting  histories,  some  of   my  most                                                                    
     exciting  lessons occur  in outdoor  education programs                                                                    
     where kids  build fires,  learn to  hunt and  trap, and                                                                    
     even butcher a beaver and eat it for lunch.                                                                                
     I am  able to  teach these  stories and  skills without                                                                    
     fear  of reprisal  and being  dismissed without  cause.                                                                    
     Tenure laws give me this security.                                                                                         
     There  are times  when teachers  need to  disagree with                                                                    
     administration  on issues  involving policy,  programs,                                                                    
     best practice,  or how to respond  to unique situations                                                                    
     that will have huge impacts on student's futures.                                                                          
     Being  able to  advocate for  students without  fear of                                                                    
     losing your livelihood is extremely important.                                                                             
     We should not  expect teachers to bite  their tongue or                                                                    
     hold their breath when the  future of their students is                                                                    
     at stake.   Teachers should  not be scared to  rock the                                                                    
     boat when poor policies are foisted upon kids.                                                                             
     Teachers must stand  up and advocate for kids!   No one                                                                    
     should  be forced  to sit  quietly  and agree  politely                                                                    
     when  our  children's  plight   hangs  in  the  balance                                                                    
     because a  teacher feels  that any  contradiction might                                                                    
     cost them their job.                                                                                                       
     Tenure  is  very important  for  the  future of  strong                                                                    
     schools on  the Kenai Peninsula and  throughout Alaska!                                                                    
     Our kids  deserve good,  bold, effective,  teachers who                                                                    
     are the  best instructors and strongest  advocates they                                                                    
     can be.                                                                                                                    
8:22:30 AM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA CLARK,  Teacher, stated  opposition to  HB 298,  and said                                                               
it's  getting  difficult  to  recommend  to  her  student's  that                                                               
entering the teaching profession is  a good career choice.  Given                                                               
the  demands  and  uncertainty   of  the  profession  in  today's                                                               
climate,  committing  to  a  teaching  career  is  becoming  less                                                               
attractive.   As  a professional,  a  teacher should  be able  to                                                               
become established  in a  community and  contribute to  the local                                                               
economy with  pride.   Student teaching  interns, with  a passion                                                               
for a  fringe subject, must  consider teaching the middle  of the                                                               
road courses  as the  safe route  to a  stable career.   Teachers                                                               
count on each  other to properly prepare  students for succeeding                                                               
levels, as  they pass  through the grades,  she said,  making the                                                               
hiring and retention of good  teachers imperative.  Additionally,                                                               
she opined, the due process  system for cultivating good teachers                                                               
works.     Administrators   and   principals   should  have   the                                                               
flexibility to choose  the best staff, by having a  wide range of                                                               
options and  offering attractive positions, which  this bill does                                                               
not accomplish, she finished.                                                                                                   
8:25:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER  inquired what attracted her  to a teaching                                                               
MS. CLARK  responded that it  isn't about money, but  an adequate                                                               
compensation and fair treatment is  important.  Her love of young                                                               
people and a  passion for the subjects she teaches  is what keeps                                                               
her in the classroom, she shared.                                                                                               
8:27:29 AM                                                                                                                    
NORM  WOOTEN, Executive  Director, Association  of Alaska  School                                                               
Boards (AASB),  Juneau, Alaska, testified  in support of  HB 298,                                                               
and  said  a good  teacher  in  front  of  students is  the  most                                                               
important factor  for increasing student achievement.   Given the                                                               
dire  fiscal situation  of the  state, it's  critical for  school                                                               
districts to have  access to every possible tool  available.  The                                                               
bill is  important for preservation  of programs that  best serve                                                               
the students.   Flexibility will enable districts  to continue to                                                               
work toward increasing student achievement.                                                                                     
8:28:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out  that the bill doesn't indicate                                                               
that  a  dire  financial  situation  is  a  requirement  for  not                                                               
retaining  tenured teachers,  student numbers  need not  be on  a                                                               
decline, neither  does the [base  student allocation  (BSA)] come                                                               
into  question.   The  financial  reasons don't  appear  to be  a                                                               
consideration, in HB 298, and he  asked for an explanation of the                                                               
