Saturday, February 3, 2018

Sarah And I Went to Frankfort: A Week of Advocating for Students


The last four days have been a whirlwind that kicked off with an event hosted by the Kentucky School Board Association in Frankfort Wednesday night where school board members from around the state were able to meet with legislators for an evening reception to discuss legislation that impacts school districts. Most notably, I had a minute with Senator Max Wise (R) Senate District 16 who is the Session Education Committee Chair and the Education Assessment & Accountability Review Subcommittee Co-Chair. I was also able to speak with former House Speaker Jody Richards (D) House District 20, and House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D) House District 99.


Thursday morning I had meetings with our own Senator Paul Hornback (R) Senate District 20 and Representative Rob Rothenburger (R) House District 58 in their offices. In both meetings I had the opportunity to discuss what the cuts in the Governor's proposed budget (HB200) would mean for Shelby County students and I asked them to look at the very viable options for increaasing state revenues through tax reform outlined in HB29. Any refusal to consider increasing revenues says to me that the legislature would rather take $324 from every student in Shelby County than to reduce tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate handouts.
Thursday afternoon was dedicated to a learning opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for my daughter, Sarah. Huge thanks to Representative McKenzie Cantrell (D) House District 38 for giving allowing Sarah to page for her and giving us the grand tour of the Capital.
Thursday evening Sarah and I rushed back to Shelbyville to attend the Teacher of The Year Banquet at the Blair Center adjacent to Southside Elementary. Congratulations to our school winners Amanda Hum -West Middle, Sloan Burroughs - Painted Stone, Denise McClain - Heritage, Zach Ramsey - Area Technology Center, Karen Watson - Southside, Kristi Biram - Northside, Jarrod Taylor - Big Picture, Billy Korfhage - East Middle, Shelley LaGrange - Simpsonville, Lynn Tidwell - Clear Creek, Tim Oltman - Collins, Heidi Floyd - Wright, and our District Teacher of The Year who will go on to compete for the State Teacher of The Year Eva Bently of Shelby County High School.

Friday morning I visited three of our schools to observe work in the classroom and meet students and staff. Special thanks to Painted Stone Elementary, Southside Elementary, and Simpsonville Elementary for sharing their day with me. I became an honorary member of Team Achievement at Painted Stone Elementary and participated in their Openeing Ceremonies for the Olympics. I was able to obeserve fifth grade electives at Southside Elementary including Hair Behind Art, Dig in The Dirt, Comic Book Design, Basketball, Drama, and Teaching Young Readers. At Simposnville I was able to observe an amazing example of what the Workshop Learning Model looks like and the amazing degree of effectiveness it has on challenging students, maintaining engagement, and encouraging critical thinking.
Friday afternoon saw another meeting with Rob Rothenburger and Paul Hornback at Central Office. Our district Superintendent James Neihof and Finance Officer Susan Barkley were able to lay out in black and white, as well as a lot of red, what the proposed cuts in HB200 mean for Shelby County Public Schools and districts across the state. If districts are required to dip into reserve funds to cover these cuts, 54 districts across the state would be insolvent after one year of using reserves to cover the cuts and 108 would be insolvent after two years. The alternative to insolvency woul be to drastically cut services to students. Both Rothenburger and Hornback were appreciative of the data and analysis and seemed to agree that the cuts don't make sense as proposed. I am truly appreciative of their time to come and meet with District Leadership to look at the facts with an open mind.

The General Assembly is far from over and your voice is still needed. I encourage you to stay abreast of the news and I'll do what I can to keep you informed. Your advocacy for students is every bit as crucial as mine and our work is far from over.

Thank you for your support and your advocacy,


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