TheProgram Review and Investigations Committee met on Thursday, October 12, 2006, at 10:00 AM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Tommy Thompson, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, and Katie Stine; Representatives Adrian K Arnold, Dwight D Butler, Charlie Hoffman, Rick G Nelson, Ruth Ann Palumbo, and Arnold Simpson.
Guests: Mark Ryles, Director, Facilities Management; Linda France, Deputy Commissioner of Learning and Results Services, and Connie Lester, Branch Manager of the Highly Skilled Educator Program, Kentucky Department of Education.
LRC Staff: Greg Hager, Committee Staff Administrator; Rick Graycarek; Jim Guinn; Margaret Hurst; Van Knowles; Perry Papka; Rkia Rhib; Deepsi Sigdel; Cindy Upton; Tanlee Wasson; and Jennifer Beeler, Committee Assistant; Program Review and Investigations Committee; Mike Clark, LRC Chief Economist.
Minutes of the September 14, 2006 meeting were approved, without objection, upon motion made by Sen. Pendleton and seconded by Rep. Thompson.
Greg Hager, Program Review Staff, presented a summary to the report Planning for School Facilities Can Be Improved To Better Serve the Needs of All Students. (The report was first presented at the September 14, 2006 meeting.)
Mr. Hager stated that the study covers facilities in general but focuses on accessibility to educational programs by the disabled and growth districts.
He summarized two federal laws that cover access for the disabled. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all programs that receive federal funds, which all Kentucky school districts do. For existing facilities at the time, the mandate was that the program be readily accessible when viewed in its entirety. If any structural changes were needed, there was a timetable for having a transition plan to implement them. Facilities begun after June 3, 1977 were to be readily accessible and usable by disabled persons.
Mr. Hager stated that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is similar to the Rehabilitation Act in its requirements. Because the ADA is better known, it is common to refer to ADA compliance in relation to either act.
He stated that the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards or the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), establish the minimum requirements for complying with the federal laws. Conformance to these standards does not guarantee accessibility however.
Recommendation 2.1 is that KDE should require school facility designers to use ADAAG for building Elements Designed for Children’s Use and ADAAG for Play Areas when constructing or renovating elementary school facilities, particularly those with preschool programs.
Mr. Hager said that enforcement of the disability laws is complaint driven, and there are numerous local, state and federal entities responsible for handling complaints. For new buildings, enforcement can occur through the building code, which incorporates ADAAG, and KDE, as part of its facilities review process, reviews schools plans and makes sure that accessibility is accounted for. He said that states can create other enforcement mechanisms. For example, by state law in Kansas the state attorney general, and city, county or district attorney’s may seek civil penalties and seek reimbursement of expenses to investigate claims of lack of access. These offices and any entity responsible for enforcement can get a court injunction requiring a facility to be in compliance with the law.
Recommendation 2.2 is if it is the intent of the General Assembly to create other means of enforcement of disability laws, statutory authority could be granted to local or state officials to bring enforcement actions in local courts seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties.
Mr. Hager explained that one of the questions addressed by the report is how many schools in Kentucky are not accessible. He said there is no definitive data on compliance with accessibility laws. Based on the age since the school was constructed or the last time it had a major renovation, there are at least 184 schools in Kentucky that are unlikely to be accessible.
Recommendation 2.3 is that KDE should revise the evaluation form used to gather information about the condition of school buildings so that it includes more information about the accessibility of a building and is a more sensitive evaluative tool.
Recommendation 2.4 is that KDE should amend its Master Education Facility Plan Guidelines and School Facilities Planning Manual to require local planning committees to consider federal disability laws and the district’s responsibility to serve disabled students when developing the Master Educational Facility Plan and the District Facility Plan.
Mr. Hager stated that the report also looked at growth districts. Among other requirements to be a growth district are growth of at least 150 students and at least 3 percent over a 5 year period.
He explained that staff looked at districts that would qualify as growth districts based on the 150 student/ 3 percent criteria for 2000 to 2005. From 2000 to 2005, Boone County increased by approximately 2,900 students, about 25 percent; Oldham County had growth of approximately 1,700 students, about 22 percent. He stated that options discussed in the report for addressing needs of growth districts can be categorized as distinguishing between types of districts and exploring alternatives to the 5-year 3 percent/150 student definition.
Mr. Hager stated that the last chapter of the report makes several recommendations for facilities in general, and the framework for those recommendations is developed from the Building Educational Success Together collaborative (BEST) which was chosen because the recommended policies they had were well articulated and consistent with what other entities recommended. He said that BEST had seven recommended policies which led to some specific recommendations for Kentucky. The general policies were: 1) creation of a long term facilities master plan; 2) coordination of facilities planning by school districts with other local planning; 3) a comprehensive maintenance plan; 4) capital improvement plans integrated with the master plans; 5) more consideration of sharing of facilities in the planning process; 6) open and public school facility decision making process; and 7) state technical assistance to school districts.
Recommendation 3.1 is that KDE should require that each school district prepare a comprehensive, long-range educational facilities plan that is regularly updated. The plan should encompass achieving and maintaining compliance with the ADA and providing access to the disabled. Each district’s long-range facilities plan should be coordinated with its capital improvement plan and should be approved by the department.
Recommendation 3.2 is that KDE should conduct a statewide inventory and an assessment of long-term educational facilities needs that are updated regularly.
Recommendation 3.3 is that KDE should require each school district to prepare a comprehensive maintenance plan. The plan should encompass maintaining compliance with the ADA and providing access to the disabled.
Recommendation 3.4 is that KDE should require each school district to prepare a capital improvement plan that uses information from its long-range educational facilities master plan and its comprehensive maintenance plan.
Recommendation 3.5 is that KDE should encourage school districts to examine opportunities for sharing facilities with other districts and with other public entities within the district.
Recommendation 3.6 is that KDE should provide sufficient technical assistance to school districts to ensure that all are in compliance with guidelines for facilities.
Recommendation 3.7 is that KDE should provide guidelines and technical assistance to local school districts to ensure compliance with safety and accessibility standards. The Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act guide is an example of a tool that could be used to assist school districts in complying with ADA and providing access to the disabled.
Mr. Hager stated that in analyzing BEST’s practices and discussing recommendations there were a lot of examples given of what other states are doing. The report also contains profiles of 21 states selected as useful examples for Kentucky.
Rep. Nelson asked if any of the funding percentages include federal funding.
Mr. Hager stated that in the report total funding is state and local funding only.
Sen. Harris asked if there is federal money that schools get for construction, or is it for programs and other things.
Mr. Ryles stated that federal funding for facilities is limited. He mentioned a past, one time $17.1 million grant. He stated that since 1998 Kentucky districts have received Qualified Zone Academy Tax Credits. The annual amounts have ranged from $5.6 to $6.2 million, which is a very small amount compared to other funding sources.
Sen. Stine asked if some districts receiving revenue in lieu of tax enabled them to possibly spend more money on facilities.
Mr. Ryles stated that he was not qualified to answer that, but that KDE could address the question.
Sen. Harris asked whether allowing districts the option to have an extra nickel for facilities would help even out the disparities in the state/local shares of district facility funding, because there are some districts who are at 90 percent and some that are in the teens.
Mr. Ryles stated that the School Facilities Task Force studied this. He stated that a group did a financial study of equity issues for the task force and recommended a 10 cent FSPK program. He stated that the districts that currently have 10 cents or more generally speaking do much better with their facility programs.
The report Planning for School Facilities Can Be Improved To Better Serve the Needs of All Students was adopted upon motion by Sen. Stine and seconded by Rep. Thompson, without objection by roll call vote.
Rick Graycarek, Program Review Staff, presented the report Highly Skilled Educator Program.
Mr. Graycarek stated that highly skilled educators (HSEs) are certified teachers and administrators who are assigned to a limited number of schools to help improve teaching and learning. In addition to the HSE program, the report examined two complementary programs: Commonwealth School Improvement (CSIF)Fund grants and scholastic audits and reviews. He explained that CSIF provides grants to school districts to help raise their schools’ performance and meet student educational needs. Scholastic audits and reviews are evaluations of a school’s strengths and weaknesses.
He explained that the two study objectives in the report were to describe the Highly Skilled Educator program and how it was implemented by the KDE and to determine the impact the HSE program has on school performance, including assessment results.
Mr. Graycarek stated the study had 5 major conclusions, the first is that schools that receive assistance from an HSE, CSIF grant, and a scholastic audit or review showed statistically significant improvement in their accountability index scores. He explained that schools that only received assistance from an HSE performed the same as other schools. The second was that HSE’s interviewed by staff unanimously praised KDE staff for their accessibility and the training they provided. The third was that KDE does not maintain accurate records related to HSE assignments or CSIF grants. He said that the fourth is that KDE appears to lack a documented process for assigning some HSEs to schools. The last is that it is unclear whether KDE can allocate CSIF grants to schools not classified as In Need of Assistance.