MR.  WOOTEN  said  that  the   existing  statute  stipulates  two                                                               
scenarios for  reducing tenured staff:   1) school  attendance is                                                               
decreasing,  or   2)  the  basic   need  of  a   school  district                                                               
experiences a reduction of three  percent from the previous year.                                                               
Typically, the  last in, is  the first out, when  reducing staff,                                                               
which  relates   to  non-tenured  teachers.     The  bill  allows                                                               
protection   of  school   programs,   versus  retaining   tenured                                                               
teachers.   Otherwise it's  possible to  end up  with a  staff of                                                               
tenured teachers  who all share  the same field of  expertise, he                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  noted  that  HB 298  eliminates  the  two                                                               
triggers,  but  an  explanation  addressing  the  dire  financial                                                               
justification was not addressed in the response, he lamented.                                                                   
8:31:48 AM                                                                                                                    
RAY  ARCHOLETA, Teacher,  Kenai  Peninsula Education  Association                                                               
(KPEA), state opposition to HB  298, paraphrasing from a prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     I am the proud parent  of two school age children, both                                                                    
     whom are  products of the Alaska  public school system.                                                                    
     Each  of them  built  rapport  with numerous  teachers.                                                                    
     This  took time  and dedication  from each  teacher and                                                                    
     could   not  have   otherwise  been   possible  without                                                                    
     consistent staff.   This  bill would  open the  door to                                                                    
     I am a  special education teacher of over 10  years.  I                                                                    
     work with a select group  of students many of whom come                                                                    
     from dysfunctional  homes:  some with  one parent, some                                                                    
     adopted, some in  transition.  Why is  this relevant to                                                                    
     HB 298?   I state that these children  are exactly like                                                                    
     my own  - they need responsible,  consistent, adults in                                                                    
     their  lives.   Beyond  my children,  often times  this                                                                    
     population   demonstrates    attachment   difficulties.                                                                    
     People come and  go so frequently they  don't know what                                                                    
     a healthy relationship looks like.   Often, it is those                                                                    
     in  positions  such  as  mine   who  fulfill  the  role                                                                    
     teaching and modeling healthy  relationships.  Should a                                                                    
     bill  such   as  HB  298  pass,   all  educators  could                                                                    
     subjectively  be part  of a  budget balancing  act that                                                                    
     would   interrupt,   or   worse,  scar   this   fragile                                                                    
     population of students.                                                                                                    
     My 3rd  and final point  as to  why I disapprove  of HB
     298.  My  spouse, who is also an educator,  and I would                                                                    
     not  have  been  able  to settle  into  Homer,  or  any                                                                    
     Alaskan community if  it had not been  for the security                                                                    
     of our  jobs.   However, HB 298,  if passed,  would not                                                                    
     grant us a sense of stability.                                                                                             
     For  the  sake of  time,  I  conclude my  testimony  in                                                                    
     restating that HB  298 should not pass.   This is based                                                                    
     on the  best interest  of students and  their families,                                                                    
     as  well  as  the  best interests  of  the  educational                                                                    
     communities.   This bill could  do more harm  than good                                                                    
     and is unnecessary.                                                                                                        
8:34:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK FRAAD, Teacher, Kenai Peninsula Education (KPEA), state                                                                    
opposition to HB 298, paraphrasing from a prepared statement,                                                                   
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     I am  a teacher at Seward  Elementary School.  I  am in                                                                    
     my  33rd year  of teaching.    I have  taught for  five                                                                    
     school  districts   in  Alaska  and  at   the  American                                                                    
     International  School   in  Israel.    I   have  taught                                                                    
     everything from  full time kindergarten to  high school                                                                    
     I stand in opposition to HB 298.                                                                                           
     Tenure is  a far  different thing in  small communities                                                                    
     like  Seward.   On  the  Kenai  and  in Seward  we  are                                                                    
     already having trouble  attracting teachers and filling                                                                    
     positions.   After all, times in  Alaska are troubling;                                                                    
     there  is no  defined benefit  and wages  are stagnant.                                                                    
     Without  tenure   teachers  will  find  it   even  less                                                                    
     attractive to  invest in  Alaska and buy  a home.   The                                                                    
     tenure  system   currently  in   place  works   and  is                                                                    
     Alaska is  unique and  should not  be modeled  like the                                                                    
     Lower 48.                                                                                                                  
     Parents in Seward know their  teachers and take comfort                                                                    
     in knowing  that in this  ever changing world  at least                                                                    
     there  is security  and consistency  in their  teachers                                                                    
     and their child's education.                                                                                               
8:36:42 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIK   PIERSON,   Representative,   Matanuska-Susitna   Education                                                               
Association  (MSEA), state  opposition  to  HB 298,  paraphrasing                                                               
from  a  prepared  statement, which  read  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     I  teach  4th  and   5th  grade  at  Fronteras  Spanish                                                                    
     Immersion School,  a K-8 school  in the  Mat-Su Valley.                                                                    
     With that  said, I'd  like to say  "thank you"  many of                                                                    
     you for your  support in our acquiring  the funding for                                                                    
     our new  school.   Without such  help from  our elected                                                                    
     officials,  who  knows  how long  we'd  remain  in  the                                                                    
     gravel pit we've been renting.                                                                                             
     I  made it  through a  three-year probationary  period,                                                                    
     which came  with feeling more  secure in my role  as an                                                                    
     educator.   Now I've  been looking  at buying  my first                                                                    
     home ever,  right here  in Alaska.   Just  this morning                                                                    
     they said on  the radio that the Mat-Su  Borough is now                                                                    
     the  second largest  populated area  in the  state -  a                                                                    
     growing community that  I would like to grow  with.  If                                                                    
     HB 298 were to pass, I'm  not certain if I ought to own                                                                    
     a home  if my  sense of job  security diminishes.   I'm                                                                    
     very confident  in my  job, so much  so that  I've been                                                                    
     approached by parents telling me  they'd love for me to                                                                    
     loop  with their  students to  middle school.   However                                                                    
     this bill doesn't translate well  to my students if I'm                                                                    
     easily  replaced by  a teacher  whose  salary might  be                                                                    
     less because of  lack of experience or  because I might                                                                    
     have a  difference of  opinion with  my principal.   We                                                                    
     need to  maintain our qualified  teachers and  the fair                                                                    
     I  am passionate  about teaching  and getting  students                                                                    
     fired  up about  learning.   I would  love to  continue                                                                    
     doing so  in what I  deem to be  the best state  in the                                                                    
     union,  despite the  compensation I  plan to  earn upon                                                                    
     retirement.     However,  a   bill  that   would  allow                                                                    
     undefined "flexibility" to districts  to layoff as they                                                                    
     see  fit would  prompt me  to look  at more  hospitable                                                                    
     states.   The  lack of  consistency would  harm student                                                                    
     achievement, thus I oppose HB 298.                                                                                         
8:38:57 AM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA  LLOYD, Teacher,  Anchorage  Education Association  (AEA),                                                               
state  opposition  to  HB  298,   paraphrasing  from  a  prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     I am  an occupational  therapist of  34 years  and have                                                                    
     worked  with  the  Anchorage  School  District  for  24                                                                    
     years.  I have also  worked for Providence Hospital, am                                                                    
     an  adjunct  professor  Creighton University,  and  the                                                                    
     doctorate  program at  University  of Alaska  Anchorage                                                                    
     I am  speaking against HB  298.  Changing  the language                                                                    
     and intent  of the original  bill will have  an adverse                                                                    
     effect     on    attracting     qualified    educators.                                                                    
     Occupational  therapists,  physical therapists,  speech                                                                    
     language   pathologists,   school  psychologists,   and                                                                    
     adaptive physical  education teachers are a  few of the                                                                    
     educators grouped  under related services.   We are all                                                                    
     very  short  staffed in  Anchorage  even  with a  small                                                                    
     retention bonus.  My department  needs to hire contract                                                                    
     people  through outside  agencies to  meet our  student                                                                    
     needs.   I work with the  special education population.                                                                    
     Like   most  students   they  need   a  stable   school                                                                    
     environment  where   their  teachers,   therapists  and                                                                    
     support staff remain stable.   At one of my schools the                                                                    
     speech language pathologist has  changed every year for                                                                    
     the  past four  years.   This contract  person will  be                                                                    
     replaced by another.  One  of our contract occupational                                                                    
     therapists  that  I  mentor   would  like  to  stay  in                                                                    
     Anchorage but  there is not the  security of retirement                                                                    
