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March 27, 2024

In this issue:

  • House Ed Committee passes guardians bill, adds pastoral counseling
  • Budget proposal includes increased education funding
  • KBE names Robbie Fletcher new education commissioner
  • KSBA board of directors holds meeting, retreat
  • LSAC approves bus specifications, administrative regulations 
  • April webinars offered for members new to board service
  • Superintendent searches
  • Upcoming dates, deadlines and events

House Ed Committee passes guardians bill, adds pastoral counseling amendment

SB 2, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, has seen its share of controversy throughout the legislative session, much of it regarding provisions allowing districts to staff schools with armed “guardians” who are not subject to the same training requirements as school resource officers. However, it was a last-minute amendment filed early Tuesday about trauma-informed care that was the focus of debate before the House Education Committee.

The amendment, filed by Rep. Josh Calloway, R-Irvington, would allow schools to use licensed pastoral counselors on trauma-informed care teams. Licensed pastoral counselors are subject to different oversight, training and licensing criteria than school counselors. As the Kentucky Lantern reported, there are about 33 active license holders statewide. 

The amendment passed, but several Republicans joined with Democrats in expressing concerns both on the language and the timeframe in which the amendment was introduced.

“I'm concerned that this got dropped on us real fast without us having a chance to process everything about this and I need a little more time to process,” said Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, a retired educator.

Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, asked Calloway if he had consulted with the Kentucky School Counselor Association (KSCA).

“Yes, I've had multiple conversations with a lot of different people in this realm from superintendents to principals, and people that are engaged in these teams,” Calloway said. “And overall, it's been a positive response.”

A KSCA representative testified that the organization was not consulted and opposed the amendment. The group had endorsed an earlier version of SB 2 because of the original trauma-informed care team provisions.

A committee substitute was also introduced during the meeting that, among other things, increases the guardian program's oversight, expands qualified immunity to guardians, requires school boards to enter a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement and increases required paperwork for honorably discharged veteran candidates for guardian positions.

SB 2 passed the House Education Committee with a 14-3 party-line vote and now goes to the full House. 

Photo: Rep. Josh Calloway, R-Irvington, (left) confers with Rep. Shane Baker, R-Somerset, before the start of Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting. LRC

Budget proposal includes increased education funding 

House and Senate members working on a compromise between the two chambers' versions of the state’s biennial budget met Tuesday to reveal their decisions.

The compromise budget includes a 3% increase in SEEK base funding in the first year and 6% the second year.

Sen. President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said that the 9% total increase should allow districts to give 2.5% to 5.5% raises to employees.

“Our goal was that we came up with a very comprehensive plan that should allow the local school systems, the opportunity and the monies, in which to give substantial raises over the biennium,” he said.

The compromise budget also includes:

  • 90% transportation funding in the first year of the budget and 100% in the second year.
  • Tier 1 equalization, which helps less-wealthy school districts get more state funding, was raised from 15% to 17.5%.
  • $34 million for districts to be reimbursed for the costs of school resource officers. The funding was in the House version, but removed in the Senate version.
  • $50 million for Area Technology Centers. There would be a $7.5 million cap for each center and restrictions for centers that recently received renovations.

A s of Wednesday morning, there was no public copy of the budget available. The legislature is expected to vote on the compromise budget by Thursday. The veto period begins on Friday.

KBE names Robbie Fletcher new education commissioner

The Kentucky Board of Education announced last week it has selected Lawrence County Superintendent Robbie Fletcher as the state's next education commissioner.

During the virtual meeting, Fletcher thanked KBE for choosing him.

"I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to work alongside the board, the department, fellow educators, including 171 superintendents, and, most importantly, alongside the students," he said.

Fletcher has been superintendent of Lawrence County since 2014. Prior to that, he served as a teacher in Williamstown Independent and Bourbon County, and as a high school and middle school principal in Martin County. He started his career in 1996 as a math and science teacher in Martin County.

KBE Chair Sharon Porter Robinson said the board sought a leader who is a statesperson, an instructional leader and a visionary innovator.

"We are confident that Dr. Fletcher meets these requirements and are excited about the future of education in the Commonwealth under his leadership,” she said.

In a statement following the announcement, KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling noted Fletcher's leadership skills at the local level.

"He has proven an exemplary member of the board team in Lawrence County, indicative of what we can expect to see as he takes his considerable talents to the state level," Schelling said. 

Under a law the General Assembly passed in 2023, Fletcher will face confirmation by the state Senate. After Fletcher's selection, Republican Majority Whip Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, called Fletcher a "quality nominee."

See KDE's announcement,

KSBA Board of Directors holds meeting, retreat

KSBA's Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting and annual retreat March 22-23 at The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. The board received a refresher on their fiduciary roles and heard results on the board's recent self-evaluation. During the retreat, the board broke off into two tracks – one for experienced directors and one for new directors.

