The Kentucky General Assembly kicked off its 2020 budget session Tuesday. The legislature’s main task during the 60-day session will be to pass a budget to fund the state for the next two years. Gov. Andy Beshear will unveil his budget proposal Jan. 28 in a speech aired live on KET. During the session, KET will
live stream committee meetings and chamber sessions. The
House Education Committee is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. every Tuesday and the
Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m. every Thursday. By the first day of the session, more than
287 bills had been filed, at least 36 of which involved
education finance. Be sure to follow KSBA on Twitter at
@KSBAnews and at
Facebook.com/KSBAnews for updates throughout the session.
Newport says no to charter school
The Newport Independent Board of Education on Dec. 26
voted unanimously to deny an application for a charter school proposed to target students from six northern Kentucky districts.
The vote to turn down the application from River Cities Academy came after a
32-person committee of educators
1,062-page application. The panel, which included representatives of area school districts, Northern Kentucky University, the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services and others,
recommended that the board deny the application, said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton.
“The applicant lacked specificity and provided unfinished planning in multiple areas that leave significant question as to whether or not the school will be able to launch successfully for a proposed August 2020 start date,” Middleton told the board of education before the vote. “The applicant does not provide data to support the complexities of the population to be served and relies on generalized notions of what the applicant believes should be good for all children.”
River Cities Academy proposed attracting up to 200 students from Newport, Covington, Dayton, Bellevue, Fort Thomas and Ludlow.
“This was a serious responsibility charged to the board of education,” said Newport Board Chairwoman Ramona Malone. “The board decision must be based on clear and objective evidence. The district brought in an unbiased panel of experts to make this recommendation.”
The applicants can appeal the decision to the Kentucky Board of Education.
Searching for an education commissioner
The new members of the Kentucky Board of Education will be selecting a new commissioner of education in the coming months. Several of the members, appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear on Dec. 10, have asked for input on the qualities that Kentuckians want to see in the next commissioner. Email the board members at email@example.com.
Why has board service remained so important to you?
Education was highly valued in my family. My parents grew up in the segregated South. My dad only got a sixth-grade education and my mom got up to eighth grade. When things improved in the latter part of the 1960’s, they took general education classes, GED classes, and my dad did receive his high school diploma before he passed away at age 61. They brought us up to have great attendance. We were not allowed to miss school for any reason unless we were sick. That's how important they valued public education. Anything I can do to help keep public education available for as many people as possible, I feel motivated to try to do my part.
What can new board members – or those considering board service –
expect to get out of this role?
Board members can see the effects on the people who are working in the schools; the teachers and the staff. Education is not the highest paid work in the world. When they see someone showing interest in what they're doing – appreciating what they are doing, asking about what they can do to help – it’s a mutually-affirming relationship. We're doing something good for the community, something good for the next generation.
Board service is continuous learning. KSBA organizes good conferences each year, so we get an opportunity to learn new developments as they're being rolled. Members also get refreshers on the nuts and bolts about taxes and how to be good stewards of financial oversight. You have the chance to meet other board members from around the state and talk to them about what's happening in their districts.
What public education issue are you going to be paying attention to during the legislative session?
I always pay attention to requirements for standardized testing. I think we have been able to make good use of some standardized testing, but I think we've invested too much money and time. We’re going overboard on it. They consume days out of the teaching calendar and take some of the joy out of teaching for both the students and the teachers and staff.
I also want to see more done about the societal problems students bring into the schools; adverse childhood experiences. Every educator I've talked to in recent years has seen the impacts of one or both parents not being there. In some cases, we have grandparents rearing their school-aged children because of the negative situations that one or both parents have been in. It all comes back to the schools being tasked with doing something to help the students when they show up, working with them as they are.
January is School Board Recognition Month. This is a special time for communities to say thank you to their school board members for their dedication and service. There is no shortage of ways to show appreciation for school boards, but KSBA wants to help make it easier. Check out KSBA’s comprehensive toolkit with templates and ideas for celebrating SBRM. Share with us how you commemorated SBRM by using the hashtag #LoveKySchoolBoards. We will share some of our favorites.
Tobacco-free schools rally planned
Ninety-seven percent of Kentucky school districts started the new year tobacco free. Just six of Kentucky’s 172 school districts have yet to adopt policies to prohibit the use of any tobacco products on campuses and in school vehicles, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Prior to passage of the
tobacco-free schools law this past year, only 42 percent of Kentucky school districts had voluntarily adopted the policy. The new law allows districts to opt-out, but the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, of which KSBA is a member, is working to encourage every district to opt in. Only Union County Schools has decided to adopt a policy that doesn’t comply and could still go tobacco-free in the future.
Foundation and Kentucky Medical Association are offering free signage to schools that went tobacco-free before the 2019 law. But the supply of signs is waning.
Download the order form.
The Coalition will hold rally at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort in support of laws designed to limit youth access to tobacco products.
Sign up for the rally.
Carter County passed the tobacco-free policy in December and Wolfe County has held first reading of the policy and is expected to pass it this month.
Beshear: Teacher sickouts did not violate law
Teachers who participated in protests at the state Capitol last year did not break the law, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Dec. 21. The decision reverses former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration’s determination that teachers violated
state law by participating in “sickouts” protesting anti-public education bills.
Beshear said nearly 1,000 teachers were wrongly accused of violating state labor laws and should not have been threatened with civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
“We are rescinding the prior administration’s stance to make clear that our teachers and educators never broke the law and are welcome in Frankfort,” he said.
The letter Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts sent the cabinet’s inspector general states the former secretary’s conclusion was contrary to law since there was no “strike” or “work stoppage” under state law. It also says teachers were exercising constitutional rights to speech, petition and assembly and not engaged in a dispute with their employers concerning the terms of their employment.
Education in Focus: Vision 2020
KSBA's 84th Annual Conference is six weeks away and we have three dynamic general sessions lined up.
Friday’s Opening Session will discuss the importance of brand identity as KSBA unveils its rebrand. Saturday’s Lunch/Plenary Session will look back at the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990 while discussing how those lessons can drive the next 30 years of public education. And Sunday’s Brunch Session will focus on empowering education leaders to create positive change within their schools.
In addition to the three general sessions, this year’s conference, which will be held Feb. 21-23 at the Galt House in Louisville, will offer members a variety of breakout sessions, including all the mandated topics.
Look for the conference registration brochure in your mailbox next week. The brochure will contain information on the more than 50 available sessions along with information on how to register online and info on hotel reservations.
And don't forget, district banners, which are perhaps our most popular annual conference tradition, must be received by KSBA by Feb. 20. The banners remind attendees of schools’ primary focus -- learning and learners.
Submitted banners must identify the school district and depict the conference theme of Education in Focus: Vision 2020.