Host Renee Shaw led the panel which included KSBA’s Director of Advocacy Eric Kennedy, Education Commissioner Jason Glass, Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, and Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville.
After the General Assembly voted to remove the statewide mask mandate in schools during a special session, most school districts decided to continue to require masks.
“We felt like it should be a local decision, but we were not surprised at all that a lot of the school systems decided to keep the mask mandate,” Riley said. “If anybody cares about the students in their area, it’s superintendents and the local school boards and the teachers.”
Kennedy said that after the session school boards did not hear a lot of uproar about masks.
“I’ve heard my members say at the very end it was almost anti-climactic, there was not a lot of outreach, there was not a lot of opposition to what the boards ended up doing,” he said.
Most parents and board members wanted to do whatever they could to keep kids in schools, he said.
Many districts developed their own metrics about when masks would no longer be required – such as decreasing incidence rates and increasing vaccination rates, he said. That gives communities more incentive to get vaccinated.
Kennedy also noted the many school boards have voted to match the $100 vaccine incentive for employees from the Kentucky Department of Education. An increase in staff vaccinations will mean a decrease in the chance schools will have to close because of a high number of staff in quarantine, because the CDC says vaccinated people do not have to quarantine.
As of Wednesday, at least 46 districts had paused in-person learning since the school year began. Some districts have had to stop in-person instruction more than once.
In addition to increased vaccination rates, Kennedy noted that many districts have started “test to stay” programs which allow both students and staff who would otherwise be required to quarantine after an exposure to stay in school.
“The districts that have started that already are showing tremendous success in keeping students in the classroom safely, which is the number one goal of everyone in the conversation,” he said.
UK doctors discuss COVID-19's impact on children
Two doctors from the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital participated in a Q&A on Facebook Live about the coronavirus Delta variant's impact on children and how to keep children safe.
Dr. Scottie Day, physician in chief, and Dr. Sean McTigue, interim chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, both stressed the vital importance of in-person school with layered mitigation strategies.
"Using mitigation strategies to keep those kids safe, that's really what this is all about," Day said. "We want things to be safe, we want kids in school, we want them learning, we want them to have those social networks."
As local school board leaders will now be making many of the decisions regarding local mitigation plans, quarantine rules and masking policies, the Q&A may be very helpful.
McTigue noted that more young people have been admitted for COVID to the hospital this year, but that none of those admitted have been vaccinated and most of those admitted have been over 12 years old and therefore able to be vaccinated.
They also said that the No. 1 indicator of severe COVID in those under 18 at UK Children's Hospital has been if the youth is overweight.
Superintendents ask legislators for kindergarten funding
Three superintendents testified before a legislative committee last week about the need to make full-day kindergarten funding permanent.
Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, has prefiled a bill for the upcoming regular session of the General Assembly that would allow districts to receive full SEEK funding for kindergarten students. During the previous regular session, lawmakers provided $140 million for full-day kindergarten for one school year.
As of Wednesday, bill request 275 had 11 co-sponsors including both Republicans and Democrats.
Prior to this school year, the state only funded half-day kindergarten. Most districts already offered full-day kindergarten, paying for half of the costs with local funds. Some districts charged parents tuition to cover the half-day and at least one district offered full-day kindergarten at some elementary schools but not all.
Tipton noted that school districts need to know whether the funding will remain in order to plan. “As school leaders you need certainty,” Tipton said.
Daviess Co. Schools started full-day kindergarten 22 years ago, Robbins said. If the legislature provides permanent full-day funding, the district would be able to reinvest in early learning opportunities for students, he said.
“Our lofty goal is to make public preschool an available option to all students,” Robbins said.
Wasson told legislators that the full-day kindergarten funding has freed up $87,000 the district can now use for other things. The district had been funding full-day kindergarten on its own at the cost of cuts to middle and high school staff.
“Even though we’ve been able to have full-day kindergarten, it’s been a real challenge for us to be able to maintain all the programs that larger districts can provide,” Wasson said.
Full-day kindergarten is an “absolute must” for his district to be able to compete with so many districts in northern Kentucky, Garrison said.
KSBA board gathers for Sept. meeting in Louisville
KSBA’s Board of Directors gathered Sept. 24 and 25 in Louisville at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens for its September meeting. As part of Friday’s work session, members took part in a tour of the grounds and heard a presentation on the site’s various educational programs. Board members learned about field trip opportunities, camps, school partnerships and the versatile use of the 6,000-square foot Leslie Botanical Classrooms.
Saturday’s business meeting took place at the garden's Graeser Family Education Center. The meeting opened with a moment of silence for those lost during the pandemic and for last week’s bus stop shooting that killed a Jefferson County Schools student and injured two others.
The agenda prompted in-depth discussion of the association’s strategic direction. This included setting organizational goals as part of the executive director’s annual evaluation, exploring board-prioritized initiatives and approval of KSBA’s outside auditor’s unqualified (clean) opinion regarding 2020-21 financial statements.
The board also approved updated policies and processes that grant KSBA staff greater work-from-home flexibility while still providing an exceptional standard of service to members.
KSBA’s next board meeting will be held Dec. 3 in Louisville coinciding with the 2021 Winter Symposium.
The association is grateful to the Waterfront Botanical Gardens for inviting our directors to their facilities for the weekend's board activities. Visit the WBG’s website for more information, including summaries of school programs.
Pandemic impacts state test scores
Stressing that the scores cannot be compared to previous year's scores and were greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Department of Education on Wednesday released the results of the statewide assessments.
