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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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.