Photo: New directors Tom Bell (Christian Co.), Pat Hall (Campbellsville Ind.), Joanna Freels (Shelby Co.), Kathleen Price (Martin Co.), Becky Burgett (Gallatin Co.), David Turner (Walton-Verona Ind.), Brandon Rutherford (Madison Co.) and Angela Parsons-Woods (Rockcastle Co.)

LSAC approves bus specifications, administrative regulations

The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC) on Tuesday approved proposed bus specifications for new purchases.

Elisa Hanley, pupil transportation branch manager at KDE, said a council of about 25 experts in school transportation field – superintendents, inspectors, drivers, trainers and technicians – meets annually to discuss potential changes and issues they’re having with school buses, along with solutions other states are pursuing.

This year, the panel recommended changes to bus specifications for new bus purchases, including:

  • A battery shutoff switch to help preserve batteries in the summer during long periods of non-use.
  • Replacing all lights, including headlights, with LEDs if they are available from the original equipment manufacturer.
  • Illuminated school bus signs and stop signs for new buses to help drivers see them from a distance.
  • Heated crossview mirrors to help melt ice and snow in the winter.
  • Change requirements for school bus driver seats to allow for more comfortable seats.
  • Changes to air conditioner condenser requirements.

The panel also recommended crossview mirror lighting as an acceptable option from manufacturers that provide it so drivers can see students walking in front of their buses better. Hanley said some manufacturers don’t offer that option, so they couldn’t make it a requirement, but the changes would make it an option for districts.

Several LSAC members said they had concerns about the potential costs for additional items as well as the rising cost of buses in general. Hanley said KDE is actively working to ensure Kentucky schools save as much as possible.

The changes would be for new bus purchases, although Hanley said districts can retrofit their current buses with the new features as long as it’s approved by the manufacturer.

In other business, LSAC took action to recommend the KBE:

  • Approve 704 KAR 3:550, setting minimum qualifications for paraprofessionals.
  • Approve changes to 704 KAR 7:140, allowing Vietnam War veterans to receive a high school diploma if they did not complete high school prior to being inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces, similar to how World War II and Korean War veterans can receive a diploma.
  • Approve repealing 780 KAR 2:010, the administration of area technology centers, due to redundant language with KRS 157.808.
  • Approve amendments to various sections of 780 KAR Chapter 3 dealing with administrative rules to conform with KRS 157.808 and update outdated language.
  • Approve amendments to various sections of 780 KAR Chapter 6 to align with KRS 157.808 and current KDE and Kentucky Board of Education policies.
  • Discussed potential changes to finance officer certification requirements.

The regulations recommended for approval will be up for consideration during the KBE meeting on April 9-10. The next LSAC meeting is scheduled for May 28.

April webinars offered for members new to board service

All school board members who are currently within their first term of service are invited to participate in the New Board Member Express webinar series. Below is the current webinar lineup for the month of April. Each webinar title is linked to online registration.

Each webinar is worth 1.00 hour of state-mandated school board training credit. Each webinar is available at $75 per session. Registration is required. To expedite the registration process, KSBA now requires that the fee be paid with a credit card at the time of registration.

Tuesday, April 2

Introduction to school board ethics for new board members (ETH 115)

Looking for a convenient way to earn credit in the state-mandated topic of ethics? Attend this session to learn important information while meeting the annual requirement. This session is geared to newly elected or appointed board members. (Meets state-mandated ethics training requirement)

Monday, April 8

The board’s policy making role (POL 100)

This session is designed to explore the following topics: the statutory basis for board policy (KRS 160.290 and KRS 160.340), the policy adoption and amendment process, board policy versus administrative procedure, policy manual organization, policy format and using an online policy manual.

Thursday, April 18

Introduction to school finance for new board members (FIN 119)

Looking for a convenient way to earn credit in the state-mandated topic of finance? Attend this session to learn important information while working toward meeting annual requirements. This session is geared to newly elected or appointed board members. (Counts toward state-mandated finance requirement)

Tuesday, April 23

Legal Orientation I (LGI 100)

Learn what every new school board member needs to understand about the statutory and legal environment in which boards operate. The session includes topics such as the Kentucky Open Meetings Act, board member conflicts of interest, the various legal responsibilities of the board, the role of the superintendent and the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Superintendent searches

KSBA's Superintendent Search Service is currently facilitating a search in the following districts. Click the district name to be directed to the position posting and application instructions.

Barren County Schools

Application deadline: March 27, 2024

Jessamine County Schools

Application deadline: March 29, 2024

Shelby County Schools

Application deadline: April 8, 2024

Ludlow Independent Schools

Application deadline: April 8, 2024

Upcoming dates and events

March 29: Start of 2024 Regular Legislative Session veto period

April 9-10: Kentucky Board of Education meeting

April 11: KDE's Superintendents' Webcast

April 15: Sine Die (final day of legislative session)

This edition of KSBA Aware is made possible in part
by the following KSBA Affiliate Members.
Tier 1 Affiliates

Tier 2 Affiliates

Kentucky School Boards Association | 502-695-4630 |
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