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Education in Brief

Education Briefs

Kentucky School Advocate
January 2020

Breathitt County board regains authority
After eight years under state management, Breathitt County Schools regained its autonomy after a unanimous vote of the Kentucky Board of Education. 

The KBE, as constituted on Dec. 4, voted to release control of the district after an audit determined the district’s superintendent and school board have the capacity to run the district. The Kentucky Department of Education will continue to assist the district. 

“It was truly a broken district when it went into state management,” said KDE Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster, who has worked with the district for six of the eight years. “They still have a ways to go in different areas of their district, but … I feel really confident that they are going to continue to improve.”

The district’s finances and leadership team are both strong, she told KBE before the vote. The district’s enrollment has also increased as families have regained confidence in the district, she said. 

Foster, who interviewed each board member and had been approving board agendas and meeting minutes, commended the school board for its “tremendous focus around children.”

“They are really focusing on making sure they are using their resources – human resources or financial resources – toward what’s best for their students,” she said. 

Breathitt Superintendent Phillip Watts told then-board members that he hopes his district will be out of state assistance soon.

“We are going to keep doing what’s best for kids and doing what is right,” he said. 

Agencies partner to improve student well-being
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) have launched the Kentucky CARES campaign (Communities are Acting to Reach, Engage and Support) designed to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of Kentucky’s youth in schools, homes and communities.

The initiative plans to offer research and mentorship for students who may need help along with activities that encourage positive engagement in and out of the classroom. The departments say they have also reached final approval of a Medicaid state plan amendment.

Officials say that could help the physical and mental wellbeing of students enrolled in Medicaid.

“Whether that is facilities, transportation or any of the other safety. This is the thing that will help us in the health and physical health area to really get students learning ready so they can come, be in school and ready for instruction,” said KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney.

Bill to raise tobacco age filed, rally planned
Supporters of laws designed to reduce tobacco use by adolescents and teens in Kentucky will hold a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14. 

The rally, organized by the Coalition for a Smoke-free Tomorrow, of which KSBA is a member, is designed to garner support for laws designed to limit youth access to tobacco products. One of those laws is a bill filed by Sen. Ralph Alvarado that would raise the legal age for buying all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

The bill would help reverse the youth e-cigarette, or “vaping,” epidemic that has reached more than a quarter of Kentucky’s high school students and one in seven middle schoolers, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. Other bills include enacting a excise tax on e-cigarettes and increasing funding for prevention and cessation programs. 

Sign up for the rally.

Winter Symposium 2019
More than 300 board members, superintendents and education leaders attended KSBA’s 2019 Winter Symposium Nov. 22–23 in Louisville. For more photos from the event, go to our Facebook page.

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