Friday, January 21, 2022 12:00 AM

SB 1 Urgent Call to Action

Senate Bill 1, a bill to drastically amend the SBDM law, was passed by the Senate on Saturday, January 8, 2022. This bill makes the school council simply an advisory group.

SB 1 takes principal selection away from the council and gives the Superintendent the full authority to choose the principal with only consultation by the council. The council members must sign a nondisclosure agreement to keep all principal selection discussions confidential or face lifetime sanctions.  

The bill gives Superintendents the final say in selecting the curriculum, textbooks, instructional materials, and student support services for all schools in the district. Once again, the school council only serves in an advisory capacity.  

In addition, SBDM policy would have to be consistent with school board policy. This greatly diminishes parent, teacher, administrator, and student engagement in school decision-making and puts restraints on the kind of innovation that helps schools meet their students’ needs.

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED on SB 1

1) Call the Message Line and say you would like to leave a message for every member of the Senate and House.
The Message Line can be reached at (800) 372-7181 between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday EST and between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Friday.  Some easy options for a message include:

  • SB 1 will hurt schools and students. Say “no” to SB 1
  • I’m against SB 1 because one size does not fit all.
  • I’m against SB 1. The current SBDM council process gives everyone a voice.
  • Stop SB 1. There is no evidence to support giving more authority to the school district. Over the past 30 years, with SBDM councils, our student achievement has greatly improved.
  • I oppose SB 1, because I support meaningful decision-making at the school level.
  • SBDM councils and your constituents who serve on them deserve respect. They are part of the solution, not the problem. Stop SB 1.

2) You might also contact Senate and House members through email and Twitter.
A couple options for messages include:

  • SBDM councils provide voice to people interacting with students daily: their parents, teachers, and principal. Let’s keep it that way. #SBDM4kids
  • Decision making at the school level should be made by the people who know their students: parents, teachers, and principal. #SBDM4kids

Read the following for in depth analysis of SB 1:

For thirty years, Kentucky parents and educators have refined the SBDM process to create a system that works. Because of SBDM, parents and teachers have had a greater voice in their individual schools and decreased the politics that historically interfered with a successful school system. 

With SB 1, the SBDM process will no longer exist and will be replaced with a parent/teacher advisory group.

If SB 1 passes, then superintendents, principals, and teachers will have increased uncertainty regarding their respective roles. This confusion will result in educator time spent completing bureaucratic tasks and away from direct instruction.  

Principal selection -  Kentucky principal’s are currently selected by a school council with the superintendent (or proxy) having an equal vote. SB 1 removes the stakeholders from principal selection and gives sole authority to the superintendent to select the principal with "consultation" by the school councils. Or course, consultation is undefined but will ultimately be subject to policies of the local school board and SBDM. What we do know is that the consultation meeting will be "super secret" and will penalize any SBDM member who discusses any of the conversations held in the consultation meeting. SBDM members must sign a ‘nondisclosure’ agreement where they will receive a lifetime sanction if they disclose any part of the principal selection discussions. SBDM members don’t have a vote on the principal, just the ability to sit in on a closed session and listen.

Prior to consultation with the school council, each member shall sign a nondisclosure agreement forbidding the disclosure of information shared and discussions held during consultation. page 5 lines 21-23 of SB1 

It’s difficult to imagine parents and educators agreeing that this is the best solution for principal selection. It's been our experience that school and district administrators appreciate the input from stakeholders and the school support that comes with the principal selection process. 

Superintendent selects curriculum, textbooks, instructional material, and student support services.

The local superintendent shall determine which curriculum,textbooks, instructional materials, and student support services shall be provided in the school after consulting with the school principal and the school council and after a reasonable review and response period for stakeholders in accordance with local board of education policy. page 4 of SB 1

This section should be called the Red Tape Law and will greatly increase the already burgeoning paperwork we require of our educators. Thirty years after school reform, schools do not have major issues regarding curriculum, textbooks, instructional practices. Schools teach the curriculum aligned to the state standards and educators select the textbooks and instructional materials.  

SBDM policies must be consistent with local school board policies -

The school council shall adopt a policy that shall be consistent with local  board policy  page 8-9 of SB 31

Currently, the SBDM creates policy in curriculum, instructional practices, discipline, staff assignment, student assignment to classes, extracurricular activities.  KRS 160.345(2)(i). 

Where is the innovation that school based decision making allows? 

At the end of the day, SB 1 does nothing to address improving student achievement or giving stakeholders an authentic voice in school decision making. Rather, welcome back to politics in our schools.