Our top priorities for improving education and strengthening districts in 2019 are listed below. You may also download a printable PDF version.
Advancing school safety comprehensively with assistance, not unfunded mandates
We ask the General Assembly to help us to ‘harden our buildings and soften our schools’ through a comprehensive bill addressing the safety and wellbeing of students and staff holistically. This must avoid unfunded mandates, by analyzing safety initiatives in balance with our overall mission and all other education reforms currently being implemented with scarce funds.
Balancing school-based decision making (SBDM) councils and school boards
We need a better balance in school council and school board decision making authority to advance both student achievement and public accountability & support. We ask the General Assembly to:
• Allow superintendents to select principals, after consultation with the SBDM council;
• Enact a robust review process, with clear board authority to amend a council action that hinders the efficient operation of the district as a whole; and
• Allow boards to request suspension of a council if warranted to improve student advancement.
Providing accountable administration of CERS
We ask the General Assembly to create a separate, independent board of trustees, and administrative and investment staff, for the CERS that is directly accountable to the local retirees, local employees, local employers, and local taxpayers invested in this system.
Streamlining background checks to focus on individuals interacting with students
The backlog of newly required state and federal background check requests from districts has led to unintended consequences, and high costs, that may actually hinder student safety. We ask the General Assembly to target this requirement to focus on individuals directly serving students.
Clarifying the new filing requirements for school board candidates
We ask the General Assembly to clarify the recently enacted law, to allow candidates to provide alternative evidence of their qualifications, removing red tape for candidates and county clerks.
Appropriating Volkswagen settlement funds to the replacement of school buses
We ask the General Assembly to appropriate VW settlement funds to districts to help us replace old, inefficient, high-emission school buses as explicitly contemplated under the settlement agreement.
Ensuring an effective teacher for every child through tribunal reform
We ask the General Assembly to amend the tribunal process to ensure timely due process hearings that are fair not only to our teachers, but also to our students and parents.
Aligning school board revenue flexibility to that of all other local elected officials
Local elected boards do not have the same revenue options as all other elected county and city leaders do, in that the imposition of school taxes is subject to recall whereas other local taxes aren’t. Good tax policy calls for a balanced, diverse mix of revenue sources. We ask the General Assembly to remove recall provisions from the imposition of permissive taxes by elected school boards.
Our Shared Mission
This year, our public schools are being asked to simultaneously:
• Implement a new assessment & accountability system;
• Teach to all-new academic standards;
• Acquire or create new curricula tied to new standards, without state textbook funds;
• Adjust to new, extremely demanding and costly graduation requirements;
• Close achievement gaps that no state has yet found a way to close;
• Create new essential skills and financial literacy programs; and
• Teach kids whose parents are addicted to drugs and incarcerated at epidemic levels that lead the nation and the world…
All while working to not only teach our kids to read, count, and become good citizens, but too often also working to meet each and every child’s most basic daily human needs of food, clothing, and health.
More is being demanded of our schools than ever before. These are bigger lifts than implementing KERA was in the early 90s -but this time without KERA’s investment of over half a billion in new dollars annually in classrooms! We need you, our state partners, to help us with funding, flexibility, and reasonable time to accomplish our shared mission.
“The system of common schools must be adequately funded to achieve its goals. The system of common schools must be substantially uniform throughout the state. Each child, every child, in this Commonwealth must be provided with an equal opportunity to have an adequate education. Equality is the key word here. The children of the poor and the children of the rich . . . must be given the same opportunity and access to an adequate education. This obligation cannot be shifted to local counties and local school districts.”
-Chief Justice Robert F. Stephens
Writing for the court in Rose v. Council for Better Education
June 8, 1989