A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Four bills advance through Senate, one by Sen. Schickel takes power of school councils to hire supt.

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Lawmakers wrapped up the Organizational Session of the 2019 General Assembly on Friday with four bills receiving final passage in the Senate.

One measure, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, would remove the power of site-based councils to hire principals for their schools, placing it back into the hands of the district’s superintendent, as it was prior to the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

During floor debate, Schickel said the councils are important and his bill does nothing to take away the other 11 responsibilities they have.

Damon Thayer

“Here are just a few of them: Determination of curriculum, assignment of instructional staff time, assignments of classes and programming, determining the school day schedule, how space is allocated, discipline and safety policies, extracurricular activities, the procedure used by the principal to hire teachers.”

He says his bill would also add another parent to the site-based council, so there would be two parents and two teachers, along with the principal. 

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, spoke in opposition, “This bill is very regressive,” she said, and an effort to dismantle KERA.

It passed 23-13, as did another bill dealing with teacher tribunals, sponsored by Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris. It includes removing the layperson from the tribunals, to be replaced with an attorney experienced in labor law, who would serve as hearing officer. It also specifies timetables for hearing and deciding on cases.

A third bill, approved by the Senate 30-6, would require monthly reporting of the dispensing of drugs that induce abortions (such as RU-486) to the Vital Statistics Branch of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Its sponsor, Sen. Robby Mills of Henderson, says it would also require the Vital Statistics Branch to issue an annual report and post it on the CHFS website.

A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would require all candidates for office to file their reports to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance electronically, beginning with the 2020 elections.

Thayer says most candidates now file paper copies, as the current software is cumbersome, outdated and costs $200.  Thanks to a $1.8 million appropriation a couple years ago, new software is under development, along with smartphone and tablet apps.

It passed 34-2.  All four measures now head to the House.

Lawmakers will be in recess until Feb. 5.

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