Oct. 13, 2022

In this issue:

  • Supreme Court hears scholarship tax credit case
  • KBE approves CSI vendors, charter school regulations
  • KSBA welcomes new board team development director
  • Join our team! KSBA employment opportunities
  • State testing data to be released
  • Nominations open for KSBA's student scholarships and grants
  • Winter Symposium save the date
  • Call for nominations: 2023 Kentucky School Board Member of the Year
  • KSBA seeking applicants for association's board of directors
  • Districts to receive school board election questionnaire next month
  • PEAK Award returns for 2022-23, nominations now being accepted
  • October Kentucky School Advocate available online
  • KSBA kicks off final leg of 2022 regional meetings
  • Upcoming dates, deadlines and events

Supreme Court hears scholarship tax credit case

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments about whether a scholarship tax credit program to pay for private school tuition violates the state’s constitution.

The program, created by the legislature under House Bill 563 in 2021, would allow tax credits for donations to “education opportunity accounts.” Families could then use that money to pay for private school tuition in eight large counties and other education expenses in all counties.

After school districts, represented by the Council for Better Education, and several public school parents sued, a circuit judge ruled this that the law violates the Kentucky constitution's provision on spending public money on private schools.

The case skipped the court of appeals and, on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelbyville as part of the court’s outreach program.

Justices questioned whether the program amounted to a state appropriation or tax refund and noted that it only applied to certain counties, a practice that has been found unconstitutional. 

Justice Lisabeth Hughes questioned the nearly dollar for dollar match that donors would receive as a tax refund.

The school districts argued that the program is a state appropriation, evidenced by the legislature’s $125 million cap on the program.

“House Bill 563 does not actually spend public dollars. It simply lowers Kentuckians' taxes,” said Matthew Kuhn, an attorney representing Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office.

Justice Michelle Keller said though it might not spend public money, the state would still be losing money.

“It might divert what might otherwise be public money, because of the tax credits that are given,” she said. “I don’t know of many other tax credits for individual taxpayers that are almost dollar per dollar.”

She also pointed out if someone donated securities, they could end up making money on the transaction.

Byron Leet, an attorney representing CBE, said the program spends public money on private schools through a program the legislature created to circumvent the constitutional prohibition on doing so.

“It was done in such a way so as not to make it an obvious appropriation grant of public money, it was done in a clever, a more clever way to try to get around that obvious prohibition,” he said. “But the effect is absolutely the same. The effect is that the state of Kentucky is bearing the financial burden of this, not the individual taxpayer when you offer someone a dollar for dollar credit.”

Chief Justice John Minton did not give a timetable for the court’s ruling.

KBE approves CSI vendors, charter school regulations

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) on Tuesday and Wednesday approved the vendors who can serve as school turnaround providers for the lowest performing schools and approved new charter school regulations.

Under state law, the board was required to approve three vendors which could be hired by districts to help schools designated as Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools, those that are in the bottom 5% of Title 1 schools or have a graduation rate of under 67%.

Only two vendors, the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative and University of Virginia Partnership for Leaders in Education, met the qualifications of the education department’s request for proposals. The board approved both vendors.

Under state law, local school boards that have CSI schools can choose to work with one of the vendors or with KDE to improve student outcomes at those schools.

The new CSI schools will be identified after the state testing data is released on Tuesday.

During the second day of the two-day meeting, KBE approved new charter school regulations required by House Bill 9, the charter school law passed during the 2022 legislative session.

Commissioner Jason Glass said he believes HB 9 is unconstitutional and, if a lawsuit is filed, the Kentucky Department of Education will not defend the law, instead leaving that up to Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

The regulations, which were previously approved by the Local Superintendents Advisory Council, mostly mirror the statute. Under the new law, districts would be required to transfer a portion of both state funds and the local tax revenue they receive to a charter school.

KBE approved both emergency and permanent regulations because the statute includes deadlines that allow and, in some areas, mandate that charter schools open by next school year.

The board members, like the LSAC members, said they believe the law is unconstitutional but voted for the regulations because they are required to promulgate regulations under state law.

“I have grave concerns about the constitutionality as well as the feasibility of these regulations as a matter of practical implementation, especially as they relate to funding,” KBE Chair Lu Young said before the vote.

KBE member and former Boone County Superintendent Randy Poe echoed similar concerns.

“I think that these regulations unfortunately take local control out of the picture, and we have locally elected board members to make these decisions and they should be the ones making those decisions,” Poe said as he cast his vote. “But … we have a responsibility to do our part and then ultimately the courts will decide.” 

KSBA welcomes new Board Team Development director

On Oct. 11, KSBA welcomed Debra Webb as the association’s new director of Board Team Development. She brings with her a wealth of experience in training, program development and operational management, most recently having served as program director for LivWell Community Health Services in Paducah. Her skills also include volunteer management, fundraising and grant writing.

KSBA members will have the opportunity to meet Debra in December at the 2022 Winter Symposium in Louisville. She can be reached via email at debra.webb@ksba.org.

Join our team! KSBA employment opportunities

KSBA is hiring for the position of KSBA Policy and Procedure Consultant/eMeeting Trainer. This full-time Frankfort-based position is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day maintenance of public school district policies, procedures and other services for assigned districts. Access the full job description and online application link on KSBA’s employment opportunities page.

State testing data to be released

The Kentucky Department of Education on Tuesday will release the state assessment data for the 2021-22 school year.

The Kentucky School Report Card data will be released to the media under embargo on Friday to allow reporters time to craft stories and talk to school district leaders about the scores.

The embargo also allows districts time to craft their own press releases about their scores. The data will be made public on Tuesday.

In his Monday Message, Education Commissioner Jason Glass warned that the “scores are not where we would like for them to be.”

Glass urged educators to look at the results as a new baseline after two years of learning disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know seeing the assessment results will bring challenges for all of us,” he said. “Now that we know where our students are, let’s keep focusing on how to keep moving ahead to help make up for the unfinished learning over the past two years.” 

Nominations open for KSBA's student scholarships and grants

KSBA and the KSBA Educational Foundation will award nearly $25,000 in scholarships and grants to public high school students across Kentucky in 2022-23. Each of Kentucky's 171 school districts are challenged to put forward the names of eligible students. Nominations are now open for our First Degree College Scholarship program and CTE Student Grant program (previously called First Degree CTE scholarships).

For 2022-23, the First Degree College Scholarship program is expanding from four scholarships to five thanks to a generous gift from the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC). One of the five scholarships will be awarded to a high school senior from an OVEC member district while the other four scholarships will be awarded to students from districts statewide.

Beginning this year, all CTE Student Grants will be in the amount of $250 each. Grants will be awarded directly to selected students for use towards any costs associated with their career and technical education pathways; assessments, course materials, travel or other expenses incurred in pursuit of industry certification.

Access instructions, criteria and online nomination forms for KSBA’s 2023 First Degree College Scholarships and CTE Student Grants. The deadline is Nov. 30.  KSBA has moved the nomination forms online and streamlined the process. When nominating students, please note that some of the award criteria has changed.

Winter Symposium save the date

KSBA’s 2022 Winter Symposium is Dec. 9-10 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. This conference is the last in-person training event before the end of the calendar year – the deadline for all school board members to complete their annual state-mandated school board training hours.

The Winter Symposium of an election year is the ONLY time KSBA is allowed to bring in newly elected members before they are sworn in, giving them an opportunity to earn training for the following calendar year. If you expect new members joining your board following November’s elections, make plans to invite and register them for this conference. KSBA offers a full track of sessions tailor-made for new members and a jump start on their state-mandated board training.

Registration for this event will open later this month. More information can be found on KSBA’s Winter Symposium page.

Call for nominations: 2023 School Board Member of the Year

Nominations are open for KSBA’s 2023 School Board Member of the Year Award (BMOY). The BMOY was established this past year to honor the exemplary service of association members and to celebrate the critical roles school boards play in the advancement of public education in Kentucky. Selected honorees are those who have made significant contributions to public education through service on their local boards.

