First Executive Order for Governor Beshear: Reorganize Kentucky Board of Education

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Education and teachers was at the heart of Governor Andy Beshear’s campaign and he wasted no time making changes.  Tuesday morning, prior to all the pomp and circumstance of Inauguration Day, Beshear reorganized the Kentucky Board of Education and appointed new members.

In his inauguration speech, he said, “These members were not chosen based on any partisan affiliation, but based on their commitment to make our schools better. To put our children first.”  

For the first time ever, the  Lt. Governor will serve as Education Cabinet secretary.  Jacqueline Coleman is the first teacher to serve as Lt. Governor since Martha Layne Collins.

In the order, Beshear ordered Executive Order 2019-500 ruled null and void. That order signed by former governor Matt Bevin, laid out various stipulations for those serviing on the board, such as having a child in public school and five years of experience in the education field. 

Beshear’s new order says the Board of Education will be made up of eleven voting members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the senate. The new appointees are:

  • Holly Bloodworth, Murray, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 1
  • Patrice McCray, Bowling Green, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 2
  • Mike Bowling, Middlesboro, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 3
  • Sharon Porter Robinson, Louisville, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 4
  • Lu Young, Nicholasville, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 5
  • JoAnn Adams, Pleasureville, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 6
  • Cody Pauley Johnson, Pikeville, Kentucky – representing Supreme Court District 7
  • Lee Todd, Lexington, Kentucky –  representing the state at large
  • David Karem, Louisville, Kentucky – representing the state at large
  • Claire Batt, Lexington, Kentucky – representing the state at large
  • Alvis Johnson, Harrodsburg, Kentucky – representing the state at large

The eleven members will begin work immediately.  Approval of the Senate will be obtained when the next General Assembly convenes.  The order names David Karem as the Board’s chairperson until the board can elect a chairperson.

The seven board members who represent Supreme Court districts will serve a four year term  expiring April 14, 2024. The at-large members will serve a two-year term expiring April 14, 2022. Afterwards all members will serve four-year terms.

In addition to the board members, the Board of Education will also be made up of three non-voting members.

  • President of the Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
  • An active elementary or secondary school teacher appointed by the Governor

Beshear appointed Allison Slone a teacher at McBrayer Elementary School in Morehead, Kentucky to serve on the Board. 

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis remains in his position for now.  Governor Beshear  cannot fire Lewis, but the Board of Education can.

Shortly after the announcement of the reorganization, the current Kentucky Board of Education members announced they would be filing a motion to challenge the order.

“We strongly feel that this action by the governor is of questionable legality and must be tested in the courts,” said KBE member Dr. Gary Houchens. “Unlike other Kentucky government boards, the make-up of the KBE is governed by the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which provides a clear process for a new governor to appoint new members to the KBE on a staggered basis, every two years.  Board members today are seeking to set aside the governor’s order and allow an orderly transition of board control over a two year period, as intended by KERA.”

The following members of the board were appointed by Bevin in 2016 and 2018.

  • Hal Heiner
  • Milton Seymore
  • Gary Houchens
  • Ben Cundiff
  • Laura Timberlake
  • Tracey Cusick
  • Rich Gimmel
  • Kathy Gornik
  • Alesa Johnson
  • Joe Papalia

The order is effective immediately.

Full statement from current Kentucky Board of Education