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Non-Partisan School Boards and Hot Button Issues Matter: A Summary of Senate Bill 1

October 1, 2022

By Volunteer Report

Do you know who your local school board candidates are? Do you know what their priorities are in the education of your community’s children? Perhaps you have never really paid attention to local school board races, maybe never being personally acquainted with anyone who was running, you never had the time or inclination to investigate those willing to serve on your local school board.

That was the political paradigm of the past – when we felt comfortable to trust that education, as far as anyone knew, was all about the A, B, C’s, math, history, and science. While we were all busy living our ‘best lives’, there has been an agenda being run in the background, the narrative of which has now become too loud for most of us to comfortably ignore.

Like it or not, YOU are a stakeholder in public education

You may have heard about Senate Bill 1 (SB1), a piece of legislation introduced and passed in the 2022 regular session of the Kentucky legislature. This effects changes to KRS 160.345 and KRS 158.6453. The primary sponsor of SB1, John Schickel, state senator from Union, KY, is quoted in a Northern Kentucky publication as saying he has sponsored this legislation, “in hopes of increasing the voice of more stakeholders in education.” Upon being asked who these stakeholders are, Senator Schickel elaborated they are the parents, grandparents and every taxpayer of each community. If you are reading this, you are a stakeholder. Whether you have a child in school currently, or not, you are a stakeholder, and this affects you.

One of the initial stated purposes for the creation of Site-Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) was to allow for more input from parents and educators combined in the choice of curriculum for their school, in addition to deciding who to hire as the school’s principal.

While the bill’s wording allows for the SBDM Council to consult in both the choice of curriculum and the hiring process of the principal, the final decision for both is now made by the Superintendent.

With these two responsibilities being shifted from the SBDM Council, on its face, it may appear that this bill’s aim was to lessen the input of parents in the choice of curriculum as well as the hiring of the principal, since the bill takes these two responsibilities from the SBDM Council (which consists of two parents, three teachers and the school principal) and puts them singularly in the hands of the Superintendent. The two parent representatives who serve on the SBDM Council are voted in by the school parents, so they are representative of the parents at large, but historically once the council was chosen, the decisions were made without any further parental and

community input.

SB1 focused largely on removing the choice of curriculum and hiring choice of the school principal from the SBDM Council and assigned these instead to the Superintendent.

This may seem like a step backward, except for the fact that the Superintendent is hired and fired by the members of the School Board.

Research, Study, and Education Regarding Public Policy Matters

This is where each of us as voting members of our community has a role to play. The idea behind these changes is that community members have a voice when we elect school board members. The school board hires and fires the superintendent; thereby each voter has a say in the education of the children in their own community, if they choose to participate, by way of voting for the members of their local school board.

Hopefully, reading this will increase each citizen’s interest in researching the school boards. To make this easier, WTPKY (We The People Kentucky) has sent surveys to every school board candidate in Boone County, Walton-Verona Independent, Beechwood Independent, Campbell County, Ft. Thomas Independent, Bellevue Independent, and Owen County to promote transparency between the community and candidates for public office. Visit the WTPKY website to find out whether your school board candidates have filled out a survey outlining how they intend to represent your community. If your candidates have not filled out a survey, there is information for you to take action to find out why and request that they do. This should be an ongoing conversation among each community to ensure that our values and tax dollars are accurately represented.

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