Board members, superintendents, district personnel and community members may nominate individuals for this award. Online nominations must be submitted by Dec. 16. Access BMOY award criteria, instructions and the online nomination form. Please read the criteria carefully for a full understanding of eligibility.

KSBA seeking applicants for association's board of directors

KSBA is seeking interested candidates to fill four director-at-large seats on its board of directors for a three-year term to begin February 2023.

Members of the KSBA Board of Directors focus their efforts on the shared interests of all Kentucky local public school districts as well as the health and relevancy of the association. Any Kentucky school board member in good standing may place his or her name before KSBA’s Selection Committee by submitting the online application by Nov. 15. The committee will make selections based on application information and in-person interviews to be held during KSBA’s Winter Symposium, Dec. 9-10 in Louisville.

For a complete description of KSBA Board of Director responsibilities, expectations and the online application, visit KSBA’s board of directors page

Districts to receive school board election questionnaire next month

District central offices should mark their calendars for Nov. 9. On this date, KSBA will distribute its 2022 post-election questionnaire. We will rely on districts to provide information on newly elected and outgoing school board members.

Why is this important to complete the questionnaire in the days immediately following the election? The sooner KSBA has information on newly elected school board members and outgoing members, the sooner we can provide districts additional resources for onboarding those who will be sworn in this January.

Newly elected school board members, for instance, are eligible to attend KSBA’s 2022 Winter Symposium in December to get a head start on state-mandated training for 2023. By providing their information, we can quickly connect with them to register for the symposium and to better prepare them for their first few months of service (oaths of office, open meetings training, etc.).

Questions? Contact KSBA Publications Manager Brenna Kelly at 502-783-0085 or brenna.kelly@ksba.org.

PEAK Award returns for 2022-23, nominations now being accepted

KSBA's Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and we invite you to nominate a program from your district for consideration.

The PEAK Award was established in 1997 to focus statewide attention on outstanding public school efforts aimed specifically at enhancing student learning skills and, in doing so, to promote the positive impact of public elementary and secondary education in the Commonwealth.

After a one-year hiatus, the PEAK Award returns with a few changes. The award will now be awarded annually and the winner will be announced during KSBA's Annual Conference in February. This year, all nominations must be submitted online.

Throughout the past quarter-century, KSBA has honored more than 50 programs throughout the state with the PEAK Award. We are looking for programs that are innovative, address a need and have proven results. Therefore, a program must have been implemented at least one year prior to the nomination deadline.

KSBA encourages all eligible districts to consider submitting a nomination for the prestigious award. Entries must be submitted by the local board of education or district administrators. The deadline to submit entries is Nov. 15. More information on entry guidelines can be found on KSBA's website. Please contact Matt McCarty with questions via email or at 502-783-0074.

October Kentucky School Advocate available online

Since the passage of a law designed to protect Kentucky students, school safety officials say the state's schools are safer than they were five years ago. See what a new report says about school safety in the October issue of the Kentucky School Advocate.

Also in the October Advocate:

KSBA kicks off final leg of 2022 regional meetings

Only five dates remain for KSBA’s 2022 slate of fall regional meetings. See below for regions and their locations.

  • Oct. 18 - Eastern Ky. South Region (Paintsville)
  • Oct. 20 – Fourth Region (Harned)
  • Oct. 24 – Third Region (Morgantown)
  • Nov. 1 - Upper Cumberland Region (Williamsburg)
  • Nov. 3 - Eastern Ky. North Region (Ashland)

This year’s program offers interactive roundtable discussions on school safety issues facilitated by KSBA and the Office of the State School Security Marshal. Additional details on the remaining meetings, including times, host sites and contact information are available on KSBA’s regional meeting page

Upcoming dates, deadlines and events

Oct. 18: Interim Joint Education Committee meeting 

Oct. 18: KDE Superintendents Webcast

Oct. 19: Budget Review Subcommittee on Education 

Nov. 8: Election Day 

Dec. 9-10: KSBA Winter Symposium, Louisville

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 | ksba.org
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