2017 Legislative Priorities
Focus on reduction of opportunity gaps – KASS favors the removal of restrictions that deter learning, therefore supporting legislation which would allow public schools more flexibility in meeting individual student needs with innovative educational strategies and choices. Such strategies or choices could include the implementation of public non-profit charter schools chartered by locally elected school boards to meet specific targeted needs of students who have been unsuccessful in traditional public school settings including the establishment of early childhood education opportunities. These schools should be staffed by teachers with appropriate certification and have at least the same accountability structures and systems as traditional public schools. Funding for these schools should be derived from the local district implementing such an option or be appropriated in addition to the current state SEEK allocation to avoid any negative financial impact on other existing public schools / districts. Oversight beyond local school districts and additional state level guidance and direction should be provided by the Kentucky Board of Education.
Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System – The single largest strain on Kentucky’s budget is its accumulated unmet obligation to TRS. A sound pension system helps Kentucky recruit and retain quality teachers. Quality teachers and staff are the primary evidence based factor to improve student achievement. Kentucky teachers are, in almost all cases, prohibited from participating in Social Security so TRS benefits are their only economic safety net in retirement. Failure to provide adequate pensions to retired teachers will increase the rate of poverty among one of Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations, elderly women.
Role of School Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils – In order to provide authority alignment with the responsibility to advance student achievement in Kentucky Public Schools, the role of SBDM Councils should become advisory within the governance model for public education. Such a change would allow the district and school leaders most accountable for student learning the ability to make school management decisions as evidenced by research as most impactful in improving student achievement.
Educator Due Process including Tribunal/Tenure Language Reform – In the pursuit of every student being college and career ready which demands the very highest quality teachers in every classroom, KASS urges the General Assembly to make changes to the tribunal system that while granting due process, also becomes a fair and efficient process to effectively to separate teacher behavioral issues from performance issues.
Exemption from Prevailing Wage – To help our communities more efficiently utilize limited facility funding to meet the growing unmet building needs at substantially less cost to local taxpayers, KASS urges the General Assembly to grant an exemption from the prevailing wage law on school construction.