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December 14, 2023

In this issue:

  • Charter funding legislation ruled unconstitutional
  • KBE to meet today on commissioner search
  • Education a focus during inauguration
  • KSBA 2024 conferences theme: Keys to Success
  • Student artwork, performers wanted for 2024 conference
  • KSBA 2024 Legislative Priorities
  • 2023 Winter Symposium recap
  • Board members should check training hours
  • January is School Board Recognition Month
  • December Kentucky School Advocate available online
  • Upcoming dates, deadlines and events

Charter funding legislation ruled unconstitutional

The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday, struck down 2022’s House Bill 9 as unconstitutional, effectively undoing measures to fund charter schools in Kentucky. 

“A review of the case law, and the plain language of the Kentucky Constitution itself, yields the inescapable conclusion that ‘charter schools’ are not ‘public schools’ or ‘common schools’ within the meaning of our state’s 1891 Constitution,” Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd wrote in the Dec. 11 opinion.

Read Judge Shepherd’s opinion.

The Council for Better Education (CBE), joined by the boards of education in Jefferson County and Dayton Independent, challenged the legislation earlier this year, arguing that charter schools do not fit the Kentucky constitution’s definition of “common” (public) schools.

While the ruling impedes a would-be funding mechanism for charters, it doesn’t outright prevent the establishment of such schools.

“Legislation first passed in 2017 that allows for charter schools remains in effect,” said KSBA Staff Attorney John Powell. “The funding method in House Bill 9, allowing for funds to be transferred from local school boards to charter schools, is what was deemed unconstitutional by this ruling.”

By virtue of the court’s ruling, the language requiring charter school pilot projects in Jefferson County and Northern Kentucky is also no longer law, he added.

The action filed by CBE named the Kentucky education commissioner and the state’s department of education as defendants, however both said they would not appeal the ruling, however the Attorney General may.

“For those inquiring, the Kentucky Department of Education will not be appealing the decision,” KDE spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman said in a statement. “However, there are other parties to the lawsuit who may take further action.”

Shepherd’s ruling likely adds momentum to the Republican-led legislature’s efforts to pass a constitutional amendment, potentially putting the issue of public funds for non-public schools on the ballot in 2024. 

KBE to meet today on commissioner search

The Kentucky Board of Education will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss with its search firm the job description for the next education commissioner. Watch the 2 p.m. KBE meeting.

During the meeting, the board will also establish an interview committee for the search. On Dec. 7, the board hired McPherson & Jacobson LLC, a Nebraska-based search firm, to help it hire the next education commissioner.

The firm has conducted searches for education commissioners in Nebraska, Mississippi and Kansas. The contract runs through June 30, but subject to renewal, with total cost not to exceed $65,250.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to work with you on this most important task,” said Steve Joel, regional director of McPherson & Jacobson, who has conducted more than 100 national searches since joining the firm in 1996.

Joel said there is already quite a bit of interest in the Kentucky commissioner of education role and he hopes to have the position advertised before the holidays.

Joel said the goal is to hire an education commissioner by July 1.

Anyone hired by the KBE will then be subject to confirmation by the Kentucky state Senate. See the full McPherson & Jacobson contract.

Education a focus during inauguration

Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman were sworn in Tuesday for their second terms in office as part of the traditional inauguration festivities in Frankfort. Coleman, a former assistant principal, addressed education funding in her inaugural remarks.

“We cannot continue as the second-best state in economic development if we remain 40th in teacher pay,” she said. “We will not stay No. 3 in rural job creation if we continue to underfund the largest employer in every rural community, and that is their public schools.”

Earlier in the day, Kentucky educators, along with first responders, served as grand marshals for the inauguration parade.

KSBA 2024 theme unveiled

KSBA’s 2024 Annual Conference (March 1-3) is still a few months away, but preparations are in full swing. In addition to the work of staff, the association relies on a Conference Planning Committee of KSBA members who help brainstorm, improve event logistics and develop a conference theme.

This year, the committee challenged KSBA to think bigger when it came to the theme, something that extends beyond the three days members will be together in March. As a result, the 2024 theme will be utilized all year long, not just during the association’s Annual Conference, serving as a springboard for much of the association’s work in 2024.

KSBA’s theme for 2024 will be “Kentucky School Boards: Keys to Success.” This year’s theme will inform much of what we offer at all three association conferences next year. Including:

  • Annual Conference: “Unlocking Board Effectiveness”
  • Summer Leadership Institute: “Unlocking Next Level Leadership”
  • Winter Symposium: “Unlocking Student Achievement”

KSBA has asked districts to use "Keys to Success" when designing student banners for the association’s upcoming Annual Conference. 

