Theeighth meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Friday, December 16, 2005, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jack Westwood, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Mr. Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents and Jefferson County Public Schools; Mr. Tim Hanner, Kenton County Board of Education; Mr. Timothy Crawford, Attorney, Corbin, Kentucky; Mr. Thomas Gibson and Mr. William Hammond, Lawrence County Kentucky Education Association; and Mr. Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Senator Kelly made a motion to approve the minutes from the October 11, 2005 meeting, and Senator Winters seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Senator Westwood introduced Mr. Tim Hanner, Assistant Superintendent, Kenton County Public Schools, to discuss 2006 BR 817, AN ACT relating to the primary program. Senator Westwood said the proposed bill amends KRS 158.030 and 158.031 to clarify that a child who is at least five years of age, but less than six years of age, may be advanced through the primary program if the student is determined to have acquired the academic and social skills taught in kindergarten as determined by the local board policy. It also provides that the student may be classified as other than a kindergarten student for the purposes of funding under KRS 157.310 and KRS 157.440.
Mr. Hanner said the situation originally arose in Kenton County when parents of children who turned five years of age between October and December requested a waiver to a board policy to have their children tested and admitted into kindergarten early. He said Boone County has an early entry program into kindergarten, and Kenton County modeled its program after Boone County. They charge tuition because there is no funding for these students. While establishing the criteria for the program, they realized that these students in the second year will be kindergarten age, but moving through the primary program. He said that even though these students would be ready to do second and third year work, the district would only receive half-day funding for those students. The board determined to assess students who had completed a kindergarten program, and if they were ready to move on through the primary program, to allow them to do so. He said that students who have completed a kindergarten program out-of-state, even though they may not be of primary school age, can begin a first grade class in Kentucky and the district receives full funding for them. He said at that time a waiver was requested from the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) to receive funding for students who were kindergarten age, but were developmentally ready for the first grade, and that waiver was denied. He said discussions developed to determine what language in the law needed to be changed in order to receive full funding for these students, and also to meet their needs educationally. He said the bill sponsored by Senator Westwood takes care of the appropriate changes needed for the law.
Mr. Hanner said the students who are kindergarten age, but were assessed and moved on into the primary program last year, are flourishing and doing extremely well.
Senator Westwood said the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has since introduced a regulation and the members have received a copy of it in their meeting folders. He asked Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, KDE, to speak to the subcommittee about the administrative regulation.
Commissioner Wilhoit said KDE believed it needed to adhere to the attorney general's opinion when ruling on the waiver request. He discussed the changes to the regulation that will come before the KBE for review. He said it adds some language to accommodate the proposed bill sponsored by Senator Westwood. The regulation assures that multiple forms of information would be considered, and that there were several district individuals involved in the discussion to determine if a student moves forward through the primary program.
Representative Draud clarified that each individual school district would develop its own criteria for determining early admission. Commissioner Wilhoit said yes, this would not be statewide criteria, and each board would determine its own. It would require that boards use multiple forms of information and diagnosis about the students wanting early admission, and that there be a team of individuals who make that determination.
Representative Draud asked how many students this early admission criteria would affect. Commissioner Wilhoit said it is a rare occurrence, but there are no specific numbers available.
Senator Westwood expressed a concern that by adding the language "in accordance with the process established by Kentucky Board of Education administrative regulation" to the bill, that it will enable the State Board of Education to overrule what local districts want to do. Commissioner Wilhoit said the only case in which that would happen would be if there were arbitrary decisions, but there should be no overruling of the state board of a decision that is made by local districts as long as they adhere to the principles.
Senator Westwood introduced Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA), and Ms. Jo Ann G. Ewalt, Research Division Manager, OEA, who gave a report on the study of the School Facilities Construction Commission (SFCC). Ms. Ewalt discussed Kentucky and neighboring states fiscal year 2000 state share and per pupil funding. Kentucky's share of facility funding was 63 percent higher than all but one state, and per pupil funding for facilities was also higher than all but one neighboring state.
Ms. Ewalt said SFCC serves districts through state and local funding programs. SFCC has offered assistance to 174 of 176 school districts since its inception in 1986. The other targeted programs, for which most districts do not qualify, have served a limited amount of districts.
Ms. Ewalt compared state and local funding for facility revenue from 1998 through fiscal year 2005. She said the state funding accounted for 61 percent of total funding in 1998, rose to 63 percent in 2001, and in fiscal year 2005, it was 56 percent. She noted that state funding has always been higher than local funding, and SFCC funding accounted for 22 percent of total funding.
Senator Kelly said the local funding has doubled, which was a goal that was accomplished. Ms. Ewalt agreed, and said she would talk about local contributions to facility funding later in the presentation.
Ms. Ewalt said the OEA was directed by the SFCC study proposal to examine unique characteristics of school districts that might warrant consideration within the SFCC funding formula. She said four factors were determined: districts with a relatively high proportion of poor facilities; growth districts; districts with limited ability to address their facility needs; and possible regional variations in construction costs.
Ms. Ewalt said Kentucky has made impressive progress in improving the condition of school buildings due largely to the urgent need trust fund for category five schools (poor condition buildings); the number of category five buildings has been reduced by 61 percent since 1999, and the number of category four buildings has dropped by 23 percent. She said 23 percent of Kentucky schools are ranked as excellent, and 28 percent are ranked as good.
Ms. Ewalt said category four schools were received in this study because they may become category five schools if neglected. She said 90 districts have at least one category four building, and 48 districts have only one category four building. She said over 75 percent of school districts have no category four schools, or just one.
Ms. Ewalt gave an overview of the growth districts. She said there are 26 growth districts, and 18 have levied the second growth nickel, and were eligible for equalization. It is estimated that there will be 30 growth districts in fiscal year 2006, and 21 that will be able to levy the second growth nickel. She said the growth nickel provisions are doing what they were intended to do in allowing the growth districts to address revenue issues and unmet needs.
Senator Kelly asked about rapid growth districts that are growing in population and not industry. He said it is difficult for these areas to provide the facilities, and if the issue is not addressed in the SFCC formula, then maybe it needs special focus such as the category five facilities.
Ms. Ewalt said superintendents reported that the five-year period means that the districts know they are growing, but until they reach that point, they are prohibited from levying the growth nickel. She said rapid growth is addressed further in the study recommendations.
Ms. Ewalt said districts with limited facility resources will be closely monitored to ensure they have the ability to meet their facility needs, but did not appear to warrant a recommendation to treat within the SFCC formula. She said these districts on average escrow more dollars than other districts.
Ms. Ewalt said the OEA looked at variations in construction costs by drawing a random sample of 49 districts and reviewing the new construction costs from the years 2000 through 2005. She said 33 elementary schools were located in 23 school districts, but not enough middle and high schools were included in the sample to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Ms. Ewalt said the nature of the random sample and the nature of which districts are building makes it difficult to provide regional cost variation. She discussed construction costs such as cost per square foot, cost per student capacity, and square foot per student capacity, but warned that these were not final construction costs because work was not completed.
Ms. Ewalt discussed the districts' cost per square foot and the KDE cost allowance. She said KDE uses a construction estimation from the RS Means, which is a national company that has a database of over 11,000 construction projects. She said KDE's cost allowance is much less than what the districts are facing, and there is considerable variation with how close or far away that districts are from the KDE cost allowance.
Senator Kelly said he does not understand the significance of the cost allowance, and wondered if participation is a pro rata share up to an approved amount and not anything above that price. Ms. Ewalt said SFCC offers are based on a project budget, and that project budget is based on KDE's cost allowance per square foot, which is based on the three-quarter means estimates. Senator Kelly asked if there was any restriction on a district spending above that amount for a school if that is what it costs to build the building. Ms. Ewalt said that most superintendents present the KDE allowance budget and the actual price of the project to the local boards of education.
Representative Moberly asked if the KDE cost allowance applied to the scope of the project, or if there is a limitation on what schools should cost by level. Ms. Ewalt said KDE provides recommended guidelines on the size of the school for a given capacity, and whether it is an elementary, middle, or high school. Districts can build larger buildings if they choose, but the budget is based on KDE's recommended size provisions.
Senator Westwood asked why it costs more per student for larger schools than for smaller schools. Ms. Ewalt said the data was separated by capacity, but nothing was analyzed relating to capacity outside the scope of the direction of the study. She cannot say why the cost variation on size occurred.
Ms. Ewalt said other factors impact the equity of facility fund distribution. They are: 1) facility plan updates; 2) project priorities and SFCC funding; 3) funding projects with SFCC and Facilities Support Program of Kentucky (FSPK); and 4) funding for schools in the poorest condition.
Ms. Ewalt discussed the on-line superintendent survey and was encouraged by the 143 superintendents who responded, which was an 81 percent response rate. She said superintendents feel they really need training in preparing the district facility plan, the master education facility plan, and to determine what are allowable expenditures for Fund 310 (capital outlay), and understanding what are allowable expenditures for Fund 320 (building fund).
Senator Westwood asked if the three to five percent surplus money schools are required to keep could be used for building capital projects. Ms. Sabrina Olds, analyst, OEA, said schools can use general fund dollars, but this has to be indicated on the BG-1 form. Representative Draud said they cannot use the surplus money. Ms. Olds said schools are required to have at least a two percent contingency fund.
Ms. Ewalt said 88 percent of the superintendents responded that their districts had needs beyond their current financial capacity, and they are listed on the facility plan. She also said 74 percent of superintendents said the SFCC should be the primary source of state funding for school facility construction, and 57 percent responded that they believed the SFCC funding formula should include specific characteristics or needs of school districts.
Ms. Ewalt said 40 percent of superintendents responded on the survey that school facility conditions prevented their district from offering instructional programs that would have otherwise been provided. She said 91 percent said districts should be allowed to pay for land out of facility funds if the land is clearly earmarked for new construction or additions.
Ms. Ewalt said the majority of superintendents, 58 percent, believed that KDE's cost per square foot allowance to calculate unmet need is too low, and 60 percent said that the SFCC should have eight years to escrow offers of assistance on behalf of school districts. She also discussed the percentages of districts that have maintenance plans for major building systems, and percentages of the plan that are totally, partially, or not at all funded. These percentage numbers are located in the Legislative Research Commission Library's meeting folder.
Ms. Ewalt discussed the superintendents' recommendations on SFCC. They want consistent and adequate funding, and an additional nickel without recall. They estimate that the additional nickel would generate $77.2 million in local revenue, and if equalized, it would cost an estimated $49.7 million.
Representative Draud noted that some school board members complained and did not like the additional growth nickel concept, and felt that the money should be provided to districts from the general fund. He said Kenton County used the additional nickel and improved school facilities with the revenue.
Ms. Ewalt discussed the study recommendations. They are: 1)
allow the SFCC to escrow district offers for up to eight years; 2) eliminate
the sunset provision of the first growth nickel and authorize the second growth
nickel in statute; 3) keep the current growth criteria in place, while adding
an option to address rapid growth needs; 4) the KDE should document that
enrollment exceeds available classroom space; 5) the KDE should develop,
implement and monitor maintenance best practice guidelines; 6) increase
flexibility in the use of capital outlay; 7) implement a waiver system for
documented exceptions to SFCC and FSPK fund requirements; 8) review and revise
the building condition one through five ranking system; 9) require the district
facility plans to be updated by districts every two years, with a waiver period
of two years; 10) simplify and clarify the facility planning process; 11) use
the most current RS Means data, with an inflation adjustment; 12) consider
using the RS Means regional cost indexes; 13) include a factor for costs not
included in the RS Means calculation; 14) include preschool enrollment in
minimum enrollments when calculating facility project allowances; 15) SFCC
should align budget requests with specific goals that address state unmet
facility need levels; 16) direct that school districts that construct buildings
with total costs in excess of 25 percent of KDE's maximum project budget will
have future unmet needs reduced; 17) clarify that SFCC may use the most current
data in setting its offers of assistance; 18) use actual repayment terms for
outstanding debt in calculating current bonding potential; 19) permit KBE to
certify districts' eligibility and unmet need statements by December 15; 20)
resolve conflict between statute and regulation on
SFCC bond refinancing; 21) KDE should have a written policy, including an application process, for distribution of federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) credits; 22) permit land costs to be paid for out of capital outlay, building fund and SFCC if it is clearly tied to a documented need for a new or expanded facility; and 23) KDE should offer specific training to district superintendents, finance officers, and facility managers.
Representative Draud said the building fund money is local money, and the capital outlay is state money, but why can't the local district make the decision on how to spend the money out of each of the funds as long as the need is related to facilities. Ms. Ewalt explained the waiver process in the study recommendations. Representative Draud said he did not feel a waiver process was needed, but the districts should be allowed to determine how to use their money for facilities. Ms. Ewalt said that districts need to be reducing their unmet need, and the facility plan process should identify critical facility needs. She said the requirements in place do a good job of enabling districts to address needs to reduce the unmet need.
In response to a question from Senator Westwood, Ms. Ewalt said the average age of a category five school building is 40 years, and 30 years for a category four school building. Senator Westwood said school district should focus on remodeling older buildings instead of replacing 30-year old buildings. Maintenance and design are important factors in the adequate up-keep of facilities.
Representative Draud said remodeling existing buildings is a more feasible option than building brand new facilities. He said the average life of a school building is about fifty years, but buildings can last much longer if maintained properly.
Ms. Ewalt said the KDE provides very specific guidelines in terms of renovation versus new construction for school facilities. If the cost of renovating a building is over 80 percent of the new construction cost, then they would approve the building of a new facility.
Representative Moberly said the category four schools should be maintained in order to keep them from becoming category five schools. He said school districts have an incentive to get the facilities to category fives, so they can get a new facility. He said a new system needs to be in place to give school districts an incentive to maintain facilities before they reach the category five level.
Senator Winters asked how many superintendents in the survey responded that their school facilities were leased buildings. Ms. Ewalt said there were about three schools that were leased, and this was not a widespread problem.
Senator Westwood asked Commissioner Wilhoit to offer a response to the study recommendations at the next meeting.
Senator Kelly said he did not like the recommendation for the KDE to hire more staff to do more study to teach the local school districts on how to take care of their buildings and obtain more efficiency. He said a better idea is for school districts to give training and best practices to other districts.
Senator Kelly said it was a good policy for buildings over 40 years old to be replaced because fire and the American Disabilities Act requirements would have made it too expensive to remodel these buildings. However, he believes it is time to change the policy because it has disincentives. He said the SFCC should do some study on if Kentucky is making the most efficient use of its funds on major remodelings versus replacement when districts can avoid land and demolition costs.
Representative Moberly thanked the OEA staff for the thorough study. He asked if the KDE and Mr. Bob Tarvin, Executive Director, SFCC, could give members a response to the study at the next meeting. Ms. Seiler said the OEA provided the KDE and Mr. Tarvin with all of the chapters in the study for review. They provided written responses for the members that were distributed in the meeting. Senator Westwood said he would like to hear verbal responses from both entities at the next meeting.
Ms. Seiler introduced Mr. Bryan Jones, Investigations, OEA, to give a report on the OEA's investigative process. Mr. Jones said there were two specific statutes that set out the authority and responsibility for the OEA to monitor and research education issues and conduct investigations. They are KRS 7.410 (2) (C) 4, and KRS 160.345 (9) (b). He said the first statute says that OEA should investigate allegations of wrongdoing of any person or agency, including but not limited to waste, duplication, mismanagement, political influence, and illegal activity at the state, regional, or school district level which have not been resolved or satisfactorily explained by the local superintendent, local board of education, the chief state school officer, or the KBE. The second statute addresses complaints specific to school-based decision making, and states that the OEA should investigate the problems, resolve them if possible, and if necessary, refer violators to the KBE for a possible 13B hearing for reprimand, suspension, or discipline.
Mr. Jones said investigations are driven by complaints received by OEA through various means, including mail, e-mail, and telephone calls to the 1-800 OEA hotline. While staff will confer with individuals regarding issues, any matter that a person wishes to be investigated is requested to be put in writing. Each complaint is requested to provide as much information about the alleged wrongdoing as possible, but the written complaint can be anonymous.
Mr. Jones said the OEA daily receives communications expressing concerns and complaints or seek information about local and state educational issues. Not all communications result in an investigation. Frequently, OEA is able to render assistance to the individual promptly via telephone or e-mail.
Mr. Jones said the determination of whether an allegation is worthy of inquiry or investigation is made only after a review and consideration of several factors, including: 1) the seriousness of the situation alleged; 2) the specificity of the information provided; 3) whether the complainant has firsthand knowledge or is simply repeating rumor or hearsay; 4) whether there are other or similar complaints regarding the same issues in the same district; 5) the potential for damage to the district if true; 6) the possible outcomes and possible corrective action that could be imposed; 7) the ability to actually prove the facts alleged, and 8) and whether the allegation falls within the jurisdiction of another agency or organization.
Mr. Jones said OEA staff does its best to shield the identity of the complainants. OEA investigations have revealed a concern on the part of complainants that they or someone close to them will suffer retaliation or negative repercussions if it is known that they are a source of information to OEA. It is not always possible to guarantee confidentiality.
Mr. Jones said a complaint may be declined if it is deemed unreliable, is an issue properly reviewed by another agency, or the facts stated in the complaint do not constitute a violation of law. OEA may refer the complainant to the appropriate entity, and several situations generally require an automatic transfer. They are: 1) concerns over accountability testing violations are usually referred to the KDE under KRS 158.6453; 2) special education issues are usually referred to the KDE, as its Division of Exceptional Children is better suited to deal with such matters; 3) allegations of discrimination based on race, gender, or disability status are usually referred to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights or the United States Civil Rights; 4) complaints of violations of the state's open meetings and open records laws are often referred to the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General per KRS 61.800 through 61.884; and 5) charges of criminal activity are usually referred to an appropriate law enforcement agency, such as local police, county sheriff, the Kentucky State Police, or the Cabinet for Families and Children.
Mr. Jones said if another entity with jurisdiction over the matter has an investigation underway, OEA usually declines to open a case or will open a file to monitor the matter addressed by the other agency. At times the OEA may request that a district superintendent look into a complaint and deal with the matter, and advise the OEA after the matter is resolved at the local level. If legal action appears imminent, the OEA stays out of the matter for the same reasons it declines involvement when litigation is already underway.
Mr. Jones said OEA's decision to open a formal case requires that the matter be opened as either a "school-based decision making" file, which deals with those issues associated with KRS 160.345, or an "investigative" file, which deals with non-school-based decision making issues, including but not limited to local school board issues, financial matters, and various teacher and student topics. Following an onsite visit and consideration of all other relevant information, OEA sends a "preliminary report" to those who are the subject(s) of the complaint. This allows those who were investigated to review OEA's preliminary findings, conclusions, and proposed resolution of the matter. OEA attempts to resolve all substantiated complaints by advising school districts and their personnel of appropriate action required to comply with the law.
Mr. Jones said the OEA receives regular and numerous complaints that deal with the operation of councils. One example is the issue of elections, which KRS 160.345(2) (b) provides that teacher representatives are elected by a majority of the teachers. Parents are chosen in elections conducted by the school parent teacher organization or the largest group formed for the purpose of electing parent members. The principal is responsible for the minority member elections. The OEA takes the position that it is best for principals to refrain from involvement in teacher elections, so as to allow the teachers the opportunity to select their representatives in their own process. Having the teachers conduct their own elections also protects the principal from allegations of overreaching by trying to influence the outcome of the teacher elections. OEA endorses some statutory direction regarding the holding of teacher elections.
Mr. Jones said the OEA receives a steady supply of complaints related to school personnel issues alleging that school council prerogatives are infringed upon by principals and superintendents. KRS 160.345(2) requires that the school principal consult with the school council before filling personnel vacancies, except for the filling of a vacancy in the principal position. OEA often receives complaints that school certified and classified staff are hired by the principal or superintendent without the council being consulted regarding the hiring. He also said that KRS 160.345(2)(f) provides that after receiving allocations from the local board of education, the school council then determines the number of persons to be employed in each job classification at the school. OEA receives complaints that allocation are not provided to the council, are provided late, or are provided as a mere formality without the council playing any meaningful role in determining the number of people hired in each job category.
Mr. Jones said KRS 160.345(2)(i) provides that councils shall adopt policies in ten important areas of school operation to be implemented by the principal. OEA receives complaints that school councils do not have policies in all or many of these areas, that policies exist but are ignored, or that policies exist but are deficient and incomplete. If these complaints are substantiated, the OEA educates the district and the council about the statute, refers them to resources for suggested policies, and requires that the school forward newly enacted, revised, or amended policies for review.
Mr. Jones said KRS 160.345 empowers school councils to make decisions that have budgetary impact. Councils are to determine the number of persons to be hired in each job classification, make decisions about textbooks and instructional materials, hire principals, and establish committees. The OEA receives complaints that schools councils are not approving the budget and recording that approval in their meeting minutes. When such complaints are substantiated, the OEA educates the district and the school and seeks documentation of budget review and approval by the council to ensure compliance in the future.
Mr. Jones said as public agencies, local school boards of education, central offices, schools, and school councils and committees are subject to the open meeting and open record provisions of KRS 61.800 through 61.884. OEA receives complaints about open meeting and open record violations and sometimes becomes involved in attempted resolution of such matters. Complaints often allege that the regular school council meeting times are not established, meeting times are inconvenient for the public, and that special called meetings are not conducted with the required special notice to members and the public. The statute provides that violations can be challenged through the Attorney General and the courts, and OEA does not get involved in such proceedings. However, when made aware of potential violations and when able to substantiate them, OEA does educate the district and the schools about compliance with the law and require documentation that the statutes are followed in the future.
Mr. Jones said allegations are made to OEA that sometimes during a meeting, the council moves into closed or executive session away from the public. KRS 61.810 authorized such non-public sessions, but only under circumstances specified in that statute.
Mr. Jones said KRS 61.835 requires that public agencies keep accurate minutes of votes and actions which are available to the public by the next meeting time. Since councils cannot effectively function without accurate minutes to provide a reliable record of consultation, budget, curriculum, and numerous other important school matters, OEA does inquire into complaints of inaccurate minutes and the failure to keep minute. OEA responds to substantiated allegations with education and requirement of future compliance through documentation.
Mr. Jones said other complaints are investigative, and include a variety of topics, such as local board of education member eligibility, financial improprieties, school district boundaries, teacher certification, attendance, school safety, and substitute teacher issues.
Mr. Jones said OEA has an arrangement with the Office of the Attorney General that OEA is to investigate complaints of nepotism, incompatible offices, financial conflict of interest, residency issues, and improper involvement in hiring and make a referral to the Attorney General regarding an ouster proceeding against the board member.
Senator Kelly asked about Mr. Jones' background. Mr. Jones said he is an attorney and a graduate from the University of Kentucky. Senator Kelly said he is confident in the process and was pleased to hear that OEA is referring most cases to county attorneys, school boards, and other appropriate entities. Senator Kelly asked to what extent OEA is involved after referring cases for a 13B hearing or to the Educational Professional Standards Board. Mr. Jones said he has not had personal experience in this area, but believes that OEA would have to participate in the hearings as witnesses because they investigated the case initially. Senator Kelly said the OEA should not be a police force, and tread very carefully to not overstep boundaries. He also said the OEA can be a good information source to report back to this committee on issues going on in the school districts.
Mr. Jones said OEA is receiving numerous complaints about teacher certification. He said the OEA relies greatly upon the expertise of the Education Professional Standards Board when analyzing the facts of certification complaints. Regularly certified individuals who have been passed over for jobs often complain to OEA that less qualified emergency certified people have been improperly placed in vacancies for which certified personnel had applied and were available for hiring. OEA's approach has been to point out the error and to educate the district about hiring practices for the future.
Mr. Jones said OEA is looking into complaints regarding students who live in a particular district but attend school in another district. OEA continues its involvement in these matters at the request of school districts and the KBE, in order to determine if state law was broken.
Mr. Jones said the OEA receives information from complainants that various school safety issues exist in a district or school, such as weapons violations, drug activity, and bullying of students. Such complaints are taken seriously by OEA, but are seen as issues for the local school district and law enforcement. OEA therefore notifies the relevant superintendent and other administrators as soon as possible so they can react to such cases.
Mr. Jones said OEA receives complaints regarding the employment of substitute teachers by school districts. He said 16 KAR 2:030 specifies the order in which potential substitutes shall be given priority when a substitute is chosen to fill in for an absent teacher. District personnel have complained to OEA that this does not always translate into providing the best substitute teacher for the students, and makes it difficult to obtain substitutes under the time pressure and emergency circumstances that exist when schools are trying to fill openings during the morning before school with little notice of the need for a substitute.
Mr. Jones discussed recommendations that the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) and the legislature may want to look in the school-based decision making training process. Based on the volume of complaints that the OEA receives, it appears that it would be highly beneficial that the training be required to specifically include school-based decision making council elections and the process of consultation in hiring at the school level.
Mr. Jones said another recommendation would be for the EAARS and legislature to provide statutory direction to administrators and teachers concerning who conducts the elections of teachers to school councils. The current law is silent as to who conducts the teacher elections.
Senator Westwood asked if the OEA adheres to any ethics standards. Mr. Jones said he is not familiar with a specific ethical code. Senator Westwood asked why some investigation cases are on-going and stay in the annual reports for so long. Mr. Jones said it could be the complexity of the case and it requires multiple site-visits. He also said case loads are coming in huge volumes at this time and that could be a factor. Ms. Seiler said also instead of filing cases away, sometimes they are left open for monitoring purposes.
Senator Westwood asked if the OEA's annual report was available on the website. Ms. Seiler said they are on-line and there are hard copies available in the office.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.