Disclaimer: The content below is only intended to inform readers about legislation that may impact Kentucky public schools. Kentucky School Talk never endorses legislation, including the five bills mentioned below.
I’m in the middle of an internal debate. Which is crazier: March Madness, or Kentucky’s legislative sessions? As a lifelong #BBN supporter and a career educator, I’m torn. But March is two months away, so my eyes are solely on the legislature and any potential moves that may impact Kentucky’s schools and students.
And with that in mind, it’s time for another #KYEdUpdate. Here are 5 bills to keep an eye on as the General Assembly resumes next month.
Senate Bill 1
Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act, was introduced earlier this month to help address school safety issues. With the tragic Marshall County High School shooting still lingering in our minds, this bill would create statewide positions for school security marshals to help prevent future threats. It would also set goals to hire more school resource officers, mental health professionals, and mandate suicide prevention training for teachers and staff. Check it out:
Senate Bill 3
Without a doubt, Senate Bill 3 is the most controversial education bill on the table this session. This bill would change the current make-up of school councils, reducing teacher representatives on councils from three teachers to two. The local school board would require an annual report from each school’s council about activities for the year, and any teacher that serves on the school council could be transferred to another school during the school year. School superintendents could refer names of applicants directly to the principal instead of the school council. The superintendent would also make the decision of who to hire as principal instead of allowing the council to choose their administrator. SB3 has passed the Senate and now waits for the members of the House.
Senate Bill 8
Suspended or fired teachers in Kentucky can appeal to a tribunal hearing, which then decides whether or not they may return to their position. As The Herald-Leader points out, many Kentucky teachers who have been fired or suspended end up returning as a result of the tribunal system. Currently, a tribunal hearing is made up of a selected group of the teacher’s peers, administrators, and a layperson.
Senate Bill 8 would alter the tribunal system, removing the layperson from the group and requiring an attorney to serve as a hearing officer and chairman of the tribunal. This bill has passed the Senate and has been moved to the House.
House Bill 8
Next on the list, House Bill 8 would direct schools to help identify students with dyslexia. Despite dyslexia becoming more and more prevalent in our school systems, it is still tricky to diagnose. This bill would establish require school districts to establish policies on identifying dyslexia in students between kindergarten and third grade. The bill also requires that colleges and universities implement dyslexia training within their teacher education programs by the 2020-2021 school year.
House Bill 22
Finally, House Bill 22 would change the way that school board vacancies work. Currently, if a district-level board of education has a vacancy, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education holds the power to to appoint a replacement to that vacancy. HB22 would remove that power from the Commissioner and instead redirect it back n to the local board, which would then appoint by a simple majority vote.
Of course, there are other bills that have been introduced that could stand to impact Kentucky education, but these five seem particularly likely to passed sometime during #KYGA19. When our legislators return to Frankfort next week, we’ll find out.