FRANKFORT, Ky. – A bill to shift the power to hire school principals passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday.
Senate Bill 7 would shift that responsibility from councils made up of teachers and parents to the school superintendent.
The councils are known as school-based decision making councils, established under the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, and the only people who vote on members are parents and teachers within the district. Bill Sponsor state Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, said the bill will give the power to hire a principal to someone who is more accountable to voters.
“We all know that the principal is the biggest indicator of how a school is going to do,” Schickel said. “And yet, really, I think for a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the education system and how it works, it’s hard for them to even believe or even fathom, and many of them don’t even know, that we don’t allow these superintendents, and really the school board members… we don’t allow them to hire the people who will most affect the performance of that school district.”
Several education groups spoke out against the bill during the committee meeting. Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell said the power for school councils was a cornerstone of the KERA.
“The crafters of KERA believe that some decisions are best made by local constituents to assure that student’s needs are being met,” Campbell said.
Lucy Waterbury with Save Our Schools Kentucky said the councils are far most invested in the school districts than many superintendents.
“If I have a superintendent that hires a bunch of folks that seem to align with what they believe to be, what they want in their district, and then they look for the next salary, the next higher position, whether it’s in the state or not, I am left in my buildings, as a parent, dealing with the aftermath of their choices,” Waterbury said. “So if local stakeholders aren’t listened to, parents, teachers, that bear the brunt of poor leadership, how is that going to help public education in Kentucky?”
An amendment to the bill requires the superintendent to consult with the school council before hiring a principal. It also adds another parent to the school councils, making membership even between parents and teachers.
It passed 8-3 along party lines in committee and now moves to the Senate floor.