Kentucky PTA wary of Senate bill that would limit the power of site-based school councils

Superintendents would get more control

A Kentucky bill that would return hiring power back to public school superintendents and limit the power of site-based school councils is being looked at with caution by the state PTA organization.

Senate Bill 54, introduced by Sen. John Schickel of Union, is, in the last days of the legislative session, sitting in the Education Committee. Its future, at least this year, is unknown.

Although the PTA parent organization would like to see it disappear, it's a bill that school boards and superintendents support and something they think makes sense. Besides changing hiring practices, it would require the superintendent or designee to determine such things as policies, instructional materials, support services and to plan professional development.

School-based decision-making was originally approved in the 1990 legislative session. That law, which has been amended over the years, ultimately created a council at each school composed of two parents, the principal and three teachers who approve teacher and principal hires and academic plans, among other functions.

For Cherie Dimar, Kentucky PTA president, eliminating the council's ability to participate takes away buy-in from parents, which she says helps make schools more successful.

"It is important that the council members are involved in this selection process, because they are familiar with the needs of their school and which candidate would be most successful," Dimar said.

Boone County School Board President Ed Massey says, however, that the councils would still participate, but the superintendents would make the final decisions.

"We favor it because the community elects the board of education," Massey said. On the other hand, he said, the site-based council is elected at the school, sometimes by a small group of people attending a meeting.

Ultimately, the superintendent is being held responsible for hires, and that person should make the final call, Massey said.

Massey said councils would "still function like they've always functioned. If there's a dispute, it will be appealed to the Board of Education." He added that the council would still advise on hires and academics.

Massey praised Schickel for approaching the Boone County School Board and asking for their thoughts before he introduced the bill.

"(Schickel) came to us first," said Massey. "He said, 'This is what I'm thinking. What is your position?' "

The state PTA organization sent a notice to PTA members in February asking for their support to oppose the bill.

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