By David Baird
KSBA Interim Executive Director
Over the eight years that I’ve worked with the Kentucky School Boards Association, I’ve always been surprised at the faster pace that we all maintain during the legislative session. Our walk is a slow gallop to keep pace with all the meetings we need to attend and to make all the scheduled appointments we have on our calendars, which are double- and triple-booked. We are consumed with discovering each morning what bills were filed overnight and how quickly we can read them and try to digest the implications for school boards and superintendents. The vastness of the tracking of bills becomes almost unmanageable at times because each session we will monitor between 200 and 300 education-related pieces of legislation.
Collaboration is paramount, not only internally among KSBA staff but also among the total education community statewide, so we can all be well-organized and well-informed about every bill. Shannon Stiglitz, KSBA’s director of Governmental Relations, is the point person who leads our effort, along with myself, attorneys Teresa Combs and John Fogle, and the Policy staff of Katrina Kinman, Kim Barker, Janet Jeanes and Kelly Thomas.
In addition to our regular monitoring of legislative actions, this team organizes a superintendents conference call each Monday morning to discuss the latest filed bills and to discuss and clarify positions. Superintendents in every regional educational cooperative across the state regularly join this discussion, along with representatives from the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and state Department of Education staff.
On Monday afternoons, the 3KT group (KSBA, KASS, KASA) meets in the Capitol Annex to dissect bills and propose language changes or strategies to kill or support specific bills. After hearing from superintendents on the conference call that morning, we have a better idea of how school leaders feel about the positions we may take.
We complete our Mondays with a second conference call, this time involving the KSBA Board of Directors’ Governance Committee. Those six school board leaders weigh in with the board member’s perspective for a possible KSBA position. By that time, we also have the advantage of knowing how our other educational groups feel about specific legislation and any need for immediate action. With our network of legislative contacts in the local districts (currently we have contacts in 83 districts) and at the direction of our Governance Committee, we could send out an Action Alert and potentially generate hundreds of calls and/or green slips to our legislators within a 24-hour period.
But without question, the most effective asset KSBA has in any legislative session is the effort by local board members and superintendents who maintain a working relationship with your legislators. We hear from lawmakers about your calls, emails and visits, and the effectiveness of your lobbying efforts. Please keep up the good work as we head into the final stretch of the session.
Let’s work to guarantee the funding proposal that was included in the governor’s budget bill. By working together, we can and we will secure the necessary resources for our children because OUR KIDS CAN’T WAIT!