Kentucky State Capitol

Kentucky State Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The newly reorganized Kentucky Board of Education passed its revised legislative agenda Friday, adding support for a measure that would only require charter school authorizer training for school boards when potential operators apply to open charter schools in their districts.

The board’s agenda, prefaced with a statement reminding the state of its obligations to adequately fund K-12 education in Kentucky, replaces the previous legislative priorities adopted by the prior state education board on Dec. 4.

“Obviously, it’s a brand new board, and the legislature’s just now started, and so we don’t expect you to just pick up that legislative agenda and add your stamp on it,” said Kevin Brown, interim education commissioner.

Much of the agenda passed Friday included pieces from legislative priorities identified by the previous board, replaced entirely by Gov. Andy Beshear on Dec. 10.

Both boards supported funding for full-day kindergarten, ratifying former Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order that moved the Education Professional Standards Board to the Kentucky Department of Education, expediting the approval process for school districts’ facilities upgrades under requirements of the School Safety and Resiliency Act, and boosting funding for career and technical education offerings.

The addition of the charter school training provision comes after previous requests from a number of rural school districts for similar charter training waivers were rejected by the previous board on Dec. 4.

Rep. Regina Huff, a Williamsburg Republican and chairwoman of the House Education Committee, has filed House Bill 220 to provide districts such relief from charter school authorizer training.

The previous board’s priorities did not include any mention of school choice. The state board had included some support for charter schools since 2017.

Former Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who negotiated his resignation with the current board on Dec. 12, said at the time that the board wanted to pursue a legislative agenda “that has some chance of passing and moving the needle forward.”

Beshear, he said, did not seem inclined to support charter schools, and Lewis noted that even with Republicans controlling both chambers of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, a permanent funding mechanism for charter schools had not passed since charters were legalized in 2017.

Tracy Goff Herman, interim director of government relations for KDE, said she had not heard any discussions of funding charter schools in the current legislative session.

Previous legislative priorities of requiring that students demonstrate reading competency by the third grade and providing districts greater flexibility in instruction and staffing were also omitted from the current board’s agenda.

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