By Matthew Tungate
The newly revamped Kentucky Board of Education fleshed out the state’s assistance program for persistently low-performing schools during its meeting in August.
Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 176 (KRS 160.346), which gives persistently low-performing schools four improvement-model options. One option is turning over the day-to-day operations of the school to an Educational Management Organization (EMO).
The Kentucky school board approved the first EMO in August. The department only received one response to its request for information (RFI), from Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services. The company has offices in New York and Atlanta, among other cities.
According to its RFI, the company brings virtual learning into a physical classroom, as well as incorporating online assessments and professional development. All students and teachers would have to have netbook computer access for the school year.
The board also reviewed proposed changes to regulations that it hopes will help persistently low-performing schools through addition by subtraction.
The Department of Education has eliminated its Highly Skilled Educator program, in which a specially trained educator would help improve the management and teaching practices in a struggling school, and replaced it with a new program called District 180.
Under the District 180 model, the department will “provide highly skilled leadership, support and education assistance for low-achieving schools,” according to the proposed regulation. District 180 would employ three Education Recovery Directors, who would be responsible for managing teams of one Education Recovery Leader (a mentor to the principal) and two Education Recovery Specialists (one each in mathematics and literacy) for each persistently low-performing school.
The board will vote on the changes, which have already been enacted, at its October meeting.
The meeting was the first for five new board members. They are:
- Jonathan Parrent of Caldwell County
- William Twyman of Barren County
- Roger Marcum of Nelson County
- Mary Gwen Wheeler of Jefferson County
- Martha Jones of Boyd County
The board voted David Karem as board chair, with Dorie Combs and C.B. Akins serving as vice-chairs.
The board also took the following actions:
- approved district facility plans for Cumberland, Hickman and Shelby counties
- approved district facility plan amendments for Lee and Montgomery counties
- approved the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) unmet need for school districts
- approved the KETS expenditure plan
- appointed Cynthia R. Houston and Cherissa L. Eden to the state Textbook Commission and Cletus Turner to the Kentucky Writing Program Advisory Committee
The Kentucky Board of Education’s next regular meeting is Oct. 6 in Frankfort.