Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/09/2015 03:30 PM Senate COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Moved SCS CSHB 146(CRA) Out of Committee
         SB 79-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                     
3:37:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP announced the consideration of SB 79.                                                                              
3:38:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SHEILA  PETERSON,  Staff,  Senator Mike  Dunleavy,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, said  she would  address SB  79 and                                                               
the committee substitute that passed  out of the Senate Education                                                               
MS. PETERSON revealed  that Alaska is experiencing  a shortage of                                                               
qualified educators,  especially in hard  to fill areas,  and the                                                               
situation  is  compounded  by  the  drastic  reduction  in  state                                                               
revenue  due to  lower oil  prices. SB  79 expands  the pool  for                                                               
experienced   and   qualified   teachers  available   to   school                                                               
districts. SB  79 becomes another  tool for the  school districts                                                               
to be able to reach and educate Alaska's students.                                                                              
She set forth  that the bill allows school  districts to reemploy                                                               
educators younger than 62 who have  been retired for one year, or                                                               
educators older  than 62  who have  been retired  for at  least 3                                                               
months.  She specified  that SB  79 will  not require  any school                                                               
district  to reemploy  any particular  individual, the  bill only                                                               
gives the  school district the  option to  do so. She  noted that                                                               
educators  rehired   under  the  bill's  proviso   receive  their                                                               
retirement benefits during the period of reemployment.                                                                          
3:39:47 PM                                                                                                                    
She   explained  that   the  Division   of  Retirement   Benefits                                                               
recommended  that  the  CS  in  the  Senate  Education  Committee                                                               
require school  districts to  pay the  standard 12.56  percent to                                                               
the  Teachers'  Retirement System  (TRS)  that  is based  on  the                                                               
educator's salary. She  noted that the standard  12.56 percent is                                                               
the  same rate  that the  school  districts must  pay for  active                                                               
She revealed  that a  recent Alaska  Teacher Placement  (ATP) Job                                                               
Fair had 707  openings for teachers and  administrators, only 265                                                               
candidates attended.  She asserted  that the  job fair  shows the                                                               
disparity between people  looking for jobs and  the openings that                                                               
school districts have.                                                                                                          
She summarized that SB 79  does not replace active employees, but                                                               
provides school districts  with another tool to be  able to staff                                                               
their schools.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR HOFFMAN asked where the job fair openings were located.                                                                 
MS. PETERSON  replied that  she did not  know, but  would provide                                                               
additional information.                                                                                                         
3:41:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  to verify  that a  local school  district                                                               
pays the normal 12.56 percent TRS  rate. He asked what the future                                                               
accumulated benefits are  when a rehired-teacher is  pulling in a                                                               
MS. PETERSON explained that Senator  Dunleavy envisioned a school                                                               
district first  going to active  employees to fill  positions and                                                               
then turning to retired teachers  if a position cannot be filled.                                                               
She  added  that  a  reemployed   teacher  would  maintain  their                                                               
retirement benefits throughout their reemployment period.                                                                       
SENATOR STEDMAN asked that Ms.  Peterson address the accumulation                                                               
of any future additional benefits.                                                                                              
MS. PETERSON replied that there  is no accumulation of any future                                                               
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  to  verify  that there  is  no impact  on                                                               
potential  unfunded liabilities  where the  school district  just                                                               
pays the 12.56 percent to help mitigate the unfunded liability.                                                                 
MS. PETERSON  answered that Senator  Dunleavy asked  the Division                                                               
of Retirement  and Benefits  to submit  a reasonable  fiscal note                                                               
that would  not slow down  the bill's concept and  provide school                                                               
districts  with   another  hiring   tool.  She  noted   that  the                                                               
division's actuary was concerned  that current employees might be                                                               
incentivized  to  retire  early  and  go back  on  the  rolls  as                                                               
reemployed retired  teachers. She asserted that  Senator Dunleavy                                                               
does not think the actuary's concerns  would be the case, but the                                                               
CS proposed in the Senate  Education Committee helps mitigate any                                                               
potential increase into the unfunded liability.                                                                                 
3:44:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP asked how many  school districts will be impacted by                                                               
SB 79.                                                                                                                          
MS. PETERSON replied  that school districts have  been asking for                                                               
the option  provided by  SB 79.  She surmised that  a third  to a                                                               