     or a salary she can live with.   HB 298 will add to the                                                                    
     list of  reasons why qualified educators  will not stay                                                                    
     in  Alaska.   That  list  also  includes not  having  a                                                                    
     defined benefit  retirement or  the ability  to collect                                                                    
     their full social security  benefits from other states.                                                                    
     Tenure allows security for our students and educators.                                                                     
8:40:45 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID BRIGHTON, President,  Kenia Peninsula Education Association                                                               
(KPEA),  state  opposition  to  HB  298,  and  said  layoffs  are                                                               
currently  underway.   The  bill  is not  necessary  to make  the                                                               
appropriate staff adjustments and budgetary  cuts, he opined.  As                                                               
KPEA president, he  reported that he is working  closely with the                                                               
human resources department in the  layoff process, which involves                                                               
mandatory, involuntary transfers of  tenured teachers.  The Kenai                                                               
district, once able  to attract a plethora  of teacher prospects,                                                               
is experiencing  hiring difficulties.  Certainly,  teachers don't                                                               
teach  for the  money,  but  they may  decide  not  to enter  the                                                               
profession  because of  the lack  of compensation.   Tenure  is a                                                               
clear benefit  and included in  a teacher's contract.   The study                                                               
released  by  the  Institute  of  Social  and  Economic  Research                                                               
(ISER), in the  fall 2015, valued teacher tenure at  $16,000.  It                                                               
reported that  if tenure were to  be cut, or harmed,  in order to                                                               
attract the same level of  teachers, a salary increase of $16,000                                                               
would  need  to  be  included  as  a  benefit  balance.    Better                                                               
contracts attract better teachers,  and better teachers provide a                                                               
better  education   to  students,  and  that   is  paramount,  he                                                               
8:43:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER  clarified that the  $16,000, increase would  be per                                                               
8:43:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked  about the  involuntary  transfer                                                               
among staff, and how HB 298 would effect that process.                                                                          
MR.  BRIGHTON   explained  the  pupil  teacher   ratio  (PTR)  is                                                               
reviewed,  and when  it's reduced,  a full  or halftime  teaching                                                               
position  may be  identified  for redundancy.    If two  halftime                                                               
positions  exist they  equal one  fulltime position,  but may  be                                                               
located in two different facilities.   A teacher could accept the                                                               
situation and it would be  considered an involuntary transfer, as                                                               
it is not a departure from the original contract.                                                                               
8:45:15 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  SHIBE, Teacher,  Matanuska-Susitna School  District, state                                                               
opposition  to HB  298, paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     This bill destroys tenure.   Please, don't be afraid of                                                                    
     tenure.  The word  "tenure" is grossly misunderstood by                                                                    
     many.   Tenure simply means  that a teacher  has passed                                                                    
     his  probationary period.    A  probationary period  is                                                                    
     common  in  most  professions.    What's  uncommon  for                                                                    
     teachers is  that our  probationary period  lasts three                                                                    
     years - much longer than most professions.                                                                                 
     After we  pass our probationary period,  we then simply                                                                    
     have rights to the seven steps  of just cause if we are                                                                    
     disciplined  or dismissed.    There's nothing  mythical                                                                    
     about the process.                                                                                                         
     My concern about HB 298  is that the ramifications will                                                                    
     be widespread and are unknown.   There remains too many                                                                    
     questions about the impact of  this bill and the degree                                                                    
     to which it will disrupt schools.                                                                                          
     Alaska's  layoff   statues  have  been  in   place  for                                                                    
     decades, through  good budget years  and bad.   What is                                                                    
     the difference now that makes this statute necessary?                                                                      
     What district with more  students needs fewer teachers?                                                                    
     Where  would  the   extra  money  go  if   not  in  the                                                                    
     classroom?   Where are the  studies that  indicate this                                                                    
     bill will improve student outcome?                                                                                         
     Please do not pass HB 298.                                                                                                 
8:47:06 AM                                                                                                                    
DON  GRAY, Teacher,  state opposition  to HB  298, and  said that                                                               
given the brevity  of time remaining in  the legislative session,                                                               
time  could be  better spent  by taking  other fiscal  actions to                                                               
improve   state    revenues,   and   he    offered   suggestions.                                                               
Additionally, he described the economic  drivers that are of more                                                               
importance, for  developing Alaska's  economic stability.   House                                                               
Bill  298,  he   predicted,  will  cause  law   suits  and  other                                                               
disruptions   that  will   be  of   no  benefit   to  the   civic                                                               
responsibility that the legislature must address.                                                                               
8:51:23 AM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN SHIPLEY, Superintendent, Kake  City School District, stated                                                               
support  for  HB 298,  paraphrasing  from  a prepared  statement,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     Our  teachers are  the  districts  greatest assets  and                                                                    
     keeping  them  secure  in their  professional  life  is                                                                    
     important.   While I firmly  believe that  there should                                                                    
     be  robust  protections  to   staff  under  statute  in                                                                    
     regards to a  Reduction in Force, I also  feel that the                                                                    
     current law placing districts in  a position where they                                                                    
     do not have  the flexibility or tools  needed to decide                                                                    
     what educational  programs will be provided,  to ensure                                                                    
     that we have qualified staff  in those positions and in                                                                    
     these  uncertain  financial  times it  provides  little                                                                    
     flexibility to  be able to adjust  to monetary concerns                                                                    
     outside of their control.                                                                                                  
     Even if  this bill  passes there are  still appropriate                                                                    
     checks and  balances and require each  districts school                                                                    
     board  to  approve  the  RIF plan.    While  this  bill                                                                    
     eliminates  requirements   on  when  a  RIF   could  be                                                                    
     implemented, it does not eliminate the tenure system.                                                                      
     There  are several  scenarios' I  can envision  where a                                                                    
     district could  lose significant  revenue and  not meet                                                                    
     the current conditions  set out in statute.   This bill                                                                    
     would  allow  those  districts  some  flexibility  when                                                                    
     those financial extengencies arise.                                                                                        
     I agree with  the sentiment of the  educators that have                                                                    
     testified   today,  there   are   several  things   the                                                                    
     legislature could  do to  make the  teaching profession                                                                    
     more  appealing to  prospective  teachers, which  would                                                                    
     not cost the state additional funds.                                                                                       
     Two scenarios:                                                                                                             
     TRS/PERS bill  being introduced today would  reduce the                                                                    
     money available  to districts but would  not affect the                                                                    
     districts basic need.  As  our schools are already to a                                                                    
     reduced level                                                                                                              
     Money is  cut after  budget is  set and  districts cuts                                                                    
     occur that  year and districts decide  to keep teachers                                                                    
     and use.                                                                                                                   
8:52:54 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA  PARADY,  Executive  Director,   Alaska  Council  of  School                                                               
Administrators (ACSA),  stated support  for HB  298, paraphrasing                                                               
from  a  prepared  statement, which  read  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Whilst  unable  to  attend, I  still  need  to  express                                                                    
     ACSA's support  for HB 298,  which would  eliminate the                                                                    
     two statutory provisions required  in order to access a                                                                    
     Reduction   In  Force   (RIF)  process.     Those   two                                                                    
     provisions currently are:                                                                                                  
     •    School attendance  in the district  has decreased;                                                                    
     •    The basic  need of the school  district determined                                                                    
     by AS 14.17.410(b)(1) decreases by  3% or more from the                                                                    
     previous year.                                                                                                             
     As   Alaska's   fiscal   situation   continues   school                                                                    
     districts  are going  to need  every available  tool to                                                                    
     ensure  we  are  to  deliver  a  quality  instructional                                                                    
     program to our  students.  This is  not about devaluing                                                                    
     teachers.   It is about  ensuring we are able  to place                                                                    
     the "right" teachers in front  of students.  We need to                                                                    
     have  statues  in  place  before  the  need  exists  so                                                                    
     districts are able to quickly move to serve students.                                                                      
     For  example,  in  the   proposed  TRS/PERS  bill,  the                                                                    
     legislature  is  "being  creative" to  (a)  not  reduce                                                                    
     "basic   need"  while   (b)   changing  the   financial                                                                    
     situation/paradigm  of   the  District.   The  PERS/TRS                                                                    
     approach to reducing net state  revenue to the District                                                                    
     would not hit  the very limited trigger  of the current                                                                    
     statute even though in effect  the legislature would be                                                                    
     using PERS/TRS to reduce state revenue to districts.                                                                       
     It should be  noted that HB 298 does  not eliminate the                                                                    
     robust  protections currently  in  statute for  teacher                                                                    
     seniority.   By definition (as  set out in  the current                                                                    
     statute for  RIF implementation),  any teacher  that is                                                                    
     RIF'd  would be  (a)  a non-tenured  teacher  or (b)  a                                                                    
     tenured teacher less senior  to another tenured teacher                                                                    
     or (c) a  tenured teacher who is not  qualified (as set                                                                    
     out in  the current  statute) for  any position  in the                                                                    
     Districts  should not  be asked  to be  responsible for                                                                    
     limited resources  without the flexibility or  tools to                                                                    
     (a) decide  what educational programs will  be provided                                                                    
     by the district and (b)  place qualified staff in those                                                                    
     positions  and (c)  in times  of limited  resources, be                                                                    
     able to  consider all  of their  staff in  making these                                                                    
     decisions.   As legislature  asks Districts to  do more                                                                    
     with less,  it should  enable them to  make fundamental                                                                    
     staffing decisions.                                                                                                        
     Also note that there is  a fundamental check on any RIF                                                                    
     plans, in that  they have to be approved  by the Board.                                                                    
     Thus the Board  - as the reflection of  the community -                                                                    
     decides  that  a   RIF  is  needed  in   light  of  the                                                                    
     educational offerings and resources of the District.                                                                       
     As Alaska's  fiscal challenge continues, there  will be                                                                    
     more  districts in  this situation.  The effect  of the                                                                    
     current  statute  is  to   hit  larger  districts  with                                                                    
     increased costs  and program changes/cuts that  leave a                                                                    
     District  "warehousing"  or   maintaining  unneeded  or                                                                    
     unaffordable   programs.   It   also   leaves   smaller                                                                    
     districts  with  a  significant percentage  of  tenured                                                                    
     staff   with  insufficient   room   to  make   staffing                                                                    
     decisions  with the  only "moveable"  parts being  non-                                                                    
     tenured staff.                                                                                                             
8:57:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  asked about schools nationwide,  and if                                                               
this type of criteria is being  applied to tenure, and whether it                                                               
has effected recruitment and retention of teachers.                                                                             
MA. PARADY said  Alaska may be unique, and she  agreed to provide                                                               
further information.                                                                                                            
8:58:23 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBIN  GRAY,  Superintendent,  Yakutat  School  District,  stated                                                               
support for HB  298, and said it will not  change the process but                                                               
will  allow more  districts the  ability to  access the  process.                                                               
She predicted  that HB 298 will  prove to be very  helpful in the                                                               
smaller districts, such as Yakutat,  where management of staff is                                                               
critical.    Seniority  protections  to the  tenured  staff  will                                                               
remain intact,  and she said,  tenured staff comprise  the entire                                                               
faculty  in Yakutat.    The smaller  districts  have very  little                                                               
adjustment room,  when making staffing  decisions.   Invoking the                                                               
two existing trigger criteria negatively  impacts students in the                                                               
classroom.  The  districts need as many options  as possible, and                                                               
the loss of programs does not  serve students.  She urged passage                                                               
of HB 298.                                                                                                                      
9:00:27 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  DEENA  PARAMO,   Superintendent,  Matanuska-Susitna  Borough                                                               
School District, stated support for  HB 298, and pointed out that                                                               
the bill  addresses AS 14.20.177,  reduction in force,  while the                                                               
majority of the  testimony provided speaks to  AS 14.20.175, non-                                                               
retention.   The bill  isn't about saving  money, she  said, it's                                                               
about  a  reduction  in  force.   Displacement  and  transfer  of                                                               
teachers are not  laid off and, thus, do not  relate to reduction                                                               
in force.   The bill is  not about attraction, or  recruitment of                                                               
teachers,  it's about  reduction in  force.   It's neither  about                                                               
releasing   non-tenured   teachers    who   have   administrative                                                               
disagreements, nor  teacher evaluations.  In  fact, she stressed,                                                               
it's about putting  the best teachers in front of  students.  She                                                               
