Members Appointed to Sustainable Education Task Force
Thursday, August 1, 2013, Wasilla, Alaska – Alaska House Education Committee Chair Lynn Gattis today announced the House Speaker’s appointees to the Sustainable Education Task Force. Gattis, R-Wasilla, and Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole/Fairbanks, will serve as Co-Chairs of the task force.
The task force was created by passage of House Resolution 8 (HR 8) during the 2013 regular legislative session. Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, selected five public members along with three legislators in consultation with the Co-Chairs, who sought applications from interested Alaskans earlier this summer.
The Legislature’s most recent budgets include more than $1.9 billion in capital and operating funds in support of Alaska’s public school system, an increase of about 14% in the last three budget cycles. The purpose of the task force is to examine and make recommendations to the State House in January 2014 regarding the funding of public education in Alaska.
Goals of the task force include: an analysis of the adequacy and proper use of public education funds; looking at alternative methods of funding; comparing educational expenses and administrative expenses within school districts and determining if the allocation between administrative and instructional personnel impacts the ability of schools to provide effective instructional services; a review of the effects of pension and health care expenses on total education costs; and, an evaluation of the availability of courses that meet academic standards in each district.
Task force Co-Chairs Gattis and Wilson reviewed dozens of applications before making recommendations to Speaker Chenault for his appointments. “We are very fortunate to have many Alaskans willing to serve on this task force and to devote their time to find solutions that will work for all of our children and meet our urban and rural education delivery challenges” Wilson said.
“Folks that were not initially appointed will be called upon to help; we will make sure that everyone that submitted an application will have an opportunity to be heard. They will help us when we visit rural communities and we will discuss many of the ideas that they suggested,” Gattis said.
The task force includes a legislator who is a co-chair of the House Energy Committee and five public members: two educators, two business persons, and one member from either the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) or from one of the ANCSA regional native corporations.
The following appointments were made:
• Rep. Charisse Millett, Co-Chair House Energy Committee – Rep. Millett will analyze the cost of energy delivery and efficiencies for schools, setting a standard for where Alaska’s energy costs for education should be, and creating an incentive structure for school districts who find ways to reduce the costs of energy.
• Mr. Andy Baker, NANA member – Mr. Baker is from Kotzebue and a graduate of a Kotzebue high school. He is passionate about public education, particularly in rural Alaska. Mr. Baker has children attending the public schools in his community. He believes that our public education system needs to be relevant to the students, to their interest and job goals. He is self-employed and has served in the Governor’s Rural Sub Cabinet.
• Mr. Jerry Covey, Educator – Mr. Covey has been an educator for many years and has served in many roles: former K-8 public school teacher, principal, associate superintendent, superintendent and Commissioner of Education, instructor at the University of Alaska Southeast and currently as consultant for urban and rural school districts.
• Mr. Andrew Halcro, Business person – Mr. Halcro, a former member of the State’s House of Representatives, is currently president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He has personal experience in the private and public school systems. He brings private sector experience and believes in stronger partnerships between traditional education groups, the business community and government agencies.
• Mr. Brad Keithley, Business Person – Mr. Keithley is an attorney whose practice has been concentrated in the areas of regulation, commercial transactions and litigation. He is concerned that we are above sustainable levels and going forward a combination of spending cuts-or at least spending stabilization and alternative revenue sources may be required to maintain state education spending.
• Mr. David Nees, Educator – Mr. Nees has 28 years of teaching in Anchorage and many seasons of coaching and team-building. He feels strongly that the education system in Alaska has great potential and has the drive and time to help with research and by sharing his experience.
The first meeting of the task force will be announced during the first week in August. Members of the public wishing to keep informed can visit the task force’s webpage at housemajority.org/sustainable-education-task-force/. A survey and feedback tool for members of the public will also be made available through the website in the near future.