half  of  Alaska's 53  school  districts  will be  interested  in                                                               
rehiring retired  teachers. She  explained that  Senator Dunleavy                                                               
envisions the  bill's benefit, particularly in  rural Alaska with                                                               
30  percent  turnover  rate,  is to  supplement  new  hires  with                                                               
experienced teachers that know Alaska and  can act as a mentor to                                                               
the new  teachers. She noted  that Senator Dunleavy was  a leader                                                               
several years  ago of  the mentor program  and saw  firsthand the                                                               
benefits from mentoring.                                                                                                        
3:47:02 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Executive Director,  Alaska Council of School                                                               
Administrators,  and  Alaska Superintendents  Association  (ASA),                                                               
Juneau, Alaska,  said she had  prepared testimony but  would also                                                               
answer questions.                                                                                                               
CHAIR BISHOP  asked for hypotheticals  that could be  employed if                                                               
SB 79 became law.                                                                                                               
MS. SKILES PARADY revealed turnover rates as follows:                                                                           
   · 30 percent or higher in rural areas,                                                                                       
   · 7 percent or higher for teachers in urban areas,                                                                           
   · 14 percent for principals,                                                                                                 
   · 50 percent for superintendents new to Alaska over the past                                                                 
     2 years.                                                                                                                   
She  explained  that  in  terms  of  answering  Senator  Bishop's                                                               
question  will  depend  on  the  position's  greater  need  where                                                               
rehiring retired superintendents will  be used more than rehiring                                                               
retired urban teachers.                                                                                                         
She provided  a breakdown of  707 positions available at  the ATP                                                               
Job Fair as follows:                                                                                                            
   · administrative positions: 53,                                                                                              
   · athletic positions: 15,                                                                                                    
   · elementary teaching positions: 125,                                                                                        
   · high school teaching positions: 115,                                                                                       
   · middle school teaching positions: 43,                                                                                      
   · nutrition services and other: 116,                                                                                         
   · student support services: 131.                                                                                             
She pointed out that the 265  people attending the recent ATP Job                                                               
Fair  in addition  to  the University  of  Alaska (UA)  producing                                                               
about 250 people shows that there is a supply-demand issue.                                                                     
She said questions  have been asked whether new  teachers will be                                                               
denied the  opportunity to take  the positions;  school districts                                                               
wish  they  had  that  problem,  but  that  is  not  the  current                                                               
She summarized  that rehiring retired  teachers will  see limited                                                               
use,  but the  ability to  rehire  retired teachers  will add  an                                                               
additional  tool. She  surmised  that under  half  of the  school                                                               
districts will rehire retired teachers.                                                                                         
3:50:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP noted that there  are 53 school districts in Alaska.                                                               
He asked that  Ms. Skiles Parady provide an  approximation of how                                                               
many positions would be filled by rehired retirees.                                                                             
MS.  SKILES PARADY  answered  that less  than  200 teachers  were                                                               
hired the  last time rehiring retirees  was in law. She  said the                                                               
school districts'  needs are greater  now, but  rehiring retirees                                                               
should be comparable.  She noted that 85 percent  of UA graduates                                                               
are working  in education occupations,  but a greater  need still                                                               
3:52:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked what  the current  status was  for retire-                                                               
MS. SKILES PARADY  answered that school districts  are allowed to                                                               
hire up  to 49 percent of  the time for a  position. She admitted                                                               
that  recruiting someone  for  a halftime  position  in a  highly                                                               
qualified or  high needs  area like  special education,  math, or                                                               
science is almost impossible to do.                                                                                             
3:54:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  that Ms.  Skiles Parady  explain what  49                                                               
percent means.                                                                                                                  
MS. SKILES PARADY  answered that 49 percent refers  to time where                                                               
49 percent is less than halftime.                                                                                               
SENATOR HOFFMAN  noted that the  turnover rates for  rural Alaska                                                               
was 30  percent and 7 percent  in urban Alaska. He  asked why the                                                               
intent  was  to  make  the program  statewide  when  the  obvious                                                               
problem is  in rural Alaska.  He inquired why the  legislation is                                                               
not  made to  address only  hiring retired  individuals in  areas                                                               
that have the highest turnover percentage.                                                                                      
