Education

Updated: 3:47 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020

The Kentucky Board of Education will permit local school boards to opt out of mandatory charter school training.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved a recommendation to waive the annual training required under the state’s charter school laws.

The board has granted the waiver to 16 districts who have already requested one, and will extend the waiver to any other district that makes a similar request.

Local school boards would only have to get trained if they receive a charter school application.

Charter schools are legal in Kentucky, but state lawmakers haven’t determined how to fund them. So far, just one Kentucky school board has received a charter school application, which it denied. 

State lawmakers are also considering changing state law to waive the training requirement for school boards without any charter schools. Two bills have been introduced to change the training requirement.

Original Post:

Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin Brown is recommending the Kentucky Board of Education allow local school boards to opt out of mandatory training on how to oversee charter schools. Brown’s recommendation would reverse the decision of the previous board, ousted by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Kentucky’s charter school laws require local school boards to go through annual training on how to regulate charter schools. But since the state made charters legal in 2017,  just one district has received an application to open one. Many districts say since they aren’t getting charter school applications, the training requirement is overly burdensome. They’re asking the state to waive the training.

In their waiver requests, one district said it would cost an extra $4,000 to get trained. Another worried the time commitment for the training could force board members to resign.

Former education commissioner Wayne Lewis disagreed, and in December the board denied several requests to waive the training. But newly appointed interim commissioner Kevin Brown has a different opinion.

