Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/13/1996 03:07 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 465 - TEACHER EMPLOYMENT/PUB SCHL BARGAINING                             
 Number 455                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Tom Wright, Legislative Aide to Representative           
 Ivan to present the sponsor statement for HB 465.                             
 TOM WRIGHT, Legislative Aide to Representative Ivan Ivan, read the            
 following sponsor statement:                                                  
      Representative Ivan introduced House Bill 465 to allow our               
      school districts a degree of flexibility when dealing with               
      increased costs associated with our educational system.                  
      House Bill 465 would allow school districts to lay off                   
      teachers who have acquired tenure rights, but only if the                
      school district finds it necessary to reduce the number of               
      teachers due to declining enrollment or declining revenues.              
      Qualifications for rehire purposes are also established in               
      this bill.                                                               
      The bill also increases tenure from two to three years and               
      removes the costly trial de novo portion of our statutes                 
      which allows a school district employee who, if not satisfied            
      with a district led investigation, to go to the court system             
      to begin an entirely new trial.  The district's investigation,           
      most often, must be recreated.  The deletion of the trial de             
      novo provides our educators the same protections as provided             
      to other state employees.  New procedures for appealing a                
      decision to dismiss or nonretain a tenured teacher are                   
      established in House Bill 465.  The record established during            
      the various hearings will be available for use if a suit is              
      filed in superior court.                                                 
      An extensive evaluation system and an improvement of                     
      performance plan is included in House Bill 465.  The                     
      evaluation system can be used for nonretention purposes.                 
      Should a tenured or nontenured teacher receive a less than               
      acceptable evaluation, a plan of improvement would be imposed.           
      If, after imposition of the plan of improvement, the teacher             
      receives another less than acceptable evaluation, the teacher            
      is subject to nonretention.                                              
      Sections 2 and 4 of House Bill 465 apply only to those                   
      teachers who are hired after the bill is signed into law.                
      The remaining sections of the bill dealing with loss of tenure           
      rights, evaluations, layoff and rehire and elimination of                
      trial de novo go into effect after the bill is signed and will           
      have an effect on all teachers.                                          
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Representative Ivan to join Mr. Wright at the            
 witness table.                                                                
 Number 594                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG asked Representative Ivan if he was            
 planning on or if he would prepare a comparison of the various                
 bills dealing with this issue.                                                
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN, Prime sponsor of HB 465, responded that             
 the majority of the elements of HB 217 were incorporated in HB 465.           
 He said they also took into consideration some of the issues                  
 brought up by the task force on House Bill 217 and the position               
 statements of the Association of the Alaska School Boards.  He                
 believes this is a better bill than the bill he sponsored last                
 year.  He views it as a good tool for the various school districts,           
 villages and parents.                                                         
 Number 649                                                                    
 TOM RICHARDS testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  He said            
 there are some good items in this bill, but some that he feels                
 totally undermine its effectiveness.  He commented on the process             
 and approach that makes teachers feel like they haven't been                  
 included in this process.  In a comparison of the Governor's bill             
 and Representative Ivan's bill, he thought the peer review had some           
 possibilities, but providing for peer review without any training             
 is not good and undermines the effectiveness of this bill.  With              
 regard to observation, he said HB 465 calls for one observation and           
 evaluation of each teacher.  There needs to be some multiple                  
 approaches to that in order to take a good look at whether the                
 teacher is effective or not.  Representative Ivan's bill offers no            
 in-service training and he felt that says something about teachers            
 in general and how the legislature feels about what they do.  In              
 fact, he thought the timing of the teleconference sent a message in           
 that the high schools are the only schools out by 3:00 p.m. and the           
 only teachers available to testify.  He referred to the reduction             
 in force issue and mentioned that Representative Ivan's bill offers           
 three criteria:  1) during the school year, the district determines           
 there will be a decrease of at least 2 percent per pupil revenue in           
 the next year.  He thought the contingency funds could certainly              
 handle a 2 percent dip and the school districts could use that as             
 a punitive measure; 2) school district's revenue has failed to keep           
 pace with inflation over the last five years.  He commented that              
 rainy day funds are for situations like this; and 3) school board             
 has determined it is unable to meet its financial obligations.  His           
 concern is this could be used to clean house and once that was                
 accomplished, the school board would find additional money.                   
 Relating to unacceptable performance, he said Representative Ivan's           
 bill contains a large paragraph concerning only one evaluation, one           
 observation and a one-year plan of improvement.  He asked the                 
 committee to consider William Demming's approach to management and            
 quality control.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that Mr. Demming's approach is              
 for everyone to be happy in a win/win situation.                              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE added that as a former teacher, he shared some of              
 Mr. Richard's frustration about teacher involvement.  However, Co-            
 Chair Bunde has been involved with this issue over the last two               
 years and has begged the teachers in his district to get involved             
 and quite frankly, the teachers that have tenure are not very                 
 concerned and have been ignoring the issue.  It is not the                    
 committee's intent to ignore teacher participation, but it was                
 vastly limited the last time this issue came before the                       
 MR. RICHARDS volunteered his telephone number and said if the                 
 committee at any time has any questions concerning secondary                  
 education, he would be happy to respond.                                      
 Number 861                                                                    
 VINCE SPERANGE testified from Anchorage that he wanted to address             
 the aspect of Representative Ivan's bill that calls for the ability           
 to terminate a tenured teacher.  Under current law, there are three           
 criteria, one of which is incompetence which is defined as the                
 inability to perform a teacher's customary duties.  He thinks that            
 an ill-considered change in the bill is the substitute that states            
 that failure to receive an evaluation that is acceptable after an             
 imposition of a plan of improvement would be grounds for                      
 termination.  His concern is the plan of improvement and the                  
 aspects of the criteria are not defined.  So a plan of improvement            
 could be drafted because of a teacher's win/lose record as a coach,           
 or because they are not volunteering enough after the work day.               
 Effectively, it would allow a person's career to be ended based on            
 a plan of improvement which the teacher had no input or is not                
 necessarily related to their performance as a teacher.  He stressed           
 this is a serious consideration; this is a person who has chosen a            
 career path in which they've invested tens of thousands of dollars            
 to achieve and must maintain a certificate to continue in that                
 career, yet this would allow a relatively arbitrary criteria to be            
 the factor determining their loss of a job.  He supports the                  
 Governor's compromise bill and believes it to be a good alternative           
 that should be considered.                                                    
 BILL MUNROE, President, Classified Employees Association, Mat-Su              
 Borough School District, testified via teleconference.  He                    
 expressed his opposition to various parts of this bill.  On page 2,           
 line 28, Section 3 (c), he said there will be a cost associated and           
 it appeared to him to be an unfunded mandate.  He asked what the              
 financial impact would be on a district of having to train people             
 to evaluate employees.  As the local association president, he has            
 had opportunity to watch people go through plans of improvement for           
 various reasons.  Some times the reasons for a plan of improvement            
 are legitimate employer concerns, but sometimes not.  There are               
 times when it is used as a tool to improve an employee's                      
 performance and sometimes not.  He has seen evaluations that have             
 been abused or ignored.  To say that a teacher can be terminated              
 because they fail to meet a plan of improvement with no other                 
 recourse, is probably giving too much power to an administrator               
 with that particular tool.  In his view, the plan of improvement              
 should be used particularly to improve an employee's performance.             
 Sometimes that is not possible, but there are ways of dealing with            
 tenured teachers, and those ways have worked when management                  
 exercised its right to evaluate employees fairly.                             
 Number 1090                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Mr. Munroe had a position on the part of              
 the bill that would involve an evaluation of administrators.                  
 MR. MUNROE said there exists ample opportunity for administration             
 evaluation.  In his school district, they have what is called                 
 (indisc.) and various other standardized policy procedures                    
 instituted by the school board that allow for evaluation of any               
 employee whether it be the superintendent or the custodian.  He               
 felt there was a viable working process in place that addressed               
 those concerns.                                                               
 MR. WRIGHT referenced Mr. Munroe's question regarding the costs               
 involved for the evaluation system and said there would be costs              
 involved in training someone to use the evaluation system no matter           
 what evaluation system is used, whether it's in HB 398, HB 217 or             
 HB 465.  He added they have not tried to figure out what the cost             
 would be for these systems; that's something the local school                 
 district would undertake.                                                     
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE questioned if there was a fiscal note reflecting               
 those costs.                                                                  
 MR. WRIGHT responded not for the local school districts.  The                 
 attached fiscal note is from the Department of Education who has              
 stated there would be no fiscal impact of the department.  This               
 impact would be undertaken by each school district.                           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the unfunded mandate then has some validity,              
 but that would be a cost the district would have to address in                
 their budget.                                                                 
 MR. WRIGHT replied that if the evaluations suggested by the task              
 force or in any other legislation were going to be imposed, he                
 didn't think there was a way to avoid unfunded mandates in any                
 relationship between the state and districts or local government.             
 Number 1206                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY said it was his understanding that we're              
 trying to change from the current mediation/litigation procedure              
 that has a different cost to each school district to the evaluation           
 process which would be no more expensive, and hopefully less                  
 expensive, than the current process.                                          
 MR. WRIGHT said it is also their hope to improve the quality of               
 education.  He pointed out there are excellent teachers throughout            
 the system and children are receiving a good education, but there             
 are some teachers who are not up to standard with other teachers.             
 The approach under this bill would be to do the evaluation, go to             
 the plan of improvement and reevaluate again.  The goal is to                 
 improve the quality of education anyway we can.                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the intent was the evaluation system            
 would be no more expensive or perhaps cheaper than the current                
 system of arbitration and litigation.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he believed that costs would still be                
 incurred in staff management in various districts.  House Bill 465            
 is trying to improve performance of teachers.  It is his                      
 understanding there are costs incurred with cases that are                    
 currently in the courts.  This legislation addresses the trial de             
 novo portion of the statute.                                                  
 Number 1362                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked Representative Ivan if he could                
 briefly explain the system proposed under HB 465 versus the current           
 system for nonretaining a teacher.  What are the steps leading to             
 trial de novo?                                                                
 MR. WRIGHT said the steps being proposed under HB 465 in place of             
 the trial de novo are for dismissal:  (1) a pre-termination                   
 hearing; (2) school board for a decision; (3) arbitration; and (4)            
 superior court.  For nonretention, the pre-termination hearing is             
 the school board hearing, then arbitration and superior court on              
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE verified that it's pre-termination, school               
 board, arbitration and then superior court.  He asked what the                
 current process is.                                                           
 MR. WRIGHT replied he wasn't certain if there was a pre-termination           
 hearing, but there's a hearing at the school board level, then it             
 can go to superior court.  But the problem with going to superior             
 court under the current system is a whole new record can be                   
 established.  The record established at the school board hearing is           
 not valid in superior court.                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked which record under HB 465 would be                 
 established at the superior court - the pre-termination, school               
 board or the arbitration?                                                     
 MR. WRIGHT replied the record would begin with the first hearing              
 and be carried through the process.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE clarified that new information could be opened           
 up at each of the three levels and at no point during the three               
 step process would the findings be shut off.                                  
 MR. WRIGHT responded that was his understanding.  He added there              
 can be new findings, but the record that is established at the                
 first hearing follows through the process.  There is, however,                
 nothing to preclude someone from coming through with new findings.            
 Number 1526                                                                   
 DAVE PARSONS testified from Fairbanks in opposition to HB 465                 
 because he feels it has some problems.  The evaluation process                
 raises a red flag with him.  The evaluation is a relatively simple            
 process in his job as custodian because a person can come in after            
 he's done and tell whether or not he's done a good job.  He added             
 that basically any person off the street could come in and do an              
 evaluation.  However, when it involves teachers, the process gets             
 a bit more complicated.  First, a person can begin to wonder what             
 the motivations are for an evaluation; for example, if a school               
 district is having a problem meeting its financial obligations,               
 there could be an attempt to get rid of teachers that the district            
 wouldn't have been able to get rid of otherwise with these so-                
 called plans of improvement, which may or may not be realistic.               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that Representative Gail Phillips, Speaker of            
 the House, had joined the meeting.  Speaking for the school board             
 in Anchorage, Co-Chair Bunde said they were highly motivated and              
 jealously guard their powers and he doubted if they would accept              
 anyone off the street to make any decisions for them.                         
 Number 1692                                                                   
 LELA AYRES testified from Anchorage that she is a third grade                 
 teacher and one of her concerns is the plan of improvement.  She              
 was part of the Mat-Su committee that developed an evaluation                 
 process for the district.  The committee consisting of central                
 office administrators, principals from every level and teachers,              
 worked for over two years to refine the evaluation process they are           
 now working with.  A plan of improvement was one part of that                 
 process; it was a tool to be used when the principal saw the need.            
 She feels HB 465 reduces the plan of improvement to a weapon that             
 principals might be reluctant to use.  It is too open-ended and               
 ill-defined.  She urged the committee to support the Governor's               
 compromise bill.  There was time and effort spent by all aspects of           
 the community to develop that bill and it addresses everything that           
 is of concern to the committee.                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE observed that unfortunately the Governor's                     
 compromise bill did not involve all aspects of the community.  He             
 didn't believe it involved any legislators and that might have been           
 a useful inclusion.                                                           
 Number 1770                                                                   
 LUCY HOPE testified from Anchorage that she is concerned with the             
 provisions of HB 465 regarding the imposition of a plan of                    
 improvement.  She said when we, as teachers, develop an individual            
 education plan or an individual discipline plan for a student, the            
 student or the parents of the student are always involved in the              
 process.  In fact, the law requires they be involved in the                   
 development process.  It seems that teachers who are in need of an            
 individualized plan of improvement need to have involvement in that           
 process and in evaluating their progress.  Plans of improvement               
 need to be stated in measurable terms and require ongoing                     
 monitoring.  There are no provisions for any of those in this bill.           
 It is her feeling that a teacher could fail to meet a plan of                 
 improvement because the plan is too vague, the time limits were not           
 specified or the goals could be impossible to achieve.  If plans of           
 improvement are to be part of the law, it seems that the concerns             
 also need to be addressed just as they are for the student plans              
 that are currently in the law.                                                
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE advised Ms. Hope that her concerns had been noted by           
 Representative Ivan's staff.                                                  
 Number 1872                                                                   
 GAYLE PIERCE testified from Fairbanks regarding the removal of the            
 trial de novo.  She said she was having difficulty understanding              
 the provisions of the bill and wanted to ask some questions of                
 Representative Ivan.  She wanted to know who does the advisory                
 arbitration award advise.  It was her understanding that the                  
 advisory arbitrator's decision would provide advice to the school             
 board.  As far as she can tell, it is only the school board that is           
 (indisc.) to make the decision about the retention or nonretention            
 of the teacher.  She asked if that was a correct understanding or             
 does the advisory arbitration advise the court.  She added that               
 didn't make sense to her because changing to a judicial review from           
 a trial de nova suggests that it is only a procedural review.  It             
 was her understanding from reading the bill that by removing the              
 trial de novo or by not going by a binding arbitrator's report, it            
 removes any independent or neutral third party decision making.               
 She referred to the layoff provision and asked if it wasn't true              
 that given the funding in the last several years, every district              
 right now meets the test of not keeping pace with inflation.  It's            
 her understanding that if this bill was enacted, every district               
 would immediately qualify for decisions with regard to tenured                
 teacher layoff.                                                               
 MR. WRIGHT referred to page 6, line 30, which states "If the school           
 board sustains the dismissal or nonretention, the teacher is                  
 entitled to mandatory advisory arbitration conducted by a neutral             
 third party."  The feeling is that if it will strengthen the                  
 teacher's case, they are entitled to it.  It certainly is not                 
 something the teacher has to undergo; they can go to superior court           
 from the school board decision, if so desired.  In regards to Ms.             
 Pierce's second question, Mr. Wright said he didn't know if every             
 school district would meet the test of not keeping pace with                  
 inflation, but thinks there are some that definitely meet that.               
 Number 2085                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if inflation was calculated into the            
 MR. WRIGHT asked what Representative Rokeberg meant by calculated.            
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the witness testified that inflation             
 would cause a triple (indisc.) in terms of the layoff provisions.             
 MR. WRIGHT directed the committee's attention to page 4, line 23,             
 "the school board has determined that the district revenue averaged           
 over the past five school years has failed to keep pace, for the              
 same period, with inflation or the cost of changes in the                     
 requirements imposed on the district by state and state law;".                
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE speculated that the majority of districts in Alaska            
 have not kept pace with inflation, certainly not the last four                
 years when there has been flat funding.                                       
 MR. WRIGHT added that it's conceivable that every school district             
 probably could make that statement.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if this was something that was                  
 borrowed from the Governor's bill.                                            
 MR. WRIGHT said no.                                                           
 TAPE 96-11, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 007                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON inquired if a list of those districts           
 that have kept pace with inflation, if there is any, could be                 
 obtained through the department or the sponsor.                               
 MR. WRIGHT added he thought they were trying to come up with an               
 interpretation of a financial emergency, rather than leaving it               
 vague as it is in HB 217 and HB 398.                                          
 Number 100                                                                    
 RICHARD MAUER, Member, Delta/Greely School District, testified in             
 the capacity of legislative liaison for his school board.  He                 
 believes HB 465 contains many excellent tools that are going to               
 help in the Delta/Greely district.  Specifically, he wanted to                
 address the provision for layoffs based on declining student                  
 enrollment.  He said in his school district, there is a military              
 base that has been placed on the base realignment and closure list.           
 Between now and the year 2001, the base will be nearly closed down            
 completely.  The impact on the district's student enrollment is               
 dramatic.  Currently, they have 890 students and by the year 2001,            
 they are forecasting less than 500 students.  Under current law, if           
 teaching staff is reduced they have to nonretain and then go by               
 their negotiated agreement for seniority as far as what staff is              
 kept after they've gotten rid of the nontenured staff.  Under the             
 provisions of HB 465, it would give them, as a district, the                  
 opportunity to implement a plan to maintain their programs.  He               
 said an example is the district's science program where their                 
 chemistry teacher has no seniority; she has just gained tenure.  As           
 they reduce their students and the district has to nonretain, those           
 teachers with low seniority are the ones who will be going out the            
 door along with their science program.  Under the provisions of               
 this legislation, the district's plan could be implemented as to              
 which programs they want to keep and then institute layoff.  It is            
 helpful for the kids, but it also helps the teaching staff because            
 they are not nonretaining teaching staff.  If there is an economic            
 increase which brings the student population back up, these                   
 teachers could be brought back on.                                            
 Number 365                                                                    
 DEB GERMANO, Member, Kenai Peninsula School Board, testified she is           
 newly elected and is serving as the legislative liaison for the               
 board.  She referenced the previous comments regarding an emergency           
 situation of a district, and said it needed to be understood that             
 school boards want to do what is best for the children.  There are            
 37 sites in the Kenai Peninsula School District.  An emergency                
 situation of laying off is not something they anticipate; they are            
 always looking to increase staff not decrease it.  She said it                
 would be nice for them to have the flexibility to layoff staff in             
 the emergency situations, but the intent is not there for the Kenai           
 Peninsula School District or for that matter any other district, to           
 look at laying off people to gain money for other things.  With               
 reference to the evaluation process, she thought there was some               
 compromise or adjustments that needed to be made.  She believes it            
 is very important and needed to ensure that the staff is the best             
 they could have for the children.  A quality education is what we             
 all want for our children and this gives the school boards local              
 control to address the needs of the children locally.  The school             
 boards are the people who are looking at the kids.                            
 Number 559                                                                    
 MARILYN LEEHY, President, Valdez School District, testified this is           
 an important piece of legislation for the Valdez School District              
 both in terms of the layoff provision and the professional                    
 standards they would like to be able to establish and maintain in             
 their schools.  She mentioned that concern had been expressed about           
 what those standards are, but as elected officials, it is their               
 obligation, job and duty to ensure that professionals are up to               
 those professional standards.  She commented the Valdez School                
 District has those standards in place now, but they aren't                    
 necessarily enforced because whether or not they are applied                  
 doesn't affect the schools.  She said, "We'd like to have the                 
 opportunity to make sure that if these standards are in place, that           
 they mean something and that we can do more than determine which              
 teachers are incompetent, but also have some way of determining               
 whether or not they are actually performing to an adequate                    
 standard; at least a satisfactory standard and there's a big                  
 difference which I think this bill addresses between whether or not           
 a teacher is incompetent, which is cause for removal at the moment,           
 as to whether or not that person can be retained in the district              
 because their performance satisfies the standards that have been              
 MS. LEEHY addressed the issue of process for removal and said it              
 was important for committee members to know that when the school              
 board meets to review this issue, they meet as a quasi-judicial               
 body and they are bound by rules of law.  They put together a full            
 legal process and after that legal process is complete, after the             
 rules of law have been established, they have to do it again.  This           
 legislation provides that once that record has been established -             
 the conditions have been met for making sure the rights of the                
 individual have been maintained, then that individual has the right           
 to go on from there and review the school board's work in superior            
 court to make sure the board did what they were supposed to do in             
 the proper way, but not to start all over again from ground zero.             
