School Boards Association says it will support any legislation to make all schools in state tobacco-free

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Usually opposed to statewide mandates on schools, the Kentucky School Boards Association says it will support any legislation that proposes a statewide tobacco-free school law in the 2018 legislative session, because the majority of its members support such a law. “We really try to protect local decision-making on these things,” Eric Kennedy, director...

Commentary: Major education association leaders respond to latest state pension reform proposals

Casey Allen, Bo Matthews, David Webster, Stephanie Winkler and Cherie Dimar Special to KyForward Providing the best learning opportunities we can to each and every child is among the most important functions of our state government. In fact, this is among the only constitutional requirements of our General Assembly. As representatives of educators, local school leaders and parents, we believe it is...

David Webster: October is Energy Awareness Month and reduced usage helps bottom line of KY schools

As we kick off what has traditionally been Energy Awareness Month, it is important to note the impact lowered energy usage can have on not only the environment, but also on the finances of public entities. Nowhere is the impact clearer than in Kentucky’s schools. The Kentucky School Boards Association has worked with local school districts since 2010 to better manage the energy usage in their buildings....

Makeup of Kentucky Board of Education, Professional Standards Board, others will change

By Brad Hughes and Madelynn Coldiron Kentucky School Boards Association Last Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin announced a series of reorganizations involving both policy making and advisory bodies related to K-12 and higher education, including the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB). The governor’s executive order also establishes a charter school advisory...

Commentary: All schools can have charter-like autonomy if they also accept charter accountability

By Gary Houchens Special to KyForward During Kentucky’s debate over becoming the 44th state to allow charter schools, and especially since the charter law successfully passed the state’s General Assembly in March, I have often heard public school advocates ask why, if autonomy seems to be a key to charter school success, shouldn’t all schools – including those operated by public...

Commentary: Public officials should be able to disagree with each other without being disagreeable

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward The 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly has adjourned sine die, and it didn’t come a day too soon. I’ve observed legislative sessions – up close and at a distance – for more than four decades, and the 2017 session will live in my memory for two items of irony: — The discussion of requiring all high school graduates in Kentucky to pass a civics...

KSBA school energy program earns fourth straight federal ENERGY STAR partner recognition

The Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) has been named a 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award winner for continued leadership in protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency achievements. KSBA’s accomplishments on behalf of Kentucky’s public schools will be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy...

Pruitt says rewrite of federal, state laws won’t hinder recent work to create new accountability system

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt says the year-long work to redesign Kentucky’s school accountability system isn’t threatened by either Senate Bill 1 – still pending in the 2017 legislature – which will dictate some aspects of the system, or by the Trump administration drafting new regulations on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) after Congress...

Republican senators scale back statewide smoke-free efforts to cover just public schools, activities

Two Republican state senators who couldn’t make progress toward a statewide smoke-free law are shooting for a lesser goal: a ban on use of tobacco products on public school property or at any school-sponsored activity. “It’s the first time to be presented to the legislature, but we are optimistic that it will become law,” Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Winchester physician, told the Lexington Herald-Leader....

Coach at Heart: Superintendent of the Year Henry Webb uses sports background in current position

By Mike Marsee Special to KyForward “Coach” hasn’t been in Henry Webb’s job title in more than a dozen years, but he is still very much a coach at heart. As superintendent of the Floyd County schools, Webb is responsible for what he calls Team Floyd, which is working to ensure a better future for children in the county that is his home. “The heart of a coach’s job is to make people better...

Pruitt: Charter schools coming to state, approval should begin with local board of education

By Brad Hughes Kentucky School Boards Association Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt said that he believes charter schools are in Kentucky’s immediate future, and that “definitions” spelled out in any law coming out of the 2017 General Assembly will be critically important. He also said Kentucky will take advantage of a U.S. Department of Education (USED) decision last week to give states...

Bevin to appoint nearly half of state school board, professional standards board soon

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward Gov. Matt Bevin is about to have a significant impact on elementary and secondary education policy direction in the Commonwealth when he makes multiple appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education and the Education Professional Standards Board. And a lack of action during the 2016 General Assembly means the governor will be making appointments to nearly half of...

KDE to do all it can to protect students, but Pruitt warns of potential diminishing returns academically

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt told the Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee Tuesday that Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal for mid-year spending cuts and further reductions over the next two years will make it hard to avoid a negative impact in the state’s public school classrooms. Mirroring remarks they made last week to a House K-12 budget...

Budget’s proposed nine percent across-the-board reduction will touch many but not all K-12 programs

The big news for Kentucky public schools from Tuesday’s release of Gov. Matt Bevin’s first state budget proposal was covered by the mainstream media: $1.1 billion in new funding to shore up the KTRS and KRS pensions for teachers and other state workers, and a slight increase in SEEK funding that reflects more students enrolled, thus maintaining the current per-pupil state support level. The governor’s...

More than 100 Kentucky school systems still closed in wake of last week’s two winter storms

For the second time this winter, more than 100 of Kentucky’s 173 public school districts have darkened classrooms after officials determined that road conditions remain too unsafe following two snow storms last Wednesday and Friday. A small number of districts announced that the closings so far this year have eaten up their previously scheduled makeup days. That means some tough decisions on calendar...

Dedication to excellence, willingness to change makes state education system strong, Pruitt says

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward In what is to become an annual event for him, Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt Thursday issued his inaugural State of K-12 Public Education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, saying the status is “strong (because) Kentucky has had dedication to excellence in education for all and a willingness to embrace change when it really needed to.” Employing aspects...

Winter keeps firm grip on the Commonwealth, most schools closed again due to snow

The winter of 2016 isn’t releasing its grip on Kentucky school districts this week, with most schools closed for a second day and an even larger storm predicted for some parts of the Commonwealth starting early Friday. According to news media outlets linked on the KSBA winter closing web page, students are missing classes Thursday in at least 140 school systems. That compares to more than 160 districts...

Commentary: Disconnect between school leaders, legislators could mean lost opportunities in 2016

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward It was a moment that was, for me, at first surprising, but upon further reflection, downright astonishing. It was even a bit embarrassing. At a recent regional educational cooperative meeting, a state legislator, talking with superintendents about communications between educators and lawmakers, made the following statement: “I’ve never been contacted by a single...

Legislative Outlook 2016: Much is at stake for public education as General Assembly opens new session

By Madelynn Coldiron Special to KyForward There is one sure thing going into the 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly: that there is no sure thing. “With the ever-changing dynamics in the legislature, a new commissioner and a new governor, I have never had so many question marks beside a legislative session this close to the beginning,” KSBA Governmental Relations Director Hope McLaughlin...

Proposed settlement a multimillion dollar reduction for districts served by LG&E, KU

By Brad Hughes Special to KyForward   A settlement involving a coalition of schools, led by the Kentucky School Boards Association, is on track to win reductions in proposed utility rate increases, and could provide continuation of funding to support school energy-efficiency efforts.   Late Tuesday, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities announced an agreement with schools,...