(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, the commonwealth’s first and only free-market think tank, applauds the Kentucky Senate for today’s passage of legislation which will make long-overdue changes in the way public schools are governed.
Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. John Shickel, R-Union, brings greater equity to school-based decision making (SBDM) councils by requiring their membership be comprised of an equal number of teachers and parents.
SB 3 also returns to superintendents the authority to hire school principals and requires procedures allowing local boards of education to hear appeals and initiate a review of decisions made by school councils.
“I appreciate the work of the Bluegrass Institute and Kentucky School Boards Association in supporting policy reforms that return the proper balance of power to parents and superintendents and will ensure greater accountability in school council decisions,” Schickel said following today’s 23-12 vote on the Senate floor.
The bill now moves to the Kentucky House of Representatives for consideration.
“We appreciate Sen. Shickel’s strong commitment to reforming these policies,” Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters said. “It’s been our absolute privilege to support his efforts to restore a common-sense approach to the decision-making process involving our schools and education system.”
Staff education analyst Richard G. Innes, who authored this report highlighting barriers to education reform created by the SBDM approach, noted that support for the changes made by SB 3 cuts across a wide spectrum.
“Parents, superintendents and citizen-community members have all been expressing opposition to the current SBDM policy since it was created by the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990,” Innes said. “Parents and taxpayers are dismayed and shocked when they find out how little authority locally elected school board members and superintendents have over operations of the school councils.”
Children have suffered the consequences of these policies, Innes said, noting the latest testing results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which show only 29 percent of the state’s eighth-graders perform proficiently in math and just 34 percent reach reading proficiency and, still worse, only 9 percent of black students are proficient in math and just 16 percent read proficiently.
Likewise, he noted, superintendents across the commonwealth have had serious problems dealing with their districts’ schools because school councils, not superintendents, hire their own principals.
“The process can create huge disconnects where there is in reality little, if any, accountability to the local board or the superintendent for what goes on in individual schools,” Innes said.
Schickel noted during today’s floor debate that he had filed SBDM bills for several years and that the issues involved had been fully considered. The Bluegrass Institute has offered testimony at several committee hearings that occurred because of the senator’s determined pursuit of these reforms.
For more information, please contact Jim Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org, 859.444.5630 ext. 102 (office) or 270.320.4376 (cell).