The Senate Education Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would limit the authority of school-based decision making councils, considerably changing the way individual schools are governed.
School councils would have less power and take on more of an advisory role, and superintendents would have more authority, under Senate Bill 135.
School councils currently set policy and, along with superintendents, help select principals and teachers, and determine which textbooks should be used, among other roles.
Sen. John Schickel, (R, Boone)
Membership of each council includes parents, teachers and a school administrator such as a principal.
Generally, under Sen. John Schickel's bill, the superintendent would make decisions after consulting with the school council.
The bill passed 7-4 and now goes to the full Senate.
When the Kentucky legislature passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990, one major change was in governance, as school-based decision making councils were introduced.
Schickel, R-Union, said superintendents are held accountable for what happens in a school district but "we do not give them the tools they need to manage the school system effectively."
Two senators from Lexington — Republican Alice Forgy Kerr and Democrat Reginald Thomas — were among four on the committee who voted against the bill.
Officials with the Kentucky Association of School Councils spoke against the bill.
Heather Aldrich, president of the association's executive board, said Kentucky had made great gains with school councils. She fears the bill would eliminate teacher and parent voices in raising student achievement.
Aldrich is concerned about elements of the bill that would lessen a council's role on issues such as selecting teachers.
"This bill as written will probably not pass entirely through the system," said State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, who voted for the legislation.
But Higdon said "it starts a conversation."
Higdon said while some school-based decision-making councils are outstanding, "we have some that are not working so well."
Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said that organization is going to remain neutral on the bill.
Hughes said school board members are divided, both passionately supporting and opposing the proposed changes.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Senate Ed Committee sides with Superintendents, against parents
This from the Herald-Leader: