At this time the Public Pensions Working Group is still meeting every Tuesday and Thursday during the legislative recess, and has held three meetings. No bills or proposed legislation, not even a plan, has come forth from any legislator working on this panel at this time. Beau Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary and General Counsel at TRS, has been testifying for two days, and will conclude tomorrow, Thursday, January 24. Mr. Barnes has been providing a very detailed history on the investments, budgets, actuarial analyses, and statutes that affect teachers and TRS. After Mr. Barnes concludes his testimony tomorrow, several of the "K" groups will be testifying, such as KEA, KASA, and KSBA.
At each of these meetings, your KAPE legislative team has been present. These meetings are also archived on the LRC webpage by KET (lrc.ky.gov). There is nothing that has been spoken by the legislators promising any reform or changes at this time. This working group is more of a fact-finding group which is asking very detailed and in-depth questions about the health of TRS and the massive unfunded liability. Some comparisons have been made by Mr. Barnes on what past bills would or would not have done to TRS, as well as his opinions on the results if these bills had passed.
On Monday, January 28, the Public Pensions Oversight Board is meeting at 1:00. This committee is different from the Public Pensions Working Group, although some of the legislators are on both committees. On Tuesday, January 29, the Senate Education Committee is meeting at 3:00 PM. At each of these meetings, your KAPE legislative team will be present. You will be updated if any legislation is brought forth, as well as letting you know any directions the General Assembly is taking.
The full General Assembly re-convenes on Tuesday, February 5, when all committees will be in full swing until the end of this session.
The Kentucky State Board of Education has announced that Dr. Wayne Lewis was unanimously chosen to become the next Commissioner of the Department of Education.
*Note- Dr. Lewis’s child attends public school and his wife works in a public school system. Please don’t believe all the naysayers who are spreading rumors that he’s going to wipe out public schools with magic fairy dust. Seek the Truth!KAPE's legislative team of Executive Director Donna House and Gregory Chaney were in Frankfort today for the arguments at the State Supreme Court on SB 151. Attorney Steve Pitt argued for Governor Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear was opposing counsel. Mr. Pitt argued that the manner in which SB 151 passed the legislature was a common practice that had been approved in the rules of both chambers of the legislature for over 100 years. In addition, he warned the Court regarding overstepping the separation of powers in attempts to control the legislature, which are direct representatives of the people. Furthermore, Mr. Pitt presented numerous bills that had been passed in the exact same manner which would result in chaos in the judicial system if all statutes were overturned as a result of the Supreme Court ruling against SB 151. He explained the far-reaching ramifications of such a ruling. Beshear argued that although SB 1 had an accompanying actuarial analysis, it did not immediately suffice for SB 151. He also argued about the entire process in which the bill was passed, and asking the Court to rule on the constitutionality of that process.
It will be several weeks or even months before the Supreme Court makes a decision, and they could even ask for re-arguments at a later date. As soon as any inkling of a decision is made, KAPE will inform members of that information.
Please research the history of the pension systems and various legislation that has affected the Boards of Trustees. Remember, there are numerous entities responsible for where we are today in the crisis of our state pension systems.
In tonight's address, Dr. Lewis stated that while standardized tests are not the end all, be all, they are indicators of student progress and a measure of what needs to be done. Data presented to the audience show that Kindergarten readiness has become flat in growth for the past three years. However, for those students who participate in public preschool programs, the data proves that those students make significant strides in achievement. He issued a call to action to address the challenges to get students in public preschool programs. The two main challenges are: transportation and knowledge of the programs to the public.
In K-PREP data, the goals issued for 3rd grade reading is to increase from 55.8 to 57.5, math is to increase from 50.9 to 52.8. The goals for 8th grade reading is to increase from 57.1 to 58.8, math from 48.7 to 50.7.