opined  that  the  bill  will   allow  appropriate  placement  of                                                               
teachers  and keep  qualified teachers  instructing the  subjects                                                               
they are  best suited to  deliver.  She  addressed Representative                                                               
Seaton's  previous  question,  and  offered  that  expanding  the                                                               
statute  to  allow a  reduction  in  force under  certain  fiscal                                                               
situations, may  be helpful.   The local school boards  need this                                                               
type of control to support  administrators who must appropriately                                                               
place teachers during  programmatic cut backs.   She stressed the                                                               
importance for  focusing on the  reduction in force, as  the bill                                                               
intends,  versus   the  retention  of  tenured   and  non-tenured                                                               
teachers, which is  not part of HB 298.   The appropriate statute                                                               
needs to be  understood, and the two, limiting  triggers that are                                                               
under AS 14.20.177.                                                                                                             
9:04:16 AM                                                                                                                    
RON  FUHRER,  President,  National  Education  Association  (NEA)                                                               
Alaska, state opposition to HB  298, paraphrasing from a prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     I am here to testify against House Bill 298.                                                                               
     These  are  difficult fiscal  times  for  the State  of                                                                    
     Alaska  and our  school  districts. Alaska's  educators                                                                    
     understand this,  and we know that  layoffs are coming.                                                                    
     What we don't want to see  is an upending of the layoff                                                                    
     procedures  that  have  been in  statute  for  decades,                                                                    
     which  allow  for  local   input  and  a  collaborative                                                                    
     approach to making difficult decisions.                                                                                    
     Layoffs  are   never  easy  -  they   impact  teachers,                                                                    
     students,  and  communities.  HB   298  would  make  an                                                                    
     already  stressful layoff  process more  unpredictable,                                                                    
     more   arbitrary,   and   ultimately   lead   to   more                                                                    
     uncertainty  for   teachers,  parents,   students,  and                                                                    
     The bill  also raises a  number of questions -  why are                                                                    
     school  districts  finding  it  necessary  to  lay  off                                                                    
     teachers  when student  counts  in  some districts  are                                                                    
     going  up? Where  does the  additional funding  go? How                                                                    
     will  this bill  effect  Alaska's ESSA  implementation?                                                                    
     What  unintended  consequences  could result  from  the                                                                    
     passage of HB 298?                                                                                                         
     The rule  we have  operated under  for decades  is that                                                                    
     less  experienced teachers  should be  laid off  before                                                                    
     more  experienced teachers.  For  the  most part,  this                                                                    
     keeps  the  highest   qualified  professionals  in  the                                                                    
     classroom working with students.                                                                                           
     It  also  allows   teachers,  tenured  and  non-tenured                                                                    
     alike, some  degree of certainty  about where  they can                                                                    
     spend their careers and raise  their families. When our                                                                    
     members don't know if, or  when, they might be laid off                                                                    
     from one school year to the  next, we lose our best and                                                                    
     brightest to other states.                                                                                                 
     Is  the  current  system perfect?  No,  and  no  layoff                                                                    
     system  ever  will  be.  But  we  remain  committed  to                                                                    
     working with  superintendents and school boards  at the                                                                    
     local   level   and   their  state   organizations   to                                                                    
     collaboratively  find solutions  to  this question  and                                                                    
     others  that  address  the  needs  of  students  across                                                                    
     Alaska in a  manner that is fair to  our most qualified                                                                    
     and experienced educators.                                                                                                 
     Today you  have heard from teachers  from across Alaska                                                                    
     about  their  perspectives  on  this  legislation,  and                                                                    
     their own  experiences with  layoff procedures.  As you                                                                    
     have  seen, what  makes sense  in  one community  often                                                                    
     isn't  the right  fit for  another. But,  by addressing                                                                    
     these issues  at the local level  and working together,                                                                    
     we can  continue to  create a  positive result  for our                                                                    
9:07:04 AM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  MAYER, Superintendent,  Wrangell Public  Schools, stated                                                               
support  for HB  298, and  said the  quality of  teachers in  the                                                               
district is  evident in  the consistently high  test scores.   He                                                               
echoed the sentiments of Dr.  Paramo, regarding the need to focus                                                               
on the reduction  in force process and the two  triggers that are                                                               
stipulated in statute.  The  bill provides an additional tool for                                                               
prioritizing  student   needs  and,  if  a   reduction  in  force                                                               
situation  occurs, ensuring  that the  experts in  any field  are                                                               
placed  in the  appropriate  classroom.   Smaller districts  with                                                               
limited faculty have  narrow margins and minimal  wiggle room for                                                               
making staffing decisions,  when the only movable  parts are non-                                                               
tenured teachers.                                                                                                               
9:09:01 AM                                                                                                                    
BYRON CHARLES  testified on HB 298,  and said young people  are a                                                               
fount  of  technological wisdom.    New  tools are  important  to                                                               
understand,  and require  education and  knowledge to  implement.                                                               
We're talking  about qualifications,  he underscored,  people who                                                               
are qualified  to provide education  for our  younger generation.                                                               
As opposed to dwelling on  layoffs and cutbacks, the focus should                                                               
be on  the students,  not the  adults.   He mentioned  the Alaska                                                               
statehood act as  a prime example of a tool  that was afforded to                                                               
the state.   The  mechanics of yesterday  are being  retrained on                                                               
the  new technology  of today's  engines.   Taking  up new  tools                                                               
applies    everywhere   and    it's    important   to    consider                                                               
qualifications,  he  stressed.    What can  we  offer  that  will                                                               
benefit the young people of the future generation, he finished.                                                                 
9:12:30 AM                                                                                                                    
BOB  CRUMLEY,  Superintendent,  Chugach School  District,  stated                                                               
support for HB  298, and predicted that the  current practices at                                                               
Chugach will  not be  changed.  However,  if changes  were afoot,                                                               
the  bill will  be helpful  in ensuring  the least  disruption to                                                               
student  programs.     The  bill  will  not   erode  the  current                                                               
protections in place for tenured staff, he opined.                                                                              
9:15:48 AM                                                                                                                    
KAREN  GABORIK,  Superintendent,  Fairbanks  North  Star  Borough                                                               
School  District,  stated  support  for  HB  298,  and  said  her                                                               
comments reflect  the sentiments of the  superintendents who have                                                               
previously  testified, as  well as  Lisa Parady.   The  bill will                                                               
allow   districts   the   necessary  flexibility   to   implement                                                               
programmatic and  staffing changes  based on  reasonable criteria                                                               
that  respond to  district, student,  and community  needs.   The                                                               
local school boards  will be empowered to  make important choices                                                               
regarding  reduction  in  force.     The  Fairbanks  district  is                                                               
currently  projecting  a  growth  cycle;  however,  that  doesn't                                                               
exempt the need to scrutinize  programs for possible cuts.  Under                                                               
the current limiting, statutory,  criteria, she said the district                                                               
cannot reduce tenured staff regardless  of the financial state or                                                               
the resources  that may  not be sufficient  to carry  out current                                                               
programs.   She described a  possible scenario to  illustrate her                                                               
point  conjecturing  how  a tenured  French  instructor,  lacking                                                               
other   qualifications    and   skills   would    require   being                                                               
"warehoused."   Further,  she reiterated  that  HB 298  addresses                                                               
reduction  in force,  versus the  retention of  tenured and  non-                                                               
tenured  teachers.    The  local  school  board  would  still  be                                                               
required to  approve a layoff  plan, and a teacher's  due process                                                               
is  fully retained.   Regarding  redirection of  funds, she  said                                                               
operation  costs  vary   from  year  to  year   and  the  formula                                                               
allocation doesn't always cover the increases.                                                                                  
9:21:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER closed  public testimony  and announced  HB 298  as                                                               
held over.                                                                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB305 Sponsor Statement.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
CSHB305 ver H.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
CSHB305 EDC Sectional Analysis.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 Sectional Analysis.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
CSHB305 EDC Summary of Changes.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 ver A.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 Supporting Documents.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 Opposing Documents.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 Alaska Statutes on Regulation of Postsecondary Institutions.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 ACPE Application for Initial Authorization.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 National Trends on State Regulation of YTTS as Occupational Schools.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB305 History of Yoga Alliance.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 305
HB357 ver. A.PDF HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/1/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 357
HB357 Sponsors Statement.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/1/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 357
CSHB298 ver W.pdf HEDC 3/28/2016 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/1/2016 8:00:00 AM
HB 298