Student artwork, performers wanted for 2024 conference

Student involvement is at the heart of what makes KSBA’s Annual Conference so special each year, and the tradition will once again be a centerpiece of the association’s 2024 conference, March 1-3, 2024, in Louisville. KSBA invites districts to showcase their talented students in the following ways:

  • KSBA asks each school district to submit student-designed banner artwork for display at the event and in conference materials. The banners serve as reminders to attendees of their primary focus – students. Banner artwork, submitted electronically, is also designed to commemorate the annual theme. Access banner criteria and instructionsBanners must be submitted no later than Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, to guarantee inclusion in conference displays, the commemorative book, on social media, etc. Last year, KSBA received banner artwork from 116 districts, and we hope to receive even more this year! 

  • Districts are also encouraged to submit applications for student performances. KSBA regularly provides opportunities for students to perform during conference general sessions and events: choirs, bands, ensembles, etc. Learn more and complete an online student performance application. Applications must be submitted by Dec. 15. Groups will be notified of acceptance by Jan. 5, 2024, to allow time for travel arrangements.

Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions about how you can showcase your district.

KSBA 2024 Legislative Priorities

Each year, the Kentucky School Boards Association releases a summary of priorities for advancing public education, strengthening Kentucky's 171 school districts and empowering local school boards. See KSBA's top four legislative priorities for the 2024 Regular Session as well as the association's guiding principles. Priorities and guiding principles were approved by KSBA's board of directors, comprised of 27 locally elected school board members throughout Kentucky.

2023 Winter Symposium recap

Education leaders from across the Commonwealth gathered for KSBA’s 2023 Winter Symposium, Dec. 8-9 in Louisville. School board members and administrators from approximately 90 districts took part in two days of learning and networking highlighted by 32 sessions and 30 trade show exhibitors. The weekend also played host to regular meetings of the state’s Local School Board Member Advisory Council and the association’s board of directors.

General sessions featured a school board member panel discussion as well as a keynote address from Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children (KECSAC) Executive Director Ronnie Nolan on serving the state’s most vulnerable students. This year’s symposium dedicated entire session blocks to showcasing state agencies that partner closely with school districts, from law enforcement to college coaches.

Attendees also took part in the event’s first giving challenge, raising roughly $1,500 for the KSBA Educational Foundation in support of the association’s First Degree College Scholarship and CTE Student Grant programs for high school students. By exceeding the challenge goal, an additional $1,500 in matching gifts were made by several symposium exhibitors (featured below).

Tax-deductible year-end gifts in support of KSBA’s student scholarships and grants can be made online via the Foundations website and/or checks made out to “KSBA Educational Foundation” can be mailed to KSBA at 260 Democrat Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601.

View a photo slide show from the 2023 Winter Symposium.

Board members should check training hours

By Dec. 31, school board members must complete their 2023 state-mandated board training. KSBA will be reaching out to board members (along with their superintendents and superintendent's administrative assistants) who appear to have not yet completed their required hours.


If you are still short of your training requirements, don’t panic! Some members with outstanding training only require an hour or less. This makes KSBA’s self-study module options a quick and convenient way to complete remaining hours. Access the order form for self-study training modules.


KSBA offices will close at 5 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 22 and will reopen Dec. 28.

If you require additional board training before the end of the year and you wish to request access to self-study training modules, you must contact KSBA by close of business on Thursday, Dec. 21. All self-study modules must be completed/received by 11:59 p.m.(EST) on Dec. 31, to count toward 2023 state-mandated training requirements. Please note that hours completed during this time will not be reflected immediately in the portal. KSBA staff will enter any training hours completed during the break once they return in January. 


Remember, KSBA has made it easy for members and administrators to monitor training hours at any time on the member training portal on KSBA’s website. Access our member training portal resources page and to login to check hours

If you have questions or concerns, contact Shannon Robinson, conference and training coordinator, at 502-783-1099 or at [email protected].

January is School Board Recognition Month

January is School Board Recognition Month, a time when schools and community stakeholders are encouraged to show their support and gratitude to the locally elected men and women charged with governance of your district.

Highlighting your board members has never been easier thanks to KSBA’s School Board Recognition Month toolkit – complete with social media graphics, templates, local celebration ideas, certificates and more! During the month of January, post your SBRM moments on social media and use the hashtag #LoveKySchoolBoards. KSBA will share many of our favorites!

Access KSBA's School Board Recognition month toolkit.

December Kentucky School Advocate available online

Lawmakers will return to Frankfort Jan. 2 to start the budget session of the General Assembly. Public education will likely be the subject of much debate and legislation during the 60-day session. Read more about the upcoming session and KSBA's Legislative Priorities in the December Advocate.

Also in the December Advocate:

Upcoming dates, deadlines and events

Dec. 15: Kentucky School Board Member of the Year Award nomination deadline

Dec. 15: KOSAA KUP Award nomination deadline

Jan. 1-31: School Board Recognition Month

Jan. 2: General Assembly convenes

Feb. 22-25: COSSBA Annual Conference

March 1-3: KSBA Annual Conference

This edition of KSBA Aware is made possible in part
by the following KSBA Affiliate Members.
Tier 1 Affiliates
Kentucky School Boards Association | 502-695-4630 |
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