 The effect of that is to make it very difficult for school boards             
 to afford the process of enforcing the standards they like to see.            
 Number 727                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy's reaction to the notion of this               
 being an unfunded mandate and school districts having to spend some           
 time and money establishing an evaluation procedure.                          
 MS. LEEHY said she thought the assumption was that the school                 
 districts were not already doing that.  She believes this could be            
 used to improve the evaluation process and it may indeed cause some           
 problems in the smaller districts for organizing the access to put            
 together the plan.  It is not to say the districts aren't already             
 evaluating or don't already have instruments in place.  It's part             
 of the operating expenses and part of what is already done.                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy as a school board member, to                   
 conceptualize how an evaluation team might be put together.                   
 MS. LEEHY replied there were professionals to do that.  They employ           
 a staff who are highly paid and well-trained.  This bill provides             
 for input and she didn't think their obligations should be pushed             
 off onto people who don't have the training.  She thinks this bill            
 also provides that if the school board does it wrong, they are                
 accountable for it.  If these standards are not applied properly,             
 it will come back on her on election day.                                     
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she anticipated a problem                   
 establishing the peer review portion of the legislation.                      
 MS. LEEHY responded she did.  She thinks it is unfair to ask                  
 teachers to comment on another teacher's adequacy for employment.             
 She feels that's what the school board gets paid to do and they               
 establish the standards.  There is a great deal of opportunity for            
 personal perspectives to color the judgment of one teacher to                 
 another.  The principals and administrators are the ones who see              
 the overall view of the school and are best suited to accomplish              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she thought teachers were                   
 professionals and able to judge competent teaching.                           
 MS. LEEHY said she thinks teachers are professionals, but she hopes           
 their entire orientation is looking for the best in the people                
 around them and try to encourage and magnify that.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Valdez had a teacher mentoring                  
 program instead of a teacher review process.                                  
 MS. LEEHY responded they didn't, but she thinks it is an excellent            
 idea, but it would involve some money.                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referenced Ms. Leehy's previous statement             
 regarding the issue of incompetency as a cause for nonretention and           
 remarked that HB 465 replaces that with the plan of improvement.              
 He asked if that would take a tool away from the school board and             
 create a situation where a teacher would not be able to be removed            
 for one year, because the plan of improvement in HB 465 allows for            
 an entire year of evaluation.                                                 
 MS. LEEHY said she wasn't worried about that because they don't               
 hire incompetent teachers.  She added that after the evaluation               
 period, there is no reason why they should have an incompetent                
 teacher.  If something has happened to a teacher that is causing              
 them to not perform at the standard, she wants to be able to work             
 with that teacher.  The school district has invested a great deal             
 in their professionals and the stability of the district and the              
 staff is of importance to them.                                               
 Number 1030                                                                   
 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner,                
 Department of Education, said the department recognizes the hard              
 work that Representative Ivan has devoted to these difficult issues           
 both last year and again this year.  This bill, HB 465, does                  
 incorporate the "subject areas" contained also in the Governor's              
 compromise bill, but deals with the subject areas in a different              
 way.  She said the Department of Education agrees these five issues           
 can be addressed in legislation this year:  Lengthening the teacher           
 probationary period; improving the teacher evaluation process;                
 increasing public information in the collective bargaining process;           
 eliminating the trial de novo, which has been an expense to school            
 districts; and increase the school district's ability to determine            
 how and when teachers are laid off.  The department believes that             
 a bill amending these items needs to be carefully crafted so the              
 best information and the broadest consensus is available.                     
