The Kentucky General Assembly is now a little over a month into its 2020 regular session and numerous education bills have been discussed.

Senate Bill 7

Senate Bill 7 seeks to redesign how school-based decision making councils function within each district. If passed, bill will redesign two major functions within local districts and SBDMs.

First, it will allow teachers who are part of their school’s SBDM to transfer — or be transferred — to another school within the district. For example, currently if a teacher at Christian County High School is part of the SBDM wanted to transfer to another school at Christian County Public Schools — for a promotion or any other reason — that teacher would not be allowed to transfer.

This bill would eliminate that barrier.

The bill will also pull some power from SBDMs and place that power within the superintendent’s office.

“If the vacancy to be filled is the position of principal, the superintendent shall conduct the hiring process and, after 22 consultation with the council, shall select someone to fill the principal vacancy,” the bill states.

Though the superintendent will consult the SBDM, the ultimate hiring power would be taken from the council’s hands.

That bill passed 20-15 in the Senate State & Local Government Committee and was passed to the House Education Committee on Feb. 10.

Senate Bill 8

Senate Bill 8 is an act relating to school safety. The bill clarifies the definition of a school resource officer to mean a “means a Kentucky State Police officer, CVE R Class, or Trooper R Class, as defined in KRS 16.010, who is employed by a school district as a school resource officer, … through a contract as secondary employment for the officer.”

The biggest change in this bill from current legislation is that it requires all SROs to carry a firearm. The bill makes it clear that the officer must carry a firearm in spite of “any provision of local board policy, local school council policy, or memorandum of agreement.”

CCPS currently uses Christian County Sheriff’s Office deputies through secondary employment as its SROs.

That bill was passed by both the senate and house and delivered to Gov. Andy Beshear on Feb. 10.

Senate Bill 158

Senate Bill 158 looks to change the Kentucky Department of Education’s accountability system. The current accountability system was enacted by the former KDE board and former Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.

As one of his first acts as governor, Beshear replaced the entire KDE board and Lewis eventually resigned.

One of the biggest changes proposed in the bill is changing how schools are graded by the state under its current statewide accountability system. Currently, all schools are graded on proficiency in reading and math; academic indicators in science, social studies and writing; growth of english language learners and school safety.

High schools are also graded on transition readiness and graduation rate. Those ratings are calculated and each school is given a rating between one and five stars.

In 2019, Crofton, Indian Hills, Millbroke, Sinking Fork and South Christian Elementary Schools as well as Hopkinsville Middle School were rated with three star.

The proposed accountability system would rate schools only on K-PREP scores, progress of english proficiency by limited-english speaking students, school safety, graduation rates and postsecondary readiness.

As the bill is written now, the star system would be eliminated.

SB 158 was introduced to the senate on Feb. 10 and went to the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 12.

Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or jrusselburg@kentuckynewera.com.

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