Graphic of a picture of Robin Kinney reading: Kentucky Board of Education names interim commissioner effective Sept. 30, 2023, Robin Kinney.

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) named Robin Fields Kinney as interim state commissioner of education during a special meeting on Sept. 14.

Kinney, an associate commissioner who oversees the Office of Finance and Operations for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), will assume her new role Sept. 30 – one day after current Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass departs the agency.

Kinney’s annual salary was set at the equivalent of $260,000. She will not be eligible for the position of permanent commissioner of education.

“The board is confident in Robin’s dedication to public education and her experience in KDE,” said KBE Chair Sharon Porter Robinson. “She will serve our state well during her tenure as interim commissioner. We appreciate her willingness to take on this important role, and we look forward to her leadership as we continue our mission to provide the best education for Kentucky’s students.”

Kinney first joined KDE from 2003 to 2008, and then rejoined in 2015. She previously served as interim commissioner for a short period in December of 2019 following the departure of former Commissioner Wayne Lewis. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky (UK) and a juris doctorate from UK’s College of Law. She is a licensed attorney in Kentucky and Florida.

“I’m honored to serve in this capacity until the board is able to select a new permanent commissioner,” she said. “My goal will be to make sure the initiatives of the board and the agency continue on through this transitional period. I look forward to working alongside Team KDE as we continue to support our schools and districts.”

Kinney said the best part of her job is “getting to work with really smart and dedicated people – both at KDE and in our districts.”

In her current role, she oversees four divisions that deal with budget and financial management, resource management, district support services and school and community nutrition.

Kinney and her husband, Scott, reside in Frankfort. Their daughter, Megan, is a kindergarten teacher in Shelby County Schools.

Glass announced on July 31 that he would be stepping down as commissioner on Sept. 29.

On Aug. 21, the KBE authorized KDE to issue a solicitation for a national search firm that could begin a search for a new commissioner. The request for proposals may be found on Kentucky’s Vendor Self Service website. The RFP will close on Sept. 25.

Once a vendor is selected and the contract executed, the processing of a contract can take up to 30 days. Robinson said the goal is for the search firm to commence work no later than Dec. 1.  

Over the next three months, KBE members will be engaging with various stakeholder groups, including all of KDE’s advisory councils, to ask about the traits they hope to see in the state’s next education commissioner, as well as what they believe are top priorities.

So far, the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council and the agency’s Family Partnership Council have participated in the discussion. In addition, Robinson gathered feedback from school superintendents during a Sept. 12 webcast hosted by KDE.

Updated regulations on interscholastic athletics

The KBE approved amendments to 702 KAR 7:065, the regulations dealing with the designation of an agent to manage middle and high school interscholastic athletics.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) and its advisory groups have proposed adding three major changes. One of the changes addresses a school’s required emergency action plans, adding a checklist for schools to have when preparing for a sporting event. The change was designed to help with the implementation of new regulations passed in House Bill 331 (2023).

Another change updates regulations on how schools deal with heat-related injuries or illnesses, using the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature as the standard measure for measuring the heat index.

The third change addresses how schools monitor air quality in light of recent fires in Canada and the movement of smoke into the United States. KHSAA recommends utilizing air quality guidelines found in the Air Quality Index and reviewed by the NFHS Sports Medicine Committee.

Representatives with the KHSAA said the updates were designed to advance and protect student safety.

Other items: