Conference committee hits impasse on how to help low-performing schools

03/24/2015 02:03 PM

FRANKFORT — A conference committee looking at ways to help consistently low-performing schools in the commonwealth hit an impasse Tuesday on the best way to help those schools turn outcomes around.

House Bill 448, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, requires schools classified as low-achieving, or in the bottom 5 percent for four consecutive years, to implement an internal innovation option involving a collaboration between the superintendent, the school site-based decision-making council and the school board in hiring a new principal.

Senate Bill 132, sponsored by Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum, R-Louisville, would target schools in the bottom 25 percent in the state that fail to meet the achievement targets of the state accountability system and would give superintendents final power in hiring principals.

“All we’re doing to move the bar to 25 percent,” Seum said of the proposal. “Granted it does limit the site-based councils involvement, but in my mind, it’s not a popularity contest.”

Rep. Linda Belcher, a Shepherdsville Democrat who served as a principal for 15 years, said it’s important that a new principal has “buy-in” from the entire school community.

“With school-based decision-making councils, the one thing that was so powerful about that was the input from everybody — what the parents thought, what the teachers thought and what the administration thought,” Belcher said. “If you just go in and say, ‘This is a new person coming, you may not have the buy-in from those people that you need buy-in from.’”

Graham says the biggest sticking point was the superintendent having final say in hiring principals.

“We believe if the superintendent is in charge, that leaves all of the power to the superintendent and sometimes we know that is not always the best charge because of personality conflicts,” Graham said.

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said legislators plan to meet in the interim to try to reach a resolution that would have the possibility of passing in 2016.

“We will plan a meeting so that we can have all stakeholders can come to the table, that we can talk about these issues and have all of our members informed in regards to what needs to happen,” Wilson said.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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