Kentucky Board of Education meeting photo Aug. 3, 2023

The Kentucky Board of Education met on Aug. 2-3 at Dale Hollow State Park in Burkesville. (Photo by Marvin Young)

(BURKESVILLE, KY) – The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) approved a final list of priorities for additional budget requests during its annual retreat and regular meeting at Dale Hollow Lake State Park on Aug. 2-3.

The board typically drafts a list of additional budget requests every two years ahead of the legislative budget-making sessions. These are items that require funding beyond what KBE typically receives in its budget.

“Our job now is to educate, inform and advocate for these dollars,” said Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney.

The additional budget requests will be submitted to the governor’s office by Oct. 1, a process that was sped up by House Bill 360 (2023), which changed the previous deadline of Nov. 15 among several other tweaks to the legislative budget-making process.

The governor will then consider the requests for inclusion in his executive branch budget that he submits to legislators as they work on a biennium budget next year.

KBE conducted a survey of its members and ranked the top priorities, which are listed in order of priority:

  1. SEEK base funding increase
  2. Universal preschool
  3. Educator Workforce Recruitment and Retention
  4. SEEK transportation
  5. Kentucky Educational Recovery Fund
  6. Kentucky Educational Technology Systems funding
  7. Read to Succeed additional funding

Portrait of a Learner

The KBE heard updates on the development and implementation of statewide and local Portraits of a Learner.

A Portrait of a Learner, sometimes known as Portrait of a Graduate, is an agreed-upon set of aspirations for what every learner should know and be able to do when they graduate.

KDE Division of Innovation Program Manager Sarah Snipes said the department, along with the Kentucky United We Learn Council, has been working to gather information from schools and collaborate on a Portrait of a Learner.

“We truly see districts as partners and they have an incredible wealth of knowledge in their own experiences implementing a portrait,” she said.

Snipes shared the current data highlighting where Kentucky school districts are at with implementing their own locally developed Portrait of a Learner or the statewide portrait:

  • 42 districts have finalized a set of competencies;
  • 37 districts are developing a set of competencies;
  • 21 districts are considering development of a set of competencies;
  • 8 districts are not considering development; and
  • 63 districts have not indicated where they are at with a Portrait of a Learner.

“We are learning that communities are at various stages of implementation and development, but numbers do seem to be growing, especially with the support of our deeper learning teams across the (educational) co-ops,” said Snipes. “We’re seeing very positive perceptions at the district level as they work with us on this.”

Snipes said the next steps are to continue soliciting survey responses about Portrait of a Learner as districts move along the implementation continuum, continue tracking examples of work at the district level and communicate progress across districts to encourage collaboration.

The board also participated in an activity on Aug. 2 where they considered guiding questions to the Portrait of a Learner, including any potential challenges, and discussed what supports schools and families will need if changes to graduation requirements are considered.

Picture of two female Kentucky Board of Education members during the Aug. 2 meeting.

Kentucky Board of Education members Patrice McCrary (left) and Diana Woods (right) work on a Portrait of a Learner activity during the Aug. 2 meeting. (Photo by Toni Konz Tatman, Kentucky Department of Education)

Change in KBE and KDE Leadership

The board approved changes to the KBE chair and vice-chair positions on Aug. 2. Sharon Porter Robinson will now serve as chair and Lu S. Young will serve as vice-chair, flipping their leadership roles.

“It’s going to be a pleasure continuing our work together,” said Robinson.

Both Robinson and Young have been on the KBE since Gov. Andy Beshear appointed them in December 2019. Young has served as chair since April 2020 and the term limits for chair and vice-chair are three years.

“We want to bring as much stability to the board and the department and continue making forward motion and progress rather than sitting back and waiting,” said Young.

Board members praised both women for their leadership and said they look forward to continuing work with them.

“Their continuity and leadership are necessary moving forward,” said KBE member Holly Bloodworth.

It was also the first board meeting for new members Julie Pile and Diana Woods, as well as for the board’s two new nonvoting teacher and student members – Christian County educator Alissa Riley and Whitley County junior R.J. Osborne.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass gave his final commissioner’s report at the KBE meeting and said he was proud of the work both he and the members have done, calling it a “golden era” for the board.

Glass announced July 31 he will step down from his position on Sept. 29 in order to become associate vice president of teaching and learning at Western Michigan University.

“It was a lifelong dream of mine to have this professional honor in my home state,” said Glass. “I will always treasure that experience. I have loved getting to know and work with the members of this board.”

KBE will hold a special virtual meeting Aug. 21 to discuss next steps on the search for a new commissioner.

Video from both days of the retreat can be found on the KDE Media Portal archive.

In other business, the board:

Received an update on the Kentucky United We Learn Council and the state’s progress with the Competitive Grants for State Assessments (CGSA) program.