FRANKFORT, Ky. — Legislation to overhaul the Kentucky Board of Education advanced out of the state Senate Education Committee today.
The measure, known as Senate Bill 10, would undo a recent executive order that reorganized that board. It would also prohibit future governors from reconstituting the board through executive orders.
Senate President Robert Stivers II, R-Manchester, said SB 10 wasn’t about politics.
“It is best the policy and institutional integrity stay consistent,” said Stivers, who introduced the bill. “That is what this legislature has done for the 20-plus years I have been here and … since the advent of KERA.”
KERA is the acronym for the Kentucky Education Reform Act passed in 1990, which sought to insulate the state’s education system from partisan politics.
Another provision of SB 10 would require board appointments to reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the state’s political affiliation and minority racial composition. The current law prohibits a governor from considering the party affiliation of appointees.
Board members would still have to be at least 30 years old, have at least an associate’s degree and lived at least three years in Kentucky. Also, certain ethics requirements would still have to be met to avoid any conflicts of interests.
Democratic Caucus Chair Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, said he couldn’t support SB 10.
“I believe the guidelines and qualifications of board members are set so that the governor can choose the very best,” he said. “I think that is highlighted by some of his appointments.” Turner then lists the qualifications of many of the current board members.
Stivers emphasized that if SB 10 becomes law, current board members could still be considered for the new board. The new board’s composition, however, would have to meet the new gender, racial and political equity requirements.
The board’s primary mission would remain the same. That is to develop and adopt the regulations that govern Kentucky’s 172 public school districts and the actions of the Kentucky Department of Education. Board members also serve as the board for the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville and Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville.
SB 10 now goes to the full Senate for its consideration.