KBE lays out next steps in search for new education commissioner

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Kentucky Board of Education Special Meeting January 17, 2020(FRANKFORT, KY) – At a special meeting Jan. 17, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) appointed board members Cody Pauley Johnson, Sharon Porter Robinson and Lee Todd to a team that will evaluate proposals from executive search firms vying to help the board find Kentucky’s next education commissioner.

The board voted to create an RFP Evaluation Team. The team will view the proposals, which are being accepted until 2:30 p.m. ET Jan. 24, and is expected to make a recommendation to the full board at a special meeting Feb. 12.

“We are anticipating an aggressive timeline for our search team,” said Robin Kinney, associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Finance and Operations. “We’d like to, under ideal circumstances, have a new commissioner on board by July 1.”

Board Chair David Karem said the board is “committed to moving aggressively, quickly” and “very deliberately to get a new commissioner of education.”

Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown said the board will hold a special meeting in Louisville after the executive search firm is chosen to develop a list of the qualities they believe the next commissioner should possess. Brown is hopeful former Kentucky Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit will facilitate that meeting, which he also did during the 2015 commissioner search.

To prepare for the search, the KBE directed the department to create a survey asking the public what qualities they want in a new commissioner. It will be released to the public next week and promoted to all Kentucky residents to get as broad a range of opinions as possible.

“This is something that has happened in the past,” Karem said. “We want to make sure people do have an opportunity to express their opinions about what the qualities ought to be for a new commissioner.”

The board also approved the policy priorities for the 2020 legislative session and reviewed the budget request for the biennium that was submitted to the governor’s office in November 2019.

The policy priorities include a statement of support for the governor and the general assembly to “determine revenue options that provide adequate and equitable resources dedicated to improving educational opportunities and academic achievement in the Commonwealth.”

The policy priorities also support amending regulation 701 KAR 8:020, which requires local school boards to get 12 hours of training annually on the charter school approval process.

Tracy Goff Herman, interim director of government relations, told the board that there seems to be momentum to change the regulation to require the training for a school board only after an application to open a charter school has been submitted.

“I think we can have an answer this session,” Goff said.

Other legislative priorities include:

  • Supporting legislation that would ratify the executive order reorganizing the Education Professional Standards Board within KDE;
  • Funding that would support moving from half-day kindergarten to full-day kindergarten;
  • Additional funding for local area vocational education centers to fund new centers and new career pathways within existing centers, as well additional funding to address a variety of operational needs associated with the state-funded area technology centers; and
  • Improving aspects of the facility approval process, including streamlining local district’s compliance efforts to meet the requirements of Senate Bill 1 (2019).

In other business, the board:

  • Voted to appoint Lu Young as vice chair.
  • Voted to reduce the number of standing committees from three to two. While the KBE usually has had two standing subcommittees, the previous board added a Finance Committee. Karem said he felt finance was an important enough topic that he believed those issues should be heard by the entire board. The standing subcommittees now will be the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee and the Operations Committee.
  • Voted to make Holly Bloodworth chair of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee and Lee Todd chair of the Operations Committee. Patrice McCrary was named chair of the Awards Committee.

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