 MS. HOMME stated this Administration's bill contained all of these            
 issues, as well.  Each one of these issues can be addressed in a              
 bill the Administration can support.  The department is willing to            
 work with Representative Ivan, the HESS Committee and others.                 
 Commissioner Holloway has met with Representative Ivan and has                
 requested his cooperation in this endeavor.  Representative Ivan              
 has agreed to meet to discuss possible changes.  The department               
 would like to work through the unacceptable provisions of the                 
 legislation and explore possible changes with him.                            
 MS. HOMME presented a brief history of the various bills.  The                
 Governor vetoed HB 217 last year because it was felt that it didn't           
 adequately address the real issues of the education system.  The              
 Governor promised to work on the problems that face the rural                 
 school boards especially and asked Commissioner Holloway to form a            
 group of people to work on the issues and take a fresh approach to            
 studying the contentious issues of HB 217.  Thus, the development             
 of HB 398 which the department thinks will promote excellence in              
 education.  Involved in that group were a variety of people, not              
 legislators as Representative Bunde duly noted, but parents,                  
 teachers, school board members, the State Board of Education,                 
 school administrators and the university.  All of the issues in HB            
 217 were contained in HB 398.                                                 
 MS. HOMME advised that HB 465 would be acceptable to the department           
 if it contained provisions that need to be made to better reflect             
 the compromise piece of legislation.  As it is written, it is                 
 divisive in the education community.  She noted that committee                
 members had been provided a packet which included a list of                   
 resolutions that came from all the different varieties of education           
 community groups; i.e., Association of School Boards, elementary              
 principals, secondary principals, et cetera.  In summary, Ms. Homme           
 said these different groups felt these issues could be addressed              
 this year.  The department believes they can work with the sponsor            
 to deal with some of the potentially divisive issues in HB 465.               
 Number 1284                                                                   
 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards,           
 summarized that he made an attempt to try to address HB 465 from              
 the standpoint of quality, performance, fairness and                          
 accountability.  If there are measures in this piece of legislation           
 that's threatening, he really wants to discuss them.  He said he              
 was willing to work with anyone to address those issues and added             
 there were a number of things that have been of concern to school             
 board members.  As everyone is aware, they are elected officials;             
 they are held accountable and are responsible for the oversight of            
 the school districts.  They are asking for the authority to do some           
 things that affect the quality of education.  Unfortunately, the              
 school boards may get those tools as a result of financial                    
 emergency.  The Association of Alaska School Boards thinks these              
 tools should be in place for their use currently.  They need the              
 money to operate the schools.  In the absence of that and if the              
 school has an emergency, the tools are needed to ensure that the              
 programs that are provided or the qualifications that are going to            
 be determined are not negotiable, but determined by local elected             
 officials.  He would like the opportunity to discuss that issue               
 with committee members.                                                       
 Number 1350                                                                   
 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School                 
 Administrators, asked that the record reflect their concern with              
 the section of the bill that deals with the dismissal of the                  
 administrator if the responsibilities of the evaluation process are           
 not carried out.  He noted the Alaska Council of School                       
 Administrators has submitted some substitute language to the                  
 sponsor, which he understood is a friendly amendment being                    
 considered by Representative Ivan.  He added the council had other            
 comments regarding the rest of the bill which he would like the               
 opportunity to discuss at a later time.                                       
 Number 1391                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced the HESS Committee would hear HB 465 again           
 at the request of the sponsor.  He understood there would be                  
 additional work done on the bill, so rather than give a date                  
 certain, it will be heard again at the request of the sponsor.  The           
 hearing will be noticed and additional time allotted for testimony.           
 Number 1404                                                                   
 CAREN ROBINSON said she would like to have a comparison of the                
 different bills that deal with this issue.  She expressed her                 
 desire to sit down in a working group and come up with a bill that            
 could be supported by all HESS committee members.  She appreciates            
 all the work done by the sponsor and has made her concerns known to           
 the department that it was an unfortunate mistake not to include              
 Representative Ivan in the group.  She commented the perspectives             
 which come from the rural areas are very different from the urban             
 areas and she is hopeful that in looking at this issue, they can be           
 sensitive to those different perspectives.                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects