The Power of School Councils

The Power of School Councils

September 23, 2019 Feature, KASL 0

In response to the landmark ruling of the Kentucky Supreme Court in Rose v. Council for Better Education[1] in June 1989, the Kentucky General Assembly dramatically changed the system of public K-12 education in our state. What was introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly the following session as HB 940, became known to all as the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), changed the face for Kentucky education, and introduced the world to school-based decision making councils. 

KRS 160.345 brought forth what some people thought was the single most progressive part of KERA, the required adoption of school-based decision making councils. For all guises, school councils were an attempt to transform schools into communities where the appropriate people (teachers, parents, and the principal) constructively participate in decisions that affect them. For all factual purposes, school councils do so much more. School councils have power that many of us are unaware that they have.

Good grief, Lady, what are you talking about and WHY?!? I seriously did not read this blog for a history lesson on SBDM…

Okay, okay, no one really cares about the history of SBDM. I get it. I do. What you really need to know is:

  1.  What does SBDM have to do with libraries?
  2. What can your SBDM do for YOU?

Lucky…I’m here to tell you.

Every year on March 1, your Board of Education sends your principal and, yes, your SBDM council something called an allocation. This allocation is a number of positions that your building will be able to fill the next school year. These allocations are based on KRS 157.360. You can read it in your free time (or after you stop laughing about the fact that you have no free time). It’s important to remember that councils may only talk about positions, NOT people at this stage. When the board of education sends the staffing allocation over, it may have an administrator, a certain number of teachers listed, etc. Some of the positions may be full positions, some may be 0.5 positions, and some may be listed as even less. 

Why boards continue to send the allocation to the school in this format is the question of the day/week/month/year/decade…you get it. Here’s why…

The only certified positions that a school must have are:

  1. An instructional leader
  2. A librarian (KRS 158.102)—yes, this statute has been interpreted by KDE to mean a portion, any portion, so advocacy to your school-based decision making council is KEY!

The only classified positions that a school must have are:

  1.  A P1 (kindergarten) assistant for every 24 children.

That’s it. All other positions are supplemental and not required under statute or regulation. [2]  Every single other position can be changed by your school council to something else if they so choose. Your school council has the power to do with positions in your school and with ALL the money in your school what they wish. These are required council policies (KRS 160.345 (i.)). 

So, what can your school council do for you? Everything, when it comes to finances! If your council is being sent an allocation from the board of allocation like it’s always been sent, and your position is not 1.0, advocate for your position to be 1.0! Even if it IS 1.0, advocate for your position to STAY 1.0 because they have the power to CHANGE it. If your students need books (and they ALWAYS do), advocate for that Section 7 money that comes from your board of education to buy them! I suggest that you talk to your council members if your library is being affected AT ALL! I suggest you talk to your council members even if it isn’t. The more your colleagues know you are ALL ABOUT ALL KIDS ALL the time, the more they will be willing to put themselves on the line for the things that your library needs. Run for your school-based decision making council! And, if you are not presenting to your school council at least once a year about the state of your library, get on their agenda!

If you have further questions about things your school council can do, ask your principal. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, each district has an SBDM district coordinator. Still not comfortable? See the link below to reach out to the fantastic people at the Kentucky Department of Education. Just remember that the law and best practice aren’t always the same. Advocacy is key in putting forth best practice!

Your board of education is only going to send you the money they are allotted by the state for the students in your building. What your school council decides to do with it makes all the difference!

Other documents or webpages you may be interested in perusing:

  1.  School Based Decision Making
  2. SEEK and SEEK payments (SEEK is the amount of money your district gets from the state per student)
  3. Kentucky Association of School Councils
  4. KDE Library Media

[1] Rose v. Council for Better Education, Inc., KY No. 88-SC-804-TG

[2] SBDM Staffing Allocations Information, Kentucky Department of Education, 2019

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