Senators Joe Paskvan, Dennis Egan, and Gary Stevens during the closeout hearing of the Senate Finance DEED Subcommittee, March 20, 2012
This blog contains highlights from the Alaska Education Update. The update is issued daily during session and contains detailed summaries of education issues under consideration by the Alaska State Legislature. If there is a hearing on a Monday, a report will, with few exceptions, be released by Tuesday morning. There is also a weekly edition of the update. During interim, reports are issued only when there has been action. Interim action may include hearings, bill signings, the release of the Governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and other items that may be of interest to the education community.

To subscribe to full reports, contact Shana Crondahl at (907) 500-7069 or To subscribe to blog posts, submit your email:

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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Guide to Special Education Advocacy

I came across A Guide to Special Education Advocacy, by Matthew Cohen by chance on the new books shelf at the Mendenhall Valley Library here in Juneau. It has detailed up-to-date information on the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA and the IDEA 2006 regulations. This book should be very helpful to any parent trying to advocate for their child, as well as classroom and special education teachers and administrators because of the detailed information on federal regulations regarding IDEA and Section 504, with specific CFR citations.

The book also contains a comparison of Section 504 plans versus IDEA 2004.  It dispels the idea that Section 504 is only applicable to students with health issues, and explains when one is preferable to the other. "Each law has advantages for children with disabilities depending on the circumstances of the child, the school, and the particular issue. At the most general level, IDEA is more likely to be of use to children who require a greater intensity of specialized instructional services and/or related services, who have more complex needs, and/or when there is a greater need for specificity in planning for the child, protecting the child’s procedural rights, or holding the school accountable regarding issues of implementation. By contrast, Section 504 is typically of greater utility if the child’s needs are less complex, if the child has a disability that does not qualify him or her for special education, or when the child needs only accommodations, as opposed to special education" (p. 236).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

27th Alaska State Legislature, House & Senate Leadership, Chairmen, Finance Committee Members

House Leadership
Speaker: Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski
Majority Leader: Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak
Majority Whip: Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell
Bush Caucus: Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue
Minority Leader: Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau
Minority Whip: Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage
Minority Floor Leader: Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage

House Standing Committees
Community & Regional Affairs: Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau
Education: Alan Dick, R-Stony River
Finance Co-Chairmen: Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak/Mat-Su (Capital Budget) & Bill Thomas, R-Haines (Operating Budget); Other Members: Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River (Vice-Chair); Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue; Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham; Mark Neuman, R-Mat-Su Valley; Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole; Mia Costello, R-Anchorage; Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage; Les Gara, D-Anchorage; David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks
Health & Social Services: Wes Keller, R-Wasilla
Judiciary: Carl Gatto, R-Palmer
Labor & Commerce: Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna
Resources Co-Chairmen: Paul Seaton, R-Homer & Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon
Rules: Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage
State Affairs: Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage
Transportation: Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell

House Special & Joint Committees
Administrative Regulation Review: Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna
Economic Development, Trade, & Tourism: Bob Herron, D-Bethel
Energy Co-Chairmen: Neal Foster, D-Nome & Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage
Fisheries: Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks
Joint Armed Services House Co-Chairman: Dan Saddler, R-Anchorage
Legislative Budget & Audit Committee: Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage
Legislative Council Vice-Chairman: Bob Herren, D-Bethel
Military & Veterans' Affairs Co-Chairmen: Dan Sadler, R-Anchorage & Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks

Senate Leadership
President: Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak
Majority Leader: Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage
Minority Leader: Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla

Senate Standing Committees
Community & Regional Affairs: Donny Olson, D-Nome
Education Co-Chairmen: Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks & Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage
Finance Co-Chairmen: Bert Stedman, R-Sitka (Capital Budget) & Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel (Operating Budget) (Other Finance Committee members are Donny Olson, D-Nome; Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks; Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage; Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorge; & Dennis Egan, D-Juneau)
Health & Social Services: Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage
Judiciary: Hollis French, D-Anchorage
Labor & Commerce: Dennis Egan, D-Juneau
Resources Co-Chairmen: Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks & Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai
Rules: Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage
State Affairs: Bill Wielechowski
Transportation: Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon

Senate Special & Joint Committees
Joint Armed Services: Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage
Legislative Council: Linda Menard, R-Wasilla
World Trade: Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak

Friday, October 1, 2010

Upcoming Legislative Hearings

Monday, October 4
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness (
Location: Nome, Pioneer Hall - 110 Front Street
8:30 - 9:40 a.m. - Dr. Lee Haugen, director, UAF Northwest Campus (
9:50 - 10:50 a.m. - Jon Wedhe, superintendent, Nome Public Schools (
11:00 a.m. - Noon - Todd Hindman, principal, teacher, Anvil City Science Academy (
Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Lunch Break
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. - Russel Poulin, deputy director, Research & Analysis, WCET, WICHE ( "Addressing Remediation through Distance Education"
2:40 - 3:40 p.m. - Wanetta Ayers, director, Office of Economic Development, DCCED ( "Connect Alaska: Broadband Mapping & Planning"
3:50 - 4:50 p.m. - Sandra Wildfeuer, assistant professor, Mathematics; program manager, Bridging the Gap, Interior Aleutians Campus, UAF College of Rural & Community Development ( "Reexamine Praxis Cut Scores in Alaska in Terms of Economics of Supply & Demand"

Tuesday, October 5
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness (
Location: Nome, Pioneer Hall - 110 Front Street
8:30 - 9:30 a.m. - Doug Walrath, director, Northwestern Alaska Career & Technical Center (
9:40 - 11:00 a.m. - Roundtable Discussion: improving the K-12 and postsecondary systems in Alaska
11:00 - 11:45 a.m. - Public Testimony
11:45 a.m. - Wrap up, unfinished task force business, closing comments.
Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Lunch Break
1:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Tour local school facilities & programs

Friday, October 8
Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force
Location: Anchorage LIO, Room 220
8:30 a.m. - Needs-Based Scholarship Component
3:00 p.m. - Public Testimony

Friday, October 15
Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force
Location: Anchorage LIO, Room 220
8:30 a.m. - Funding & Finance

Monday & Tuesday, November 8-9
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Sitka (Agenda, exact location, & time to be announced)

Monday & Tuesday, January 10-11
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Anchorage (Agenda, exact location, & time to be announced)

Friday & Saturday, March 4-5
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Juneau (Agenda, exact location, & time to be announced)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Worth Their Weight in Gold

One of this year's newly announced MacArthur Foundation winners is economist Emmanuel Saez, who helped calculate the worth of outstanding kindergarten teachers.

A link to Mr. Saez's homepage:

A New York Times article on this year's awardees:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Incredible Weather

The weather has been INCREDIBLE this past week!  The first two pictures were taken from the Mountainside Neigborhood, the rest from my deck.
Looking at Thunder Mountain from the south.

Looking north toward the Chilkats

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NYTimes Article: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter?

"...researchers sorted the children, based on their treadmill runs, into highest-, lowest- and median-fit categories. Only the most- and least-fit groups continued in the study (to provide the greatest contrast). Both groups completed a series of cognitive challenges involving watching directional arrows on a computer screen and pushing certain keys in order to test how well the children filter out unnecessary information and attend to relevant cues. Finally, the children’s brains were scanned, using magnetic resonance imaging technology to measure the volume of specific areas.

Previous studies found that fitter kids generally scored better on such tests. And in this case, too, those children performed better on the tests. But the M.R.I.’s provided a clearer picture of how it might work. They showed that fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and 'executive control,'....

in a separate, newly completed study by many of the same researchers at the University of Illinois, a second group of 9- and 10-year-old children were also categorized by fitness levels and had their brains scanned, but they completed different tests, this time focusing on complex memory. Such thinking is associated with activity in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain’s medial temporal lobes. Sure enough, the M.R.I. scans revealed that the fittest children had heftier hippocampi."

link to full article: Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Street Performers, Boston

(just because a blog with no photos is boring!)

Upcoming Hearings

Friday, September 17
Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Anchorage LIO, Room 220
Agenda: Merit-based scholarship component

Monday & Tuesday, October 4-5
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Nome (agenda, exact location & time to be announced)

Friday, October 8
Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Anchorage LIO, Room 220
Agenda: Needs-based scholarship component

Monday & Tuesday, November 8-9
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Sitka (agenda, exact location & time to be announced)

Monday & Tuesday, January 10-11
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Anchorage (agenda, exact location & time to be announced)

Friday & Saturday, March 4-5
Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness
Juneau (agenda, exact location & time to be announced)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Upcoming Task Force Hearings

Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force:
8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Friday, August 27

Location: Anchorage Legislative Information Office, 2nd Floor Conference Room
Agenda: Opening Remarks and Introduction of Task Force Members; Historical Review of Alaska Scholarship: Taylor Plan, Governor’s Performance Scholarship, SB 224/HB 297, SB 221 – Alaska Merit Scholarship Program; Current Activities regarding Alaska Scholarship: Establishment of Regulations, Programmatic and Administrative Start-up, Expenditures and Financial Obligations to Date; Member Discussion; Closing Remarks & Adjournment

Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness:
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Wednesday & Thursday, Sept. 1 & 2
Location: UAF Regents' Conference Room (Rm. 109), Butrovich Building, 910 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks

You can follow hearings at any Legislative Information Office open during the interim. For a list of LIOs and whether they are open during in the interim go to: .  If you are not in a location with an open LIO, send me an email or call me at (907) 500-7069 and I will give you the phone number to call to join the teleconference. Staff at the Juneau Legislative Information Office said it is preferable that you go to an LIO, if possible, since there are a limited number of teleconference ports available.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fountains, Alaska State Museum

Does anyone remember the fountains at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau?  I'm sad they are no longer there.  My brother and I loved playing in them when we were kids.  Here is a photo I found on VILDA

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moore v. State: who has control, the Alaska Legislature, the Dept. of Education & Early Development, or Local School Boards?

During the July 30 Legislative Budget & Audit hearing the agenda was a request for a DEED audit and testimony from the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Moore vs. State of Alaska case. It was a very interesting discussion of legislative versus departmental versus local control of education.

Judge Gleason’s 2007 Decision, pages 173-174, says:
1. “The Alaska Constitution requires that the Legislature.....

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moore vs. State of Alaska Links

The 2007, 2009, and 2010 court decisions:

From the plaintiffs' attorneys: order summaries and the draft Blueprint for Constitutional Compliance:

Review of the Alaska Constitution's Education Clause in Moore v. State 2007 Decision

Pages 147-154 of the Moore vs. State of Alaska 2007 Decision contain a summary of Alaska court interpretations of the Alaska Constitution's Education Clause.  They are very interesting.  Follow the title link above to access documents related to the case, including the pages referenced above.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hearings Scheduled: Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness

Hearings of the Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness have been scheduled for Thursday & Friday, July 22-23, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., both days. The meeting location is the Anchorage LIO, room 220.

You can follow the hearing by calling 463-5009 (in Juneau), or 877-763-5073 (outside of Juneau), or at any LIO that is open during the interim. For a list of LIOs and whether they are open during in the interim go to:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

House Members appointed to Higher Education Task Forces

House members have been named to the Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force and the Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness (established by SB 221 ). No word yet on when the task forces will begin meeting.

Members of the task forces include:
The Joint Legislative Higher Education Scholarship Funding Task Force (15 members):
Five senators: Senate President Stevens and Sens. Elllis, Hoffman, Meyer, & Thomas;
Five representatives: Reps. Seaton, P. Wilson.....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alaska Budget Vetos, June 3, 2010

Governor Parnell signed HB 300, HB 302, and SB 230 into law on Thursday, June 3. He said the capital budget passed by the legislature was significantly larger than his proposed budget. Final education funding and a list of vetoes is contained in the Alaska Education Update, June 3, 2010 edition.

Governor Parnell said that in talking to legislators, he found that all the small school projects included in the capital budget are school district priorities, but that they would never rise to the level of being funded without earmarks from the legislature. So earmarking by legislators is an appropriate method for funding those projects. He said that legislators know what the priorities of their districts are better than he does.

There is a new web tool on the State of Alaska website with a map showing projects by geographic area:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Camera

I got a new camera at Costco a couple days ago.  It was the cheapest one they had - a Fujifilm Finepix JX250.  I think it works pretty good.  It takes better closeups than my old camera:

Mining Ruins, Douglas, Alaska

The shutter speed is a little faster, the flash works at a farther range, and it's smaller so it fits in my pocket.  The only thing that doesn't seem to be as good are the long-range landscape shots:

It's kind of hazy. 

But that might be from the cruiseships.

It doesn't seem like that small amount of polution from one ship could make everything so hazy.  But there are three ships in, and they're all putting out a "small" amount of polution:

So maybe it's not that the camera doesn't take long-range landscape pictures very well.  Maybe it's that the long-range landscape just doesn't look so good. 

The camera works good at medium-range landscapes, like these pictures of mining ruins in Douglas, Alaska:

This ruin is interesting.  I think, with the columns, it looks rather like a Roman ruin.

Most ruins just look like this, and you can't tell what they used to be.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

August 24, 2010 Alaska Primary Election Candidates

Spring Alder, Juneau, May 8, 2010

Here's a link to the Div. of Elections webpage listing candidates for the August primary, if you're wondering who's running:

The deadline for filing is 5:00 p.m., June 1.  Several districts haven't had anyone file yet, and many have only one candidate who's filed, so there will certainly be additions to the list of candidates.  So far there is no one registered to run in:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Current Status of Passed Legislation

Most education-related legislation that passed the legislature is still awaiting transmittal to the governor.  At the end of April, Legal Services had considerably over 100 bills it was still working on enrolling (checking for errors, ommissions, and correct form).

After Legal Services completes enrollment of legislation, it has to be signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and then it is sent to the governor. Speaker Chenault is.....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Education - Free, Online, College Classes

Last week my mother called me.  She didn't have a current email address for someone, and hoped she could get it from me.  I said, "I don't know, just send him a message on Facebook.  He's one of your friends, isn't he?"  It hadn't even crossed her mind that Facebook is a way to contact people. 

Technology is changing the world so fast.  Those of us in middle age and older don't know half of what is possible with technology today, let alone what may be possible just five years down the road.  That goes for the education field as well.  I heard a lot of talk in legislative hearings this year.....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I will have something to keep me busy this interim.

HCS CSSB 221(FIN) passed the House by a vote of 36 yeas and 4 nays. Voting against the bill were Reps. Doogan, Neuman, Salmon, and Thomas. The Senate later concurred with the House changes to the bill by a vote of 16 yeas, 4 nays. Voting nay were Sens. Bunde, Coghill, Dyson, and Wagoner.

HCS CSSB 221(FIN) includes.....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sine Die

The Twenty-Sixth Alaska State Legislature adjourned their second session early in the morning on Monday, April 19.   A new legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.  The Senate Bipartisan Working Group held a press availability at the end of session.  Both the House and the Senate ran past midnight on the 90th day, for the first time since the 90-day session limit was enacted.

Sen. President Gary Stevens said they have an analysis on the issue from legislative attorneys that says they can go past 90 days.  Legislative attorneys have told them that if anyone sued, the legislature would probably win.  He said.....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

House Passes Capital Budget

The House passed SB 230 - Capital Budget a few minutes ago, and have recessed until 9:15 p.m.

HB 424 - G.O. Bonds for Education/Library/Research Facilities

The Senate Finance Committee just moved HB 424 with a committee substitute.  The bill is on the Senate Calendar. 

Miles Baker, staff to Sen. Stedman said the only change in the committee substitute is the removal of an appropriation to the state bond committee of $4.766 million to pay expenses related to the issuance and sale of bonds. Funding for that item was added to SB 230 - Capital Budget and pulled out of HB 424.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recent Action

HJR 24 - Federal Lunch Program/Military  was permanently filed as Legislative Resolve 32.

SB 235 - Charter/Alternative School Funding  The Senate concurred with the House amendments to the bill and it is awaiting transmittal to the Governor.

SB 220 - Energy Efficiency/Alternative Energy  was moved from House Finance today and is on today's calendar

SB 221 - Legis. Task Force: Higher Ed/Careers  was moved from House Finance today and is on today's calendar. House Finance added a section creating an Alaska merit scholarship program. This is an item that the Governor was threatening to call a special session on. HCS CSSB 221(FIN) establishes the merit scholarship program.  The task force established by the bill will investigate possible funding mechanisms over the interim and make recommendations to the next legislature on how to fund the program. The section establishing the scholarship program basically follows the governor's criteria for the different levels of scholarship.

SB 230 - Budget: Capital, Supplemental, & Other Appropriations  is scheduled for today's House calendar, pending release from the House Finance Committee.

Friday, April 16, 2010

House Finance Releases New Version of Capital Budget

House Finance just released a new version of SB 230 - Capital Budget.

Legislature Addresses Moore vs. State in Conference Committee

The Conference Committee met Thursday to consider open items in HB 300 and HB 302. During the last hearing on Monday, April 12, the committee dealt with all open items in the Dept. of Education & Early Development’s budget, so there are no items open in that department. Sen. Hoffman said the next meeting would address the last two open items (one in the Governor’s Office and one in the Dept. of Revenue) and any fiscal notes.

A language adoption was made for Item 3 (Conditional Language, K-12 Support) on the DEED motion sheet. The language states that it is the intent of the legislature that up to $7,000,000 of the amount appropriated from the public school trust fund, AS 37.14.110, for public school programs may be used to address issues raised in Moore vs. Alaska. Those issues include curriculum design, professional training and retention, pre-kindergarten and other intensive early learning, and remediation plans for individual students. Affected school districts include the Yupiit, Lower Yukon, Yukon Flats, Yukon Koyukuk, and Northwest Arctic.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Biggest News Item from Wednesday!

At the beginning of Wednesday's House Education Committee hearing, Chairman Seaton presented Eddy Jeans, director, School Finance & Facilities, Dept. of Education & Early Development, with a legislative citation honoring him for his 30 years of state service, his expertise, his dedication, and his good humor.

Mr. Jeans said he plans to retire sometime this summer, but he will remain in Juneau, and will remain involved in some capacity. 

Hopefully Eddy will continue to make himself available to initiate rookie legislators on the intricacies of the foundation formula!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senate Floor Debate on SB 230 - Capital Budget

So much for posting every day until the end of session!  Oh dear!  How about a posting on yesterday's floor debate on the capital budget?

SB 230 – Budget: Capital, Supplemental, & Other Appropriations

The Senate passed CSSB 230(FIN) 19 yeas, 1 nay. Sen. Bunde voted against the bill. SB 230 has been transmitted to the House and was referred to the House Finance Committee. It is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, April 14 at 8:30 a.m. (See the “Saturday, April 10, 2010 CSSB 230(FIN) AKEDUPDATE” for a list of education-related projects.)

Sen. Bunde offered an amendment to remove many of the projects in SB 230. He thought a more appropriate place for the projects was in a bond package. The Finance Committee co-chairmen disagreed. Sen. Stedman said.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SB 230 - Capital Budget Update

Senate Finance adopted a new committee substitute for SB 230 and passed the bill out of committee Saturday evening.  The biggest change in the new cs is a new section adding $380 million in G.O. bond projects, $360 million of which are for education projects. 

G.O. Bond Education Projects:.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Education-Related Items in CSSB 230(FIN)

Major Maintenance:
• $1,700,000 – Mt. Edgecumbe deferred maintenance
• $84,337 – Nome Beltz Jr./Sr. fire alarm replacement
• $29,807 – Nome Beltz Jr./Sr. emergency generator auto switch replacement
• $1,202,914 – Metlakatla High School Renovation Alternates
• $1,762,541 – Whittier K-12 sprinkler install & interior renovations
• $123,701 – Yup’ik Voc Ed Building water service & boiler replacement
• $80,729 – Yup’ik Voc Ed Building roof replacement
• $21,306,131 – Service High School renovation
• $180,491 – Mosquito Lake Elementary mechanical upgrades

• $200,000 – Debarr Road school zone
• $1,100,000 – Fritz Cove to Auke Bay, including school intersection improvements
• $1,000,000 – Safe Routes to Schools (statewide)
• $4,000,000 – Sand Point: School Loop Road Rehabilitation
• $800,000 – Sitka: Cross Trail construction – High School to Baranof, Charles, Yaw, and Pherson Streets

DCCED Grants to Recipients:
• $300,000 – Copper River School District – Copper River Connects
• $800,000 – Toksook Bay Early Learning Center
• $140,000 – Yukon-Koyukuk School District – Jimmy Huntington High School Mold Remediation
• $520,000 – Mears Middle School Locker Replacement
• $1,140,000 – Salcha Elementary School Exterior Envelope Replacement & Upgrade
• $430,000 – Ticasuk Brown Elementary School Septic System Replacement
• $990,000 – Galena City School District Central Steam Plant Upgrade
• $100,000 – Trapper Creek Elementary School Roof Replacement
• $1,000,000 – Valdez High School Fire Alarm/Sprinkler Replacement

NPRA Impact Grants:
• $251,243 – North Slope Borough School Counselor Grant

• $12,000 – Chatham School District, for equipment purchases and upgrades (reappropriated from Chatham School District van purchase)
• $37,500 – Chatham School District, for projects, equipment, and improvements for Angoon Schools (reappropriated from Angoon road grader)

• $500,000 – Service High School Football Field Turf Design and Construction
• $500,000 – South High School Artificial Turf Field Design and Construction
• $20,000 – Central Middle School Stage Floor Refinishing, and Projector Screen, Sound System, and Curtains Replacement and Installation

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HB 424 - G.O. Bonds for Education Projects

HB 424 – G.O. Bonds for Education Projects, By the House Finance Committee

Introduced today, HB 424 provides for the issuance of general obligation bonds in a principal amount of not more than $1,000,000 for the purpose of paying the cost of education projects for public schools and the University of Alaska. The bill specifies that $500,000 will be appropriated to DEED for public school projects, and $500,000 will be appropriated to the University of Alaska for university projects.

During the afternoon portion of today’s House Finance Committee meeting, Chairman Stoltze said that the $1,000,000 in HB 424 is just a place-holder amount, and will not necessarily be the final amount in the bill.

HB 424 was referred to the House Finance Committee, and is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, April 8 at 9:00 a.m.

Moore vs. State Documents posted in BASIS

The three court orders in the Moore vs. State case have been posted on BASIS.  I am not sure they are available anywhere else online, so thought I would post a link (click on the title above to go to the documents).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MOORE vs. STATE, March 31 2010 Court Order

On Wednesday, April 7th the House and Senate Education Committees will be holding a hearing on Moore vs. State. The committees will be hearing from the plaintiffs' attorney, the state's attorney, a legislative attorney, and the administration to discuss the case.

During the Monday, April 6th House Education Committee hearing, Dept. of Education & Early Development Deputy Commissioner Les Morse said the department thought this most recent court order was going to go their way. 

But looking at the order, it appears that the judge still feels the state has some work to do.  In her 2007 decision and again in the Order on Review of 2009 Submissions, Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason said....

Monday, April 5, 2010

House Conference Committee Members Appointed, HB 300

Conference committee members have been appointed from the House for HB 300 – Operating Budget. They are Reps. Hawker, Stoltze, and Gara.

The Senate has not yet appointed conference committee members, so the Legislature is not yet under the 24-Hour Rule for hearing bills. However, any bill that has had a previous hearing in a committee can be brought up without notice under “Bills previously heard/scheduled.” So you will see committees bringing up a lot of bills for perfunctory hearings at this time. That way they can bring them up later without having to give any additional notice.

Gathering of Attorneys - April 7 in the House & Senate Education Committees

At the end of Friday's Senate Education Committee hearing, committee staff said that Judge Gleason said in her most recent ruling on Moore vs. Alaska that the legislature is responsible for the five school districts in the case. On Wednesday, April 7 at 8:00 a.m. the Education Committees will be hearing from the plaintiffs' attorney, the state's attorney, a legislative attorney, and the administration to discuss what that means.  So we should get a pretty wide-viewpoint of what that means for everyone - the state, the schools, and the kids.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Moore vs. Alaska

The House and Senate Education Committees have scheduled a joint hearing for Wednesday, April 7 to hear a presentation on an order made on March 31 by Alaska Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason in the Moore vs. Alaska case. 

During a hearing of the House Education Committee on Friday, April 2, Chairman Paul Seaton said that Judge Gleason stated in her order that the legislature is resposible for ensuring that school districts are using adequate curriculum.  Seaton said that until now, everyone had been operating under the assumption that curriculum adoption is part of local authority, but that the judge had said that is not correct.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A few notes on current action:

The House is adjourned until Monday, so I guess they are taking an Easter break. Even though the Senate passed HB 300 - Operating Budget on Tuesday, they waited until the House adjourned on Thursday before transmitting the bill back to the house, thereby postponing when the 24-hour rule will kick in. Probably that will happen Monday.

Sen. Hoffman said in floor discussion on SB 237 that there will need to be some minor changes made to the bill in the house in order to accomodate rural areas not in REAA's and not able to fund school facilities through bonding. So I believe the legislature is going to try to cover every possible situation in the state with this bill. That will make a lot of people happy, I am sure!

Rep. Doogan said in his weekly newsletter today that there is rumored to be a bond proposition in the works. Projects supposedly under consideration for the proposition include the UAF Life Sciences Facility, a gym in Anchorage (The UAA Sports Arena?), a new state library/archives/museum facility in Juneau, and several schools in rural Alaska. I'm guessing those would be schools in Alakanuk, Kipnuk, and Napaskiak.

I will try to post updates every day between now and the end of session.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Senate Bipartisan Working Group Press Availability

Scholarship Proposal
Sen. President Gary Stevens said the Senate has been meeting with the House leadership and the Governor. Stevens said that one of the big issues the legislature is working on as the session comes to a close is.....

KINY Website Back Online

And, KINY, my favorite place to go for up-to-date Alaska news briefs is back online.  I have added a link to that site.  It is under the "Friends, Family, and Favorites" links.

House Passes Supplemental Budget

The House passed CSHB 326(FIN) on Monday, March 29, with all 40 representatives voting in favor of passage. No changes were made to the bill on the floor. It has been transmitted to the Senate, and will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It is scheduled for a hearing in that committee on Thursday, April 1 at 9:00 a.m.

House Finance Committee Co-Chairman Mike Hawker said HB 326 contains only operating supplemental costs, and authorizes $1.7 billion in additional spending. Of that amount, $1.1 billion forward funds education, $401 million is appropriated to repay the Constitutional Budget Reserve, $600,000 is appropriated to the Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund, there is $125 million for the Marine Highway Stabilization Fund, and $79,000 goes into the Small Business Development Revolving Loan Fund. HB 326 also re-appropriates excess Marine Highway funds for ferry service for the Aleutians for the remainder of FY10 and for all of FY11.

Rep. Woody Salmon noted that HB 326 is made possible by the 2007 oil tax reform.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

24-Hour Rule

The operating budget, HB 300 is on the floor of the Senate on Monday, March 29. When it passes, it will be returned to the House for concurrence (a fancy way to say they agree with the changes the Senate has made to the bill). I can guarantee you the House will not concur with the Senate amendments to the bill.

The House will then send a message to the Senate asking them to recede from their amendments (a fancy way to ask the Senate to accept the House version of the operating budget). I can guarantee you that will not happen either.

At that point, a conference committee consisting of three members of the House and three members of the Senate will be appointed. Once the conference committee for the operating budget is appointed, under Uniform Rule 23 (d) committee chairmen are only required to give 24-hour notice to hear a bill. That is the 24-hour rule, and things will speed up considerably at that point.

Friday, March 26, 2010

KINY Online News is Gone :(

I had to remove the link to KINY online news, since the website seems to have disappeared.  Very sad, as it was my favorite place to go for short updates on local and state news.  Hopefully they will get the site back up.

UPDATE: The KINY site was only down for a short time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bush Caucus Education Forum Location Change

The location of the Bush Caucus Education Forum scheduled for today at 4:00 p.m. has been changed from the House Finance Committee Room (Capitol Building, Room 519) to the House Education Committee Room (Capitol Building, Room 106).

Cook Inlet Tribal Council President Gloria O’Neill and Best Beginnings Director Abbe Hensley will give presentations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Senate Finance and the FY11 Operating Budget

The Senate Finance Committee heard subcommittee reports during today’s hearing. The committee adopted the subcommittee reports and a committee substitute incorporating the subcommittee reports. Chairman Lyman Hoffman said the goal is to live within the state’s means, but still deliver the services Alaskans expect.

Amendments from committee members are due by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. During the amendment process, Hoffman said the committee will.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Senate Finance Proposes Major Policy Shift for Funding School Construction

The Senate Finance Committee proposed a major change today in how school facilities across the state should be funded.  The committee heard and held SB 237, and adopted a committee substitute for the bill.  

Jay Livey, staff to Sen. Hoffman, reviewed the committee substitute for SB 237. The bill will provide a more predictable method of funding for both REAA’s and municipal school districts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NY Times: Lawmakers Say Needs of Rural Schools Are Overlooked

Published: March 17, 2010

Federal education rules favor big-city school districts over rural systems, some lawmakers complain.
"Lawmakers who represent rural areas told Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a hearing Wednesday that the No Child Left Behind law, as well as the Obama administration’s blueprint for overhauling it, failed to take sufficiently into account the problems of rural schools, and their nine million students....'There are lots of bright people at the Department of Education, and they work very hard,' said John Hill, executive director of the National Rural Education Association, based at Purdue University. 'But because most have not grown up or worked in a rural area, they find it difficult to see how things work in remote districts.'....The administration hopes to shift the focus from credentials to evaluations of teacher effectiveness, based in part on whether their students are learning. Teachers’ colleges could offer special programs to prepare educators for rural challenges.  Mr. Duncan developed some of his ideas last year during a rural tour that took him to the Alaskan village of Hooper Bay on the Bering Sea, a primitive settlement with no flush toilets...."

(To read the complete article, click on the title)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Strong Support in Senate Education for SB 224, But Ambivalence About the Name

The Senate Education Committee heard and held SB 224. Chairman Meyer said the committee would move the bill either Friday or Monday.  Sen. Stevens said he has come to terms with the importance of the bill. They need to move the bill along and figure out the bigger issue of how to pay for the program.  Chairman Meyer said the scholarship program will be a great program, and something he will be proud of voting for and supporting.

At a previous hearing, Legislative Legal Services staff recommended that.....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Senate Finance Working on Capital and Deferred Maintenance All Week

The Senate Finance Committee began hearings on SB 230 and SB 253 this morning. Chairman Stedman announced that the committee will be hearing these two bills in both the morning and the afternoon for the rest of the week. The committee will be hearing one department at a time, beginning with the departments with the largest requests and working down the list. The committee has not heard any Dept. of Education & Early Development projects as of the time of this posting today, and it is unlikely they will get to DEED today, and possibly not even tomorrow. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

HB 350 - Public School Funding - Required Local Contribution

The House Education Committee heard and moved HB 350 today. The committee did not make any changes to the bill. It moves next to the House Finance Committee.

Chairman Seaton noted that there had been some misunderstanding regarding what HB 350 does. HB 350 does not change basic need. The only thing HB 350 changes is.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alaska State House of Representatives Passes HB 360

HB 360 – Youth Academy: Student Records

The House of Representatives passed HB 360 on Friday and it was transmitted to the senate on the same day. The bill passed 34 yeas, 3 nays, and 3 excused. Voting against the bill were Reps. Keller, Neuman, and Stoltze. Excused were Reps. Cissna, Gruenberg, and Harris. HB 360 has not yet been referred to any senate committees.

In floor debate on the bill.....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The House Education Committee Moves HB 297

The House Education Committee moved HB 297 on Friday, March 12.  I'm a little surprised after what seemed like endless discussion.  Perhaps it will get somewhere after all.  But, like several legislators have said, the big issue may be whether or not the program is funded, not whether it is passed. 

Several amendments were adopted during Friday's hearing, including one that requires students in the first eligible graduating class to take three years each of math and science.  Rep. Gardner offered an amendment.....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Operating Budget on House Floor

The operating budget, HB 300 has been scheduled for the house floor tomorrow, Thursday, March 11.  If the House Finance amendment process is any indication, it may be a very short, uncontentious session with no or very few amendments offered. The typical process is the bills will be in second reading tomorrow, third reading on Friday, and up for reconsideration on Saturday. If no one objects, they can advance to third reading on the same day as second reading, If no one gives notice of reconsideration, it will go to the senate the same day as the vote on final passage. So they could do it all tomorrow and send it to the senate the same day, if everyone agrees. Anyway - one to three days and the bills will be in the senate.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Operating Budget Amendments

Wow, I am really impressed with how smoothly the amendments on the operating budget went in the House Finance Committee this afternoon. Most amendments were sponsored by the full committee. Several minority members carried a couple of amendments (sponsored by the full committee). Those included several of Rep. Gara's issues of high concern, including support for foster children and early childhood education. Only a few amendments were sponsored by individual members. Most of the amendments sponsored by individual members failed.

Amendments 1 through 23 were offered by all members of the House Finance Committee, and were adopted unanimous consent.

Amendment 2 was adopted unanimous consent. This amendment changes the “fuel trigger” for appropriations to departments for high fuel prices. The trigger is changed from $36 per barrel to.....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Building a Better Teacher

New York Times Magazine
Published: March 7, 2010

There are more than three million teachers in the United States, and Doug Lemov is trying to prove that he can teach them to be better.

When Doug Lemov, who is 42, set out to become a teacher of teachers, he was painfully aware of his own limitations. A large, shy man with a Doogie Howser face, he recalls how he limped through his first year in the classroom, at a private day school in Princeton, N.J. His heartfelt lesson plans — write in your journal while listening to music; analyze Beatles songs like poems — received blank stares. “I still remember thinking: Oh, my God. I still have 45 minutes left to go,” he told me recently. Things improved over time, but very slowly. At the Academy of the Pacific Rim, a Boston charter school he helped found, he was the dean of students, a job title that is school code for chief disciplinarian, and later principal. Lemov fit the bill physically — he’s 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds — but he struggled to get students to follow his directions on the first try.

After his disappointing visit to Syracuse, he decided to seek out the best teachers he could find — as defined partly by their students’ test scores — and learn from them. A self-described data geek, he went about this task methodically, collecting test-score results and demographic information from states around the country. He plotted each school’s poverty level on one axis and its performance on state tests on the other. Each chart had a few outliers blinking in the upper-right-hand corner — schools that managed to squeeze high performance out of the poorest students......

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 45 - Halfway

Today is day 45 of session; we’re halfway through the second session, and three-fourths through the 26th Legislature. The pace will really pick up from here on out.

The finance committees are beginning to hear education-related legislation. Next week, the Senate Finance Committee will be hearing SB 221, Sen. President Gary Stevens’ legislation creating a task force on higher education. One of the things the task force will be looking at is how high schools are preparing students for college and career readiness.

Perhaps the legislature has decided after the success of the Joint Legislative Education Funding Task Force that temporary legislative task forces are the way to delve deeply into substantive issues, issues that demand more time than would be possible during session. If SB 221 passes, it will be interesting to see if it has as much of a transformative effect on secondary and postsecondary education as the JLEFTF had on funding issues for K-12.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 1, 2010 Senate Education Hearing on SB 224

Committee staff Murray Richmond and Jomo Stewart reviewed amendments that have been brought up in the House Education Committee for HB 297, the house version of SB 224.

Tim Lamkin, staff to Sen. Stevens, reviewed two amendments from Sen. Stevens. The first amendment would remove the statement of the goals and purposes of the program from the bill and place it in a letter of intent. Sen. Stevens’ second amendment adds a section authorizing the Dept. of Education & Early Development to adopt regulations establishing an application process for non-traditional post-secondary students. The second amendment also removes the six-year limit for students to use their scholarship award and increases the award from 8 semesters to 12 semesters.

Sen. Davis said she doesn’t see the legislature passing a bill without taking non-traditional students into consideration.

Sen. Meyer said they would like to hear the intent of committee members regarding whether to adopt any of the amendments that have been reviewed. Chairman Thomas said they will then put together a committee substitute, and it will be before the committee the week of March 8.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The Alaska Education Update provides reporting on action of the Alaska State Legislature for education issues daily during the session. If there is a hearing on a Monday, the report will be in your email inbox by Tuesday morning (with the rare exception). Reports are not verbatim accounts of hearings, but they are very detailed summaries. There is coverage of the education committees, of course, and also finance and any other committees when they are hearing education-related legislation or issues. Action on education-related legislation on the floor of the House or Senate is part of the updates. There is also usually coverage of majority press availabilities, and sometimes minority press availabilities, when time allows.

Contact: Shana Crondahl
4100 Blackerby Street
Juneau, AK 99801-9535
(907) 500-7069