MS.  SKILES PARADY  concurred that  there  is a  greater need  in                                                               
rural Alaska, but noted that  one of the largest school districts                                                               
has suffered  from not  being able  to recruit  special education                                                               
teachers.  She  stated  that   the  teachers  and  administrators                                                               
shortage is a  statewide issue that impacts both  rural and urban                                                               
3:56:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOFFMAN  asked if there is  anything that can be  done to                                                               
address the  areas in the  state that have the  highest turnover.                                                               
He said  the legislation seems  to set  into motion a  program to                                                               
hire retirees to  address a statewide problem, but  four times as                                                               
much  of  a problem  in  rural  Alaska  versus urban  Alaska.  He                                                               
asserted that  the majority of  retire-rehires will occur  in the                                                               
urban areas.                                                                                                                    
MS. SKILES  PARADY answered that  she agreed that  recruiting for                                                               
rural areas is  more difficult, but urban  areas struggle equally                                                               
to  recruit highly  specialized areas  where teachers  in special                                                               
education, math, and  science are in short supply  both in Alaska                                                               
and  nationally. She  noted that  retire-rehire is  one of  ASA's                                                               
highest priorities.                                                                                                             
3:58:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HOFFMAN   asked  what  the  special   education  teacher                                                               
turnover  rates were  in rural  versus urban  Alaska. He  assumed                                                               
that special education teachers are  more specialized and tend to                                                               
look at getting employed in urban areas.                                                                                        
MS. SKILES PARADY responded that  she will provide specific data.                                                               
She conceded that specialized positions  are hard to recruit for.                                                               
She  said  131  specialized  openings exist  and  the  number  of                                                               
positions open climbs every day.                                                                                                
SENATOR HOFFMAN asked if the Legislature  should wait on SB 79 to                                                               
see exactly what  happens with teacher layoffs due  to the budget                                                               
cuts that are being contemplated.                                                                                               
MS. SKILES  PARADY replied  that ASA  hopes that  the Legislature                                                               
passes  SB  79  because  districts are  not  required  to  rehire                                                               
retirees,  but  the  legislation   provides  another  tool  as  a                                                               
SENATOR HOFFMAN asked  if there are programs  or legislation that                                                               
can be  proposed to  target hiring teachers  in rural  Alaska and                                                               
does ASA have any recommendations in that regard.                                                                               
4:01:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SKILES  PARADY replied that  ASA supports all  districts. She                                                               
noted  that  ASA  has  been  on  record  supporting  things  like                                                               
mentoring. She stated that mentoring  focuses on rural Alaska and                                                               
is a best practice to retain teachers.                                                                                          
SENATOR HOFFMAN responded that mentoring  is an existing program.                                                               
He asked if  ASA has any new recommendations to  address the high                                                               
turnover rate in rural Alaska.                                                                                                  
MS. SKILES  PARADY answered  that SB 79  is legislation  that has                                                               
come directly from superintendents in rural areas.                                                                              
SENATOR HOFFMAN  asked specifically  if legislation is  being put                                                               
forward  that  is aimed  at  those  areas  that have  30  percent                                                               
turnover, not  over-arching legislation that addresses  the whole                                                               
MS.  SKILES PARADY  replied that  ASA has  not put  forward ideas                                                               
specific to the 30 percent turnover rate in rural Alaska.                                                                       
SENATOR HOFFMAN asked which state  organization is looking at the                                                               
high  turnover rate  in  rural Alaska  and is  trying  to find  a                                                               
MS. SKILES PARADY answered that  ASA and the Alaska School Boards                                                               
Association  are the  two organizations.  She  remarked that  not                                                               
splitting between urban  and rural is a very  important tenet for                                                               
both organizations. She  said ASA advocates for  the entire state                                                               
and  both urban  and  rural  areas are  suffering  from the  high                                                               
turnover rate.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR HOFFMAN  replied that  he is not  trying to  divide urban                                                               
and  rural. He  detailed that  he is  trying to  acknowledge that                                                               
there is four times the problem  in rural Alaska than there is in                                                               
urban  Alaska.  He  said  students suffer  when  there  are  high                                                               
turnover rates and asked what can  be done to get the students in                                                               
rural Alaska on parity by reducing the turnover rate.                                                                           
4:04:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP asked that when  exit reviews are done, why teachers                                                               
and  superintendents are  leaving.  He remarked  that fixing  the                                                               
turnover  rate cannot  be done  until the  reason for  leaving is                                                               
known.  He  pointed  out  that there  are  rural  districts  with                                                               
teachers  that have  served  for 20  years.  He recommended  that                                                               
rural  districts that  have  retained teachers  for  20 years  be                                                               
asked how  they are doing it.  He noted another problem  where he                                                               
knows  UA-Fairbanks  graduates  that have  applied  for  teaching                                                               
positions that  could not  get hired in  Alaska, but  states like                                                               
Arizona have hired them immediately.                                                                                            
4:07:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN  revealed  that  he  has 12  of  the  53  school                                                               
districts  in his  district and  he monitors  turnover rates  and                                                               
performance scores.  He said  he does  not have  a good  feel for                                                               
regional  data on  the state's  other school  districts. He  said                                                               
having additional data  for the bill will allow  the committee to                                                               
focus  on  either the  problem  areas  versus a  broad  statewide                                                               
MS. SKILES PARADY  replied that she will provide  a turnover rate                                                               
breakdown  by  geographic  area.  She  addressed  Chair  Bishop's                                                               
previous statement  and noted that  districts do read  their exit                                                               
interviews.  She added  that part  of  what has  happened is  the                                                               
state  has   lost  competitiveness  in  terms   of  salaries  and                                                               
retirement benefits. She  asserted that Alaska no  longer is able                                                               
to hold its  own against the Lower 48,  particularly with pending                                                               
district   cuts.   She  noted   that   rural   areas  also   face                                                               
technological issues due to internet limitations.                                                                               
4:10:35 PM                                                                                                                    
PETER  HOEPFNER,   member,  Cordova  School  District   Board  of                                                               
Education, Cordova, Alaska, stated  that SB 79, the retire-rehire                                                               
bill,  is  a good  bill.  He  revealed  that the  Cordova  School                                                               
District faced a  sudden departure of its  superintendent in mid-                                                               
July  and was  allowed  special dispensation  to  hire a  retired                                                               
superintendent  for the  school year.  He said  SB 79  will allow                                                               
districts  to  utilize  teachers   and  administrators  during  a                                                               
crisis. He  set forth that  the bill  would be an  excellent tool                                                               
that districts  could use to  fill positions critical  to schools                                                               
when facing an  unexpected vacancy outside of  the regular hiring                                                               
season. He pointed  out that there are not an  adequate number of                                                               
teachers  applying  for  all  of   the  open  positions  and  the                                                               
superintendent pool has been diminishing  over the past number of                                                               
4:13:35 PM                                                                                                                    
PEGGY   COWAN,  Superintendent,   North   Slope  Borough   School                                                               
District,  Barrow, Alaska,  stated that  she supports  SB 79  and                                                               
noted that the  Alaska Council of School  Administrators made the                                                               
bill's legislation one of its  statewide priorities. She revealed                                                               
that the  North Slope  Borough School  District has  27 vacancies                                                               
remaining and  added that a  teacher resigned prior to  the start                                                               
of  the previous  year and  the position  was not  replaced until                                                               
January.  She   asserted  that  the   bill  would   help  provide                                                               
flexibility for a district in  high quality hires. She noted that                                                               
she  was superintendent  in Juneau  when  a similar  bill was  in                                                               
place and the district rarely used  it, but the district did hire                                                               
retirees mostly  for specialist positions.  She pointed  out that                                                               
the  new amendment  where the  districts are  billed for  the TRS                                                               
retirement  was different  than it  has been  with Alaska  Public                                                               
Employees' Retirement  System (PERS).  She remarked that  she was                                                               
wondering why there is a difference with TRS and PERS.                                                                          
4:17:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  REITAN,  Superintendent,   Galena  City  School  District,                                                               
Galena, Alaska,  stated that SB 79  was a good bill  and provides                                                               
one extra  tool for  school districts  in the  recruiting process                                                               
with  no  financial  harm  to  the state.  He  pointed  out  that                                                               
superintendents have  turned over  quite a bit  in the  state and                                                               
districts are scrambling to find  administrators who have Alaskan                                                               
experience and  success who can  provide dedicated  leadership in                                                               
difficult times.  He summarized that  the bill provides  one more                                                               
avenue  to fill  high needs  areas and  positions that  cannot be                                                               
4:19:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DEENA  PARAMO, Superintendent,  Matanuska-Susitna Borough  School                                                               
District,  Palmer,  Alaska,  stated  that for  years  the  Mat-Su                                                               
School  District  has  accessed   the  extensive  experience  and                                                               
expertise  of retired  employees  and educators  by allowing  for                                                               
temporary  and part-time  employment opportunities.  She asserted                                                               
that the district's  efforts to capitalize on  a talented veteran                                                               
workforce  have  been severely  limited  without  a provision  to                                                               
allow for  the unrestricted reemployment  of retirees such  as SB
MS.  PARAMO stated  that  as she  understands  the proposed  bill                                                               
would  permit  districts to  essentially  enter  into an  at-will                                                               
employment agreement with a retired  teacher or administrator, so                                                               
long as the  individual has been retired for 3  months or a year,                                                               
depending  on  age. She  detailed  that  current protections  and                                                               
benefits such as  tenure, sick leave, and  health insurance would                                                               
not  be required  as the  nature of  the employment  relationship                                                               
with a retired individual.                                                                                                      
She  assured  the  committee that  the  reemployment  of  retired                                                               
teachers  is not  pursued  in Mat-Su  to avoid  the  hire of  new                                                               
teachers.  She said  retirees fill  gaps when  properly certified                                                               
staff cannot  be hired in hard  to fill areas. She  added that SB
79  can provide  significant  savings where  certain costs,  most                                                               
notably  health  insurance, would  not  need  to be  provided  to                                                               
retirees. She remarked  that savings could be  redirected back to                                                               
the  classroom environment  or even  used to  hire new  classroom                                                               
She  concurred with  Senator Hoffman's  sentiment  in regards  to                                                               
incentivizing  rural  Alaska  for  teachers.  She  proposed  that                                                               
another bill come forward where  individuals are offered an extra                                                               
$10,000 per  year to be collected  after the third or  fifth year                                                               
of   rural-service.  She   summarized   that   having  a   stable                                                               
educational  environment  was  an  imperative  for  children  all                                                               
around Alaska.                                                                                                                  
4:22:26 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK MAYER,  Superintendent, Wrangell Public  School District,                                                               
Wrangell,  Alaska,  said  he supports  the  legislation  but  was                                                               
puzzled   to  see   the  amendment   suggesting   a  12   percent                                                               
contribution  for rehires  paid for  by the  school district.  He                                                               
said   there  is   a  shortage   of  teachers,   principals,  and                                                               
superintendents.   He   added   that  the   turnover   rate   for                                                               
superintendents has  been 50  percent over the  past 2  years. He                                                               
noted that there is a  national shortage of teachers and asserted                                                               
that Alaska  was not  competitive in  benefits and  salaries with                                                               
the Lower  48, especially in recruiting  special education, math,                                                               
and science educators.                                                                                                          
MR. MAYER  remarked that  the bill  is not a  tool to  misuse and                                                               
will  be used  when needed,  but  he asserted  that the  district                                                               
encourages new hires  to fill vacant spots. He set  forth that SB
79  would allow  districts to  fill  positions in  a manner  that                                                               
won't negatively  impact a retired  teacher where  the individual                                                               
would  continue to  collect their  retirement benefits  while the                                                               
cost of the  district would be minimal. He summarized  that SB 79                                                               
would be a  great tool in the district's toolbox  in allowing the                                                               
option of employing retired teachers.                                                                                           
4:24:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY  MCMAHON,  President-Elect,  Alaska  Association  of  School                                                               
Principals, Palmer, Alaska,  stated that SB 79  would provide the                                                               
best educators by increasing the  pool of candidates for Alaska's                                                               
students, especially  when the state  is experiencing  a shortage                                                               
in securing  quality candidates.  She remarked  that she  did not                                                               
have a  concern in people retiring  and wanting to get  back into                                                               
the system  right away. She  set forth that retirees  that return                                                               
to public education could very well  be the best candidates to do                                                               
the job in serving the best interests of students and schools.                                                                  
4:27:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP  closed public  testimony and  announced that  SB 79                                                               
would  be held  in committee.  He called  on school  districts to                                                               
consider how  they are planning  for succession in  growing their                                                               
own teachers, principals, and superintendents.                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 88.PDF SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 Sponsor Statement.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 Sectional 2015-04-02.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 Hearing req CRA 2015-04-02 Letterhead.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
CSHB 146 version H.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
HB 146
CSHB 146 version H Resolution.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
HB 146
SB 79 Dr. Paramo Support.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 79 Legislation.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 79 Support Email.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CS for SB 79 Legislation.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CS for SB 79 (EDC) Sponsor Statement.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CS for SB 79 (EDC) Changes.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CS for SB 79 (EDC) Legislation.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
SB 79 Superintendent Turnover.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CS for SB 79 (EDC) Sectional Analysis.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79
CSHB 146 Fiscal Note.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
HB 146
CSSB 79 Fiscal Note.pdf SCRA 4/9/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 79