Advocacy, novice reduction and some rare classes
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
If school board members leave this year’s KSBA Winter Symposium with the savvy they need to advocate on behalf of K-12 education, they can thank Ramona Malone.
A couple of months ago, the Newport Independent school board member asked KSBA Governmental Relations Director Hope McLaughlin to meet with her to give her more information about Kentucky education agencies and organizations, and about the legislature so she could more effectively advocate for education.
“I do it in my community, but is there more I can do? I was looking for what more can I do to get others to hear and know the value of education and the importance of education,” said Malone, who also sits on KSBA’s board of directors. “If we don’t know how to be a voice, how can we really help others to be a voice for education?”
That led to an idea that McLaughlin will set in motion in the form of the Saturday morning plenary session called Advocating for Education 2016 during Winter Symposium, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4-5 at the Marriott East in Louisville.
“What I plan is to walk members through the different players that have a hand in making education policy, whether it’s the regulatory process – which is supremely important to K-12 education – and then also giving them information on leadership in the House and the Senate and committee chairmen,” McLaughlin said. She will also give a preview of the 2016 General Assembly.
“People need to know how the people they vote for feel about education,” Malone said. “That’s the missing piece for us as board members and as voters. We vote for these people based on what they present to us, but do we really know their views on education?”
McLaughlin said it’s important to know where agencies like the state board of education fit in the “education pipeline.” Likewise, she said knowing where individual legislators are from can help, particularly since this will be a budget session.
“With legislators, you have a citizen legislature, so knowing the areas that someone comes from will give you more familiarity with the issues they might be dealing with in their district, and also personal connections that our membership might have with someone in a position of leadership or committee chairmanship,” she said.
The advocacy plenary, at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, will do double duty this year as Academy of Studies credit.
Requirements and rarely heard offerings
The wide variety of clinic sessions at the winter training range from energy management to use of social media to policy making. For school board members who need to fulfill mandated training requirements before the end of the year, the Winter Symposium has that covered, said Kerri Schelling, director of Board Team Development. Sessions will be offered in the three required areas of superintendent evaluation, ethics and school finance.
But the event also includes some sessions that are not offered very often in the training rotation, which is great for members actively pursuing advancement within the Academy of Studies, Schelling noted, including one on the board’s role in district personnel.
“We don’t offer very many sessions on this topic, since the board has such a limited role in personnel, but lots of people have been asking for it, so we’re really excited that we’re going to be able to offer that,” she said.
There also will be a workshop on the state education department’s new novice reduction push. It will be led by Linda Rains, who is coordinating the effort. “All districts are going to be affected by it,” Schelling noted.
For those who want to brush up on holding orderly board meetings, there will be a session on parliamentary procedure, with a focus on small boards, presented by Morgan County school board member Mary Alice Oldfield.
To register for Winter Symposium, click here.