Graphic reading: Kentucky Board of Education, October 5, 2021

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) approved the 2022-2024 biennial budget requests put forward by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) during its regular meeting on Oct. 5.

KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney and KDE Division Director Karen Wirth of the Office of Finance and Operations discussed proposed additional budget requests (ABRs). The KBE reviews all formal budgetary requests before they are submitted to the governor and executive branch.

Among the ABRs presented during the meeting, the board identified their top five priorities, including funding for:

  • Full-day kindergarten and preschool;
  • SEEK transportation;
  • Career and technical education;
  • Professional development and National Board Certification salary supplements for teachers; and
  • Social and emotional learning (SEL) and mental health.

When discussing these priorities, KBE member JoAnn Adams pointed out the importance of increasing funding for school transportation.

“Right now, our students are really being impacted by the transportation,” said Adams. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get a message that this bus is going to be 70 minutes late, these kids are going to have to stay 90 minutes after school because we don’t have the drivers.”

KBE member Jamie Bowling expressed her support for SEL and mental health.

“I feel strongly about providing district mental health providers to our students,” said Bowling. “I think that is really needed and taking care of your mental health is extremely important.”

The board approved compensation ranges, which will allow the commissioner to determine leadership salary compensation based on duties, skills, experience and education.

KDE also is including in its budget request a 1% salary increase for all KDE staff. There has been no annual increase since 2015 and none in 9 of the past 11 years.

“It is challenging to be a state employee and not even get a cost of living adjustment,” said Kinney.

These changes will support KDE in retaining and recruiting valuable staff to support Kentucky’s school districts.

Goals and Commissioner’s Evaluation
The board approved its goals for the 2021-2022 school year, as well as goals for Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass.

KBE’s 2021-2022 goals are to:

  • Champion the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education’s efforts to reimagine learning in Kentucky as it co-creates a vision with communities, fosters local innovation and advances policy recommendations aligned with this work.
  • Amplify its voice in support of minority students, their families and minority educators by not only listening to their concerns and aspirations, but also pledging to leverage those concerns and aspirations to guide our actions. Continue to support and promote KDE’s efforts to foster a culture of anti-racism and further equity within public schools.
  • In cooperation with the Education Professional Standards Board, advance policies and regulation reviews that strengthen the future teacher pipeline and increase the qualities and competencies of Kentucky’s educator workforce, emphasizing the critical need for increased representation of teachers of color.
  • Promote the creation and implementation of a statewide profile of a learner/graduate, identifying the knowledge, skills and dispositions all Kentucky learners need to become successful citizens. Use and strengthen key partnerships, including those with the Commonwealth Education Continuum and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, to inform this work.
  • Galvanize support of strong, developmentally appropriate early childhood education as a path to equity by taking steps toward fully funded full-day kindergarten and universal public preschool.

The KBE also approved the commissioner’s yearly evaluation. In his evaluation, Glass received praise from board members for his strong, effective advocacy and voice, bold vision and high expectations, and managing his transition into office with thoughtful and active listening.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by saying thank you to Dr. Glass for leading us through perhaps even arguably one of the most tumultuous times that educators across the world have experienced,” said KBE Chair Lu Young. “There have been so many times that I have just appreciated the stoic way that you have led us through this pandemic and through the crisis.”

The commissioner’s 2021-2022 goals are to:

  • Continue to build on positive working relationships and obtain feedback from education policymakers, KDE staff, educators and education policy/advocacy groups as measured by commissioner’s weekly email updates and results of the KDE stakeholder survey.
  • Continue to build on positive working relationships with members of the KBE through a series of conversations with the individual board members designed to gauge the effectiveness of board member communications strategies and needed changes.
  • Begin implementation of a new vision/direction for education in the Commonwealth based on the listening tours and engagement efforts from 2020-2021.
  • Work with legislators and the governor’s office to secure the passage of legislation aligned with the KBE/KDE legislative agenda as measured by proposed/passed bills and the commissioner’s weekly email update.
  • Implement KDE supports and resources aligned with the KBE’s resolution on anti-racism and equity, including the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching, the equity dashboard and the equity playbook.
  • Continue to develop and add to both the equity dashboard and the dashboard of pre-K-20 indicators using long-range goals established in 2020-2021 and including the establishment of baselines for new non-academic measures.

Assessment Results Release
KDE Associate Commissioner Rhonda Sims and Division Director Kevin Hill gave board members an overview of the release of the 2020-2021 School Report Card. The release was on Sept. 29 and included new data such as state assessment results, Opportunity to Learn survey results, and participation rates of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, which currently is at 27%.

Ex officio board member Allison Slone, a special education teacher at McBrayer Elementary School (Rowan County), said that while she initially dreaded the start of testing, it went much better than she expected.

“I can honestly say that I appreciate the hard work that you put into this because it was probably the most smoothly administered test year that I’ve ever experienced in 23 years of teaching,” said Slone.

All assessment result data, including data broken down by test subject and student demographic, can be viewed in the 2020-2021 Kentucky School Report Card.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved two outside employment requests;
  • Approved the strategic priority and criteria for the 2022 Kevin C. Brown Award;
  • Approved 2021-2022 evaluation procedures and communication procedures;
  • Heard reports from Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Kentucky Lt. Gov. and Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Jacqueline Coleman, who serves as an ex officio KBE member; and Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass;
  • Approved consent agenda items:
    • New district facility plans; and
    • 2021-2022 local district tax rates levied;
  • Presented the Kelley Award for Business and Education Partnership to Harper Smith;
  • Heard a presentation on Graduate Profiles as State-level Policy from University of Kentucky Center for Next Generation Leadership Co-Directors Karen Perry and Justin Bathon, and Associate Director Neomia Hagans-Flores;
  • Heard a state assistance update from KDE Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster;
  • Approved the Jessamine County school district’s request for site acquisition that exceeds 10% of the maximum budget;
  • Approved the Campbell County school district’s requests for site acquisition that exceeds 10% of the maximum budget and for waiver approval for easements traversing the site related to 702 KAR 4:050;
  • Approved the Madison County school district’s request for site acquisition that exceeds 10% of the maximum budget;
  • Approved the Fayette County school district’s request to waive 702 KAR 4:160 related to total allowable floor area for a new middle school;
  • Approved the Paducah Independent school district’s waiver request related to floor area in excess of allowable area;
  • Amended 702 KAR 7:065, Designation of Agent to Manage Middle and High School Interscholastic Athletics;
  • Heard a financial report from the Ashland Independent school district;
  • Heard a presentation on the importance of family engagement from KDE Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster and The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Director of Family Engagement Brooke Gill;
  • Heard an update on the commissioner’s strategic dashboard;
  • Heard an overview on ethics, the hearing officer’s report and a litigation report from KDE General Counsel Todd G. Allen; and
  • Approved a statement for consideration for 702 KAR 7:150, Home or Hospital Instruction.