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.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Photo: Signing of Moore Case Settlement Agreement

Plaintiffs' Attorney Howard Trickey, Dept. of Education & Early Development Commissioner Mike Hanley, and CEAAC Executive Director Charles Wohlforth, signing the Moore Case Settlement Agreement on Thursday, January 26, 2012 in the Attorney General's Office in the Dimond Court House

Moore vs. State of Alaska Settlement

There was a press conference on the settlement of the Moore case on Thursday, January 26, 2012 in the attorney general's office in Juneau.  The basic details of the settlement are that there will be a one-time appropriation of $18 million, subject to legislative approval.  Four programs addressing low achievement in struggling schools will be created with that funding:
    1.  Two-year kindergarten and related pre-literacy programs,
    2.  Targeted resources grant fund,
    3.  Teacher retention grant fund,
    4.  HSGQE remediation reimbursement program

Schools eligible to participate in numbers 1, 2, and 4 are the forty schools with the lowest scores on the Modified School Growth Index for the previous three years.  A school is eligible regardless of whether it is located in an intervention district or not.  Number three is not limited to the forty lowest scoring schools, but those schools shall have preference. 
The four programs established by the settlement will initially be funded by the $18 million settlement.  At least $6 million of the $18 million will be used for two-year kindergarten and pre-literacy programs.  

Here is a link to the press conference video and audio: 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Announcement of Moore Case Settlement

The Moore case has been settled, and a press conference on the details is scheduled for Thursday, January 26 at 2:00 p.m. in the Attorney General's Office at the Dimond Court Building.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a Day!

Wow, what a long day!  I don't know where to even start.  Chairman Dick said at the beginning of the House Education Committee hearing that this session education funding will be a huge issue.  They will also discuss intervention, state standards, the school maintenance priority process, distance delivery, the manner in which districts and students are assessed, and the 70/30 split for instruction/administrative costs. 

The House Education Committee heard and held HB 145.  A committee substitute was moved, but not adopted, and the committee also has amendments that weren't moved or adopted.  During discussion on whether private schools would serve special education students there was a lot of debate.  I foresee long discussions every time HB 145 is heard, if history is any indication of the future. 

The Senate Education Committee heard and moved SB 137 - Suicide Awareness & Prevention.  There was only support for the bill, and very little cost.  The legislation has had positive effect in other states, and it is hoped it will have positive effect in Alaska as well. 

During the House Majority Press Conference I asked Rep. Herron about HB 256 - Repeal State Intervention in Schools, and he said he co-sponsored the bill because he believes the only tool the state has been using in intervention is a hammer, and he wants them to use other tools.  Other than that, there was no discussion of education issues during the press conference.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

HB 256: Serious Proposition or Conversation Opener?

The first prefiled bills for the second session of the 27th Alaska State Legislature were released today (full list of prefiled bills: ).  There are half a dozen bills that are probably of interest to the education community; a review of those is in today's Alaska Education Update.   

One bill that will perhaps raise some eyebrows is HB 256 - Repeal State Intervention in Schools.  Judge Gleason wrote in the 2007 Moore decision that, "In addition to delegating the operation of schools to the local school districts, the Legislature has delegated supervision on education to the executive branch, through the creation of the State Board of Education and the Department of Education and Early Development." 

If the ability of the department to intervene in schools is removed, what oversight will the state and the legislature have of schools?  Or does the sponsor intend there to be only local oversight of schools?  What effect might this have on federal funding requirements, and would it put federal education funding in jeopardy?  Would the state make up those lost funds to districts? 

I'm not sure yet if the sponsor intends HB 256 to be a serious proposition, or a conversation starter for reviewing intervention, but we will find out shortly.  Session begins on Tuesday, January 17, and those are some of the questions that will be raised.