The data from high school graduation is bleak. Only 66.9% of students graduated from high school, and of those graduating, only 65.6% were college or career ready. Nationally, 73.5% is the goal. That means close to 35% of graduating students in Kentucky are not prepared for either college or to begin work, and are set up for failure. He proposes to focus more efforts on post secondary opportunities, such as dual credit, articulated credit, AP, IB, and Cambridge credits.
In the second part of his address, Dr. Lewis discussed NAEP scores for Kentucky, which are also disturbing. In Kentucky, 45% of students scored below basic levels compared to the rest of the nation. There are projected to be 408,807 open jobs in Kentucky in the next three years, and students are not being prepared adequately to fill those jobs. The high demand career sectors are: Advanced Manufacturing, Business and Information Technology, Construction Trades, Healthcare Support, and Transportation and Logistics.
Dr. Lewis directed educators to match students with their interests, passions, and the realities of our economy. He urges that changes be made to the focus of all schools, with students to become the focus of everything schools do. He stressed that recent events have focused on adults, rather than the students, and the students must be the focus. As he stated, "Adults are not the end-users of our public education system. Students are the end-users." In addition, Dr. Lewis urged educators to encourage and empower parents in a much more meaningful way, and to have them play a meaningful role in the education of their children.
In conclusion, Dr. Lewis presented examples of students who have had their lives changed through education. His final statement to educators was to not just increase test scores, but to change and save the lives of children.
The invitation was extended to teachers to contact the Department of Education with stories of students who have had their lives changed by education in Kentucky at: WhatwillyoubeKy@education.ky.govOn August 20, 2018, the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) issued a waiver of its regulation requiring teachers to obtain a master's degree within the first ten years of certification in Kentucky. This means new teachers or teachers who are still in the process of obtaining a master's degree will still be able to renew their teaching certificates at the ten year mark without finishing the course work. Teachers may still obtain Rank II by obtaining their master's degree, as that is a statutory requirement, but from the information provided to the EPSB during its meeting, it also seems that the EPSB may pursue some other methods in the future for educators to obtain Rank II. In Kentucky, a teacher's rank is one of the factors used to determine annual salary.
On September 20, the KY State Supreme Court will begin the hearing on the pension bill at 10:00 am. This hearing should also be televised by KET. KAPE plans to be present at the court to observe so that we can provide the latest accurate information to you. The hearing will be regarding the constitutionality of how SB 151 was passed. Other issues, such as the inviolable contract, have already been determined by the lower court.
On Friday, August 10, 2018, the KY Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the above cited case which overruled an Opinion of the Attorney General (OAG 77-157) which restricted an administrator's right to a demotion hearing pursuant to KRS 161.765 (2) for administrators who have three years or less experience as an administrator in the school district issuing the demotion.
KRS 161.765 (2) states, " An administrator who has completed three years of administrative service, not including leave granted under KRS 161.770, cannot be demoted unless he or she is given notice of the demotion. The administrator then has ten days within receipt of the notice to file a written statement of his or her intent to contest the demotion. If the statement of intent is timely filed, the administrator is then entitled to a hearing before the local Board of Education. OAG 77-157 opined that the KY General Assembly meant that the three years of administrative service had to be in the same school district. The Court of Appeals in this case disregarded OAG 77-157 because the plain language of KRS 151.765 does not include any language requiring the administrative service to be served in any particular school district.
Please note that this opinion was just issued and is not yet final. The Jefferson County BOE may appeal the court's opinion to the KY State Supreme Court, but in the meantime, if you are a school administrator with more than three years of administrative service, and have been given a notice of demotion, even if your three years are not in the same district, remember to respond with a written notice of intent to appeal to preserve your right to a hearing WITHIN TEN DAYS. The definition of an administrator includes any certified employee who is employed as a PRINCIPAL, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, SUPERVISOR, COORDINATOR, DIRECTOR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT, FINANCE OFFICER, PUPIL PERSONNEL WORKER, GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST, OR SCHOOL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR, and includes ANY ASSISTANT, ASSOCIATE, OR DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENTS. [KRS 161.720 (8)]