He explained that HSEs are generally assigned to schools with low Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) accountability index scores. He explained that schools work toward an accountability index score of 100 by the year 2014. Schools are classified into one of three categories every two years based upon their progress toward this goal. Schools on track to score 100 by 2014 are classified as Meets Goals; schools on track to score at least an 80 are classified as Progressing; and schools with scores below 80 are classified as In Need of Assistance. He stated that approximately one half of schools have been identified as meeting their goals, and fewer than 50 are classified as needing assistance. He said that schools classified as In Need of Assistance are divided into three equal groups. Schools with the highest index scores are Level 1. HSE assistance for these schools is not required, but the schools must conduct a self-guided school assessment or have a scholastic review. He explained that Level 2 is the next one-third of schools. These schools are not required to receive HSE assistance, but must undergo a scholastic review. He explained that the last one-third of schools have the lowest scores and are Level 3. These schools are required to receive assistance from an HSE and have a scholastic audit. He stated that all three levels of schools are eligible for CSIF grants.
Mr. Graycarek stated that HSEs are certified teachers and administrators selected, trained, and assigned to schools by KDE. HSEs perform a variety of tasks including conducting school needs assessments, locating financial and other resources for schools, helping to align school curriculum with the state’s content guidelines, helping prepare students for CATS assessments, and identifying and occasionally leading professional development activities for teachers.
He stated that since the 1998-1999 school year, between 45 and 63 HSEs have been assigned to schools or districts each year. Approximately three-quarters of all HSEs have been assigned one school each year, with the remaining HSEs working at more than one school during the year. KDE allows schools other than Level 3 to request and receive HSE assistance, including some classified as Progressing or Meets Goal. He stated that state statute refers to schools “failing to meeting their threshold” as being eligible for HSE assistance. Staff could not find a definition for threshold, so it is unclear what that standard means. He explained that although KDE’s decision to assign HSEs to schools of any classification may be appropriate, statutory or regulatory language should more clearly define this practice.
Recommendation 2.1 is that under the authority established in KRS 158.6455 (4) to promulgate administrative regulations, the KDE should clearly define “threshold” as it is used in this statutory section.
Mr. Graycarek stated that HSEs are paid by KDE via their home school district. HSEs earn 135 percent of their pre-HSE rate, up to $90,000 per year. He stated that the $90,000 cap can be exceeded if the HSE’s home school district provides cost of living or other merit increases. He explained that since 1999, average HSE pay has increased from $73,700 to $83,900, about a 14 percent increase. In large part, this mirrors a similar percentage increase in their former positions. He stated that neither statutes nor regulations currently limit HSE pay. The 1998-2000 biennial budget did restrict HSE pay to 135 percent, but that officially ended when the budget expired. KDE continues to limit HSE pay to 135 percent. He stated that HSEs’ contracts are reviewed by the Government Contract Review Committee.
Recommendation 2.2 is that if it is the will of the General Assembly, guidelines for HSE compensation should be incorporated into state statute or regulation.
He said that based upon the number of available HSEs, their skills and preferences are matched to the needs and locations of schools that request or are required to receive assistance from an HSE. He stated that KDE does not seem to have a method for determining the relative merits of assigning HSEs to one school versus another. So, for example, if two similar schools request HSE assistance, the first school to do so may be more likely to receive assistance.
Recommendation 2.3 is that the state board of education should provide, as directed by KRS 158.782 (1), “guidelines for providing highly skilled education assistance to schools and school districts.”
Mr. Graycarek explained that KDE allows HSEs to work up to three consecutive years and most do. Between 2001 and 2004, two-thirds of HSEs worked three consecutive years. State statute does not appear to provide a specific time limit. He stated that practical reasons may exist for limiting HSEs to three years – serving as an HSE requires long hours and may be stressful – but HSEs interviewed by staff were generally unclear about the limits imposed by KDE.
Recommendation 2.4 is for KDE to provide detailed descriptions and/or training to HSEs to clarify the current practice of limiting service to three years.
He said that there appear to be no formal evaluations of the HSEs. HSEs remain employees of their home school districts, which limits KDE to evaluating HSEs as contractees, not as employees. He said that KDE can terminate contracts, but has limited intermediate means to recognize performance. KDE could benefit from evaluative information provided by the schools to which HSEs are assigned. There is no formal process by which school administrators and faculty can submit comments to KDE about the HSE assigned to their school.
Recommendation 2.5 is for KDE to establish a formal process for school administrators, faculty, parents, and others to comment about the performance of HSEs currently assigned to schools.
Mr. Graycarek stated that KDE administers the HSE program but generally has not kept accurate records and, according to the department, has conducted relatively few on-site HSE visits. He explained that because an HSE can divide his or her time between or among schools, tracking the location and distribution of the HSE’s time is important. He said that KDE records HSE compensation separately from its assignment data, which occasionally resulted in the two datasets containing different or mismatched entries.
Recommendation 2.6 is for KDE to provide more on-site HSE reviews and maintain and regularly update a database that includes HSE school assignments, the amount of time HSEs work at each school, HSE compensation, and HSE home school district information.
Mr. Graycarek stated that, technically, CSIF grants are awarded to school districts but they, in turn, forward those grants to schools. He explained that CSIF helps schools pursue new and innovative strategies to raise performance and meet the educational needs of students. Items funded through CSIF grants have included professional development, consultants, and reading materials. He said that KDE knows how schools spend some of their CSIF grants, but it does not have records on all CSIF school spending.
Recommendation 3.1 is that KDE should compile and produce annual school-level reports of CSIF expenditures. The department should ensure that school districts comply with all financial reporting requirements.
Mr. Graycarek said that beginning with the 2004-2005 school year, KDE and the state Board of Education divided the CSIF program into two types of grants: assistance and targeted. Assistance CSIF grants which, have existed since 1985, only go to schools classified as In Need of Assistance. He explained that according to KDE, the department no longer has records prior to 2002 regarding these grants. Targeted CSIF grants, which are more recent according to KDE, go to schools not classified as In Need of Assistance but which have the potential to slip into that classification.
Recommendation 3.2 is that the Kentucky Board of Education and KDE should review and report on the statutory or regulatory authority to provide CSIF to schools not classified by their accountability scores as In Need of Assistance.
Mr. Graycarek said that even if KDE has the authority to provide targeted CSIF grants, the department’s current process for determining which schools are eligible for those grants are unclear. He explained that, according to KDE, the department considers several factors, which include school accountability index scores in the 50s and 60s, high novice rates, high dropout rates, declining index scores, and a high number of achievement gaps. He explained that achievement gaps are differences in student performance in math and reading for various student populations, including gender and minorities. Overall, though, KDE could not specifically identify how these factors were used in determining eligibility for targeted CSIF grants. As a result, it appears that some schools were considered eligible for these grants while other similar schools were not.
Recommendation 3.3 is that the Kentucky Board of Education and KDE should develop and use a formal process, preferably through administrative regulation, that identifies and ranks which schools are eligible for targeted assistance CSIF grants.
He said that the third and final component of state assistance included in this report is scholastic audits and reviews. Every school classified as In Need of Assistance is required to undergo a school evaluation, which generally provide a detailed description of a school’s strengths and weaknesses. He explained they may also be used by HSEs to guide the use of their time and to help determine how CSIF grants are spent. He said that costs are generally paid by KDE and, depending on the number of students at a school and its performance, audits and reviews generally cost between $14,000 and $20,000 each. KDE conducts about 60 of these evaluations per year. HSEs regularly serve on these evaluation teams, but only at schools in which they are not serving.
Mr. Graycarek explained the last section of this report discusses the statistical findings from staff’s research to determine HSEs impact on school performance. Staff examined whether HSEs, CSIF grants, and scholastic audits and reviews affected the annual change in schools’ accountability index scores. He explained that previous reports concluded that schools with HSEs showed greater annual improvement in their index scores than did other schools. He said that those reports did not consider whether other factors accounted for any of this improvement and did not consider the impact that CSIF grants or scholastic audits and reviews might have.
He stated that these reports also did not examine whether a school’s index school the year before receiving an HSE affected changes in the index. He said that schools with low accountability index scores on average improved more than schools with high accountability index scores. This result was consistent for all the years that staff examined. He stated that schools that receive HSE assistance tend to have low accountability index scores. So improvement in index scores is not necessarily caused by HSEs.
Mr. Graycarek stated that there are a few limitations about the statistical model used in the report. The first is that the model included relevant factors that could be identified and for which data were available; other relevant factors could still exist. Second, errors in data may still exist, as covered in Recommendation 2.6. Third, staff were unable to determine whether HSEs have a long-term impact because the analysis conducted for this study was limited to four school years. Fourth, the model explains about 10 percent of the annual change in school accountability index scores. This is low but is not uncommon for this type of analysis. Finally, HSEs may provide other benefits to individual students or schools that were not measured by the model used in this report.
He stated that the model evaluated unique combinations of state assistance: HSE only; CSIF only; scholastic audit/review only; some combination of these three types of assistance; or no state assistance at all. Overall, schools that received all three types of assistance showed statistically significant improvements compared to other schools. In 2003, the 34 schools that received an HSE, CSIF grant and a scholastic audit/review improved by 3.5 points more than other schools. In 2005, 31 schools received all three types of assistance and improved by 2 points more than other schools. No school received these three types of assistance in 2004 or 2006. Schools that received assistance just from a CSIF grant and a scholastic audit/review improved by 2.2 points more than other schools in 2003 and 2005. Schools that only received assistance from an HSE showed no statistically significant improvement in any of the four years examined.
Mr. Graycarek stated that in the report there is a table that describes in more detail the other factors that staff considered in this analysis. For example, staff considered prior years’ index scores and various school demographic and student demographic information.
Rep. Palumbo asked if staff looked at programs in other states that may be good models.
Mr. Graycarek stated that staff looked at six southeastern states, but did not go into an analysis of any of the programs. Staff were aware of any rigorous evaluations of programs in other states to determine effectiveness.
Sen. Harris asked if any of the six southeastern states have an accountability program like Kentucky with the equivalent of reaching 100 for each school as a goal.
Mr. Graycarek stated that he did not know the specifics of the states’ accountability systems. He said that in general states have gone to a more rigorous accountability system and Kentucky’s system has been viewed as a model by many other states.
Sen. Borders asked if there are federal requirements that may have been relevant to the report.
Mr. Graycarek stated that the HSE program is a state program. There are requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act that the HSE program fulfills, but the HSE program was created by the state.
Sen. Borders asked how HSEs salaries compare to school administrators.
Mr. Graycarek stated that some HSEs were school administrators. He said that the average teacher salary is about $40,000, but teachers work under a 185 day contract and HSEs work under a 240 day contract.
Sen. Harris commented on the example in the report regarding the pay scale. It was stated that a teacher who earned $200 a day would go to $270 a day, which is a 35 percent increase. $200 is multiplied by 185 days, the total is $37,000. However, if $270 is multiplied by 240 days, the total is $64,800. Looked at this way, the increase over the previous salary is more than 35 percent, because there are more days.
Sen. Stine asked if in addition to the increased salary, the HSEs get travel expenses as well as other expenses.
Mr. Graycarek stated that they do get reimbursement for expenses.
Ms. France stated at the heart of the HSE program is the desire to assist districts and schools to improve the quality of instruction for all students, and to build a culture and a climate of high expectations that can be sustained over time. She explained that as stated in the report HSEs work with school faculty, staff, and students to help improve teaching and learning. Overall, the schools that received assistance through a combination of the HSE placement, CSIF, and scholastic audits or reviews show statistically significant improvements in their accountability index scores. She stated that NCLB does require districts to provide interventions to low performing schools, and the HSE program has proven to be a successful intervention. She stated that other states have modeled their programs on the HSE program, and KDE has continued to be invited to national conferences to talk about the program.
Ms. France explained that with the exception of placing HSEs at the Kentucky School for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Deaf, no HSE has been assigned to a school or district that is meeting goal. She said that sometimes they refer to meeting goal as meeting their threshold. She stated that many schools they are serving could be categorized as chronically low performing schools. KDE is assigning fewer HSEs to such schools but does have concerns about them. She said that KDE is working with the Education subcommittee looking at interventions in low performing schools, and will be presenting recommendations to that subcommittee for additional work. She stated that KDE wholeheartedly supports the goal of continuous improvement for schools, districts, and KDE. She stated that many of the recommendations from the report will result in changes, especially in data keeping and reporting and in some regulations that need to be brought to the attention of the Kentucky Board of Education.
Sen. Harris stated that the most disconcerting issues to him were the lack of auditing, oversight, and accountability for where the HSEs are. He asked if these issues would be addressed in order for the HSEs to understand what their job responsibilities are and how long they have to serve.
Ms. France stated that when the HSEs are first hired into the program they sign a memorandum of agreement that they are working under a one-year contract, with a possible renewal for a second year and a third year. In addition, KDE meets with all HSEs before they begin their duties. HSEs have regional meetings on a regular basis. She stated that all new HSEs are visited by KDE staff in a mentoring kind of relationship. KDE does want to collect more solid data on the work performed in the districts and is taking steps to do so.
Rep. Palumbo asked if the HSEs report back to KDE and do they meet with the site based council.
Ms. France stated that in the best case scenario a full-time HSE is assigned to a school, and there would be a scholastic audit that serves as a plan of action. The site-based councils are aware of that plan, which becomes a plan for their work.
Rep. Palumbo asked if the school administration would be prevented from going in front of the site-based council.
Ms. France stated that they should not be prevented from going in front of the site based council. She explained that one of the things they encourage HSEs to do is build capacity in the school and the district. In order to do that, HSEs have to work closely with leadership, both at the school and district level.
Rep. Thompson stated that according to the report in schools with only an HSE there was no improvement in index scores. The best return on investment were when an HSE, CSIF and audit were packaged together. He asked if HSEs alone are a prudent expenditure of money without the other parts of the package.
Ms. France explained that many schools that are assigned only an HSE, are assigned a part-time HSE.
Ms. Lester stated the department’s response to Recommendation 2.1 outlines the priority in which KDE assigns HSEs to schools. She stated that Level 3 schools are first priority. Those schools receive full-time HSEs, scholastic audits, and CSIF grants. Depending on the availability of HSEs who can be assigned to other schools, the next priority is to serve Level 1 and Level 2 schools. Those schools are not required to accept an HSE but the invitation is extended and most schools accept the invitation.
Ms. France stated that they do want to work with staff and do more analysis of the data.
Sen. Harris asked what self-guided studies, scholastic reviews, and audits entailed.
Ms. France stated that the self-guided review is a self-guided study within a school or a district and it gives them the standards and indicators for school improvement.
She said that an audit looks at curriculum, instruction, assessment, school culture, leadership, and professional development. She said that all the standards that are used with the audit are used for reviews; the only difference is there is an internal team versus an external team.
Sen. Harris asked what CSIF grants are used for.
Ms. France stated that the money is used for professional development and other resources, but the bottom line for the use of the funds is looking at whether the funds are being used to support the improvement plan.
Sen. Stine stated that as the co-chair of the Government Contract Review Committee she has looked at HSE contracts for some time and found it troubling that there is $6 or $7 million a year spent on the program. She said she was not aware of the lack of accountability and problems of data collection and recordkeeping. She stated that there might need to be a financial audit of KDE in general if this is indicative of other programs. She stated that there should be clearer prerequisites for what it takes to be a highly skilled educator, some of them now come from low scoring schools.
Ms. France stated that KDE does recognize from time to time that all HSE placements should be changed. She said that they are asking individuals to assume leadership positions in these schools; some HSEs already have principal certification. She stated that the average principal salary in the state is $89,000, so salaries are comparable. She noted that HSEs receive extensive training. She explained they are asking HSEs to take on difficult assignments, leave their home districts, and do a lot of traveling. She said that one of the unintended benefits of this program is that through the training and knowledge and skills gained in the program, highly skilled superintendents and principals have been produced.
Rep. Palumbo asked what the definition of school culture was.
Ms. France stated that school culture is a set of beliefs that a set of individuals bring to the school that influences behavior within the school. It is a set of practices, the way that things are done within the school.
Rep. Palumbo asked if it included school discipline.
Ms. France stated that it does.
Rep. Palumbo asked if KDE receives cooperation from all the schools and districts in which there are HSEs.
Ms. France stated that if the school is willing to accept the help, then the turnaround is more positive and there are quicker results. If there is resistance to change, then improvement is difficult.
Rep. Palumbo asked if an HSE is assigned to a school, but the school resists change and its index score does not improve, would another HSE be sent to that school the following year.
Ms. France stated that HSEs are there as long as there is a need, and if there is still a need for improvement they do not give up on the school.
Sen. McGaha stated that when energy and the dollars are expended to send HSEs to schools, it is expected that there would be more results. There are school districts being creative and hiring their own staff to do jobs that are similar to the HSEs, and many of these schools are successful. They are analyzing what they are doing themselves. They are looking at how to better teach toward the test. He stated that many schools are resistant to change, particularly change coming from the department. He said that the report had very good suggestions, but that some recommendations went too far in calling practices to be formalized by statute or regulation.
The motion to approve the report Highly Skilled Educators Program was made by Sen. Stine and seconded by Rep. Thompson. By roll call vote, the motion was not adopted.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:00.