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Education Groups Scrutinize Executive Order by Bevin

Flickr/Creative Commons/U.S. Department of Education

The Kentucky School Boards Association says it has some questions about an executive order by Governor Matt Bevin. 

The order creates a Charter Schools Advisory Council that will help implement charters for the first time in the commonwealth. 

“The historic charter school legislation passed during this year’s General Assembly session represents a truly momentous step forward in providing quality choices for Kentucky’s most vulnerable students,” said Gov. Bevin in a statement. “This advisory council will play a vital role in ensuring the success of this exciting new educational option. Public charter schools will create the promise of real opportunity for young people and their families where hope does not currently exist.”

Charter school legislation signed into law by Governor Bevin says local school boards and the mayors of Louisville and Lexington would be the primary authorizers of charter schools.

However, the governor’s executive order issued late Friday afternoon says the advisory council will review charter applications and make recommendations to the Kentucky Board of Education for final approval. 

"We're just trying to make certain that this doesn't in any way take away from what the law sets out as being the responsibility of the local school boards, at least as the starting point for charter school applications," stated Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association.

The law states the Kentucky Board of Education will only handle appeals when a local board denies a charter school application. 

The wide-ranging executive order also changes the makeup of the Kentucky Board of Education.  The governor will immediately appoint four non-members who can be present at all meetings, including closed sessions, but who don’t have voting power.  Future board members will have to meet new criteria. 

The order also abolishes the Education Professional Standards Board and sets up a new 15-member board selected by the governor.

Here are some highlight of the executive order provided by the KSBA:

Kentucky Board of Education

Current membership of the KBE is unchanged until existing terms expire.

However, the governor will be appointing four “non-voting, non-members” to the KBE: one member of the Council on Postsecondary Education; one member of the EPSB; one member of SCAAC; and a member of the new Charter School Advisory Council OR a person meeting new criteria for future appointments to KBE. The new criteria require a KBE member to be a parent of a public school student, or a person with a minimum of five years’ experience in the field of education, or a person with at least five years' business leadership experience.

The initial appointees will serve for a one year period.

These “non-voting, non-members” of the KBE are entitled to be present at all meetings – including executive sessions – and are “to be fully heard and to participate in all topics of discussion.”

Future appointees to the KBE must meet the criteria noted above. Numerically, that breaks down to one parent; at least four individuals with the five years’ experience in education – including one who must have postsecondary ed faculty in her/his background; and at least four people with the minimum five years’ business leadership experience, including one with a background “as an entrepreneur who has employed ten or more workers."

The commissioner of education will serve as executive secretary to the KBE, according to the executive order. However, KBE may now appoint its own staff member – an “administrative coordinator” – who will act as an “ombudsman” for the members of the state board.

Charter School Advisory Council

The governor has created a nine-member advisory body to the bodies noted above. Three appointees will also be KBE members, one appointee from SCAAC, a parent of a school-aged child, an attorney experienced in education law, a person with a business or finance background, and two people with education policy expertise. The governor will appoint a chair and vice chair.

Responsibilities of this council include:

• Reviewing and making recommendations to the KBE on all matters involving charter schools, including application criteria, performance monitoring, and revocations.
• Reviewing and making recommendations to KBE for final approval of charter applications.
• Recommending actions relating to appeals of charter applicants, renewals, nonrenewals and revocations.

The council is to be attached to the Kentucky Department of Education. The commissioner of education, upon request, is to assign designated staff to assist the council, including a designated staff liaison to the council.

Education Professional Standards Board

The existing 15-member EPSB is abolished and current board membership terms cease to exist. A new 15-member EPSB board will be appointed with the commissioner of education and the CPE president in ex officio voting capacities. The governor will appoint the remaining 13 members, subject to Senate confirmation, from these sectors:

• An elementary teacher
• A middle school teacher
• A high school teacher
• A STEM fields teacher
• An arts and humanities teacher
• A special ed teacher
• A career tech teacher
• A principal or school administrator
• A school counselor or psychologist
• A public postsecondary institution faculty member
• A private postsecondary institution faculty member
• A “dual appointee” of SCAAC

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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