“We knew these results would not be what we wanted to see, but the previous two school years saw extreme challenges,” said Education Commissioner Jason Glass. “We can use this information to address the gaps caused by COVID-19 disruptions and provide our students with the supports they need to be successful. This is one of a variety of tools our districts use on a regular basis to gauge where our students are.”
The state had asked for a waiver from the federal government for this year’s testing, but was denied.
The assessments, taken last spring, are now called the Kentucky Summative Assessment. Also for the first time this year, the test was based on all new Kentucky Academic Standards.
“These are unusual times. We had fewer students taking the tests. We are testing on a different set of standards and using different test forms,” Glass told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
KDE applied for and received a waiver from federal accountability. Therefore, school accountability indicators and ratings are not part of the 2020-21 reporting. The data is available on the Kentucky School Report Card.
Students also participated in the Opportunity to Learn survey which can be found in the Quality of School Climate and Safety survey under the Learning Environment tab on the Open House website.
Save the date for a free webinar on “terrible habits” of board service
KSBA recently wrapped its eight-week guided member book study of "How Not to Be a Terrible School Board Member,” but now all members have an opportunity to discuss topics covered in the text. At noon (ET) Wednesday, Oct. 20, KSBA will present “Breaking Terrible Board Habits,” a free one-hour webinar to discuss several of the themes identified in the book.
Author Richard Mayer, a longtime local school board member and educational psychologist, takes an often-humorous approach to identifying behaviors that impede the important work of school boards. Examples of Mayer’s “terrible habits” include humiliating a district employee in public, coming unprepared to board meetings, arguing with a hostile speaker and taking political stands.
This short webinar, facilitated by KSBA trainer and former Jefferson County school board member Debbie Wesslund, is open to all members, not just those who took part in the association’s book study. Participants can earn one hour of elective board training credit for taking part in the webinar. Click the button below to register. Registration is required and space is limited.
Regional Meetings feature survey results, discussions of education topics
KSBA's 2021 Regional Meeting tour is well underway. Your association hits the road for the final five meetings beginning Oct. 19. The remaining meetings include:
Oct. 19 – Johnson Co. hosts the Eastern Ky. South Region meeting
Oct. 21 – Nelson Co. hosts the Fourth Region meeting
Oct. 25 – Butler Co. hosts the Third Region meeting
Nov. 1 – Whitley Co. hosts the Upper Cumberland Region meeting
Nov. 4 – Boyd Co. hosts the Eastern Ky. North Region meeting
More details, including meeting times and locations are available via the Regional Meeting page of KSBA's website. Districts receive emailed invitations to their respective regional meetings from the host district/regional chair in the weeks prior to each meeting.
Not sure which region your district belongs to? View a listing of districts by region. If you have a conflict on the date of your assigned region’s meeting, you may request to attend another region’s meeting by contacting the host region directly.
Kentucky Safe Schools Week set for Oct. 17-23
The Kentucky Center for School Safety announced that Kentucky Safe Schools Week will be commemorated the week of Oct. 17-23. This year’s theme is “Be a Safety Star.”
“The students who follow the rules, support others in need, show kindness and respect to all are truly, bright shining safety stars,” KCSS shared in its announcement.
KSBA is a proud partner of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.
October webinar: “Essentials of Effective (Supt.) Evaluations”
KSBA's “Learn and Earn” webinar series offers relevant topics at noon (ET) on the second Wednesday of each month, providing school board members with convenient opportunities to earn required training credits. Pre-registration is required, and space is limited to 100 viewers each session. All Learn and Earn webinars count for one hour of board training credit.
KSBA’s next Learn and Earn webinar, "Essentials of Effective Evaluations," is Oct. 13. This one-hour virtual training meets the mandated superintendent evaluation training requirement for board members. One of the most important responsibilities of board members is to hire and evaluate their superintendents. Effective evaluation takes planning, preparation, and ongoing team conversations. This session helps board members find answers to essential questions such as why, what, and how, while exploring skills necessary to become effective evaluators in an effective process.
KSBA launches inaugural School Board Member of the Year Award
Nominations for KSBA’s 2022 School Board Member of the Year (BMOY) Award are currently being accepted. Established this past summer by an advisory committee of current/former KSBA presidents, award winners and KSBA leadership staff, the new BMOY Award honors exemplary service of association members and celebrates the critical roles school boards play in the advancement of public education in Kentucky. The award is designed by school board members, judged by school board members, and presented to school board members – serving as the association’s highest individual honor to be presented each year at KSBA’s Annual Conference.
Nominations open for KSBA's First Degree college and CTE scholarships
Nominations are now open for KSBA's 2022 First Degree Scholarships. Once again, the association will provide four college-bound high school seniors each with $2,500 scholarships toward the pursuit of postsecondary degrees. As the name suggests, scholarship recipients will be the first in their immediate families to complete a postsecondary degree.
New this year, KSBA is excited to announce we will also be awarding at least 24 career and technical education (CTE) scholarships to Kentucky public high school students (one male and one female student in each of KSBA’s 12 regions). CTE scholarships will fund Industry Certification assessments for students still in high school. Eligible nominees come from immediate families whose members (parents, guardians, siblings) have not previously earned a postsecondary degree.
In total, KSBA will award approximately $22,000 in scholarships for students this year.
Questions about KSBA's scholarship opportunities? Contact Josh Shoulta.
The First Degree Scholarship program is made possible by the generous support of our members, partners and education leadership like you. If you wish to help KSBA strengthen our scholarship offerings, please consider a meaningful gift to the KSBA Educational Foundation. Learn how to give.
KSBA in the news
KSBA is often called on by media outlets to discuss important school-related issues. Here are some of the stories to which your association contributed in recent weeks.