A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Senate bill moves school governance decisions away from school councils, back to superintendents

Staff report

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by NKY’s Sen. John Schickel, shifts school governance decisions away from school-based decision-making councils and back to superintendents. It was approved on a 25-9 vote in a rare Saturday session.

School-based decision-making was a key part of the landmark KERA reform of 1990. Membership of each council included parents, teachers, and an administrator of the school and promoted shared leadership among those who are closest to students. School councils had the responsibility to set school policy and make decisions outlined in the statute which was aimed at an environment to enhance student achievement.

The legislation, approved by the Senate Saturday, will put the selection of school principals back in the hands of school superintendents and also give local school superintendents authority to choose curriculum.

With GOP supermajorities in both chambers, the House will now consider the bill. As “Senate Bill 1,” it has been designated a leading priority among Senate Republicans for the 2022 session.

Sen. Schickel said the goal is to improve a local school governance system that’s “dysfunctional.” He said since school superintendents are hired and fired by locally elected school boards, making superintendents responsible for curriculum and hiring decisions will strengthen public accountability.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, the chamber’s top-ranking Democrat, told reporters Saturday that SB1 runs counter to the local control philosophy frequently discussed in the Senate.

Under the bill, superintendents would determine curriculum after consulting with the school principal and school council, and after reasonable review and response period. Superintendents also would have to consult with the school council before hiring a principal.

Summary of bill, provided by the Legislative Research Commission:

Amend KRS 160.345 to require that the superintendent instead of the council determines curriculum after consulting with the principal and school council and after a stakeholder response period; require allocations to schools by local boards be determined by the principal after consultation with the council instead of being determined by the council; alter principal hiring process requiring principal to be selected by the superintendent after consultation with school council; require council members to sign a nondisclosure agreement prior to consultation; allow for a complaint process and removal of a council member for violation of the nondisclosure agreement; amend KRS 158.6453 to require the Kentucky Department of Education to provide guidelines for effective writing programs to all districts instead of all schools; remove the requirement for schools to submit policies determining the writing program to KDE.

Follow Senate Bill 1 here.

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One Comment

  1. Great idea John. Let’s let teachers decide which kids they’re going to have in their classes. After all, they’re going to be held accountable for what happens in terms of their education. Let’s let principals decide which teachers he or she wants in their building. Talk about a recipe for patronage and the good old boy system. Try passing laws and something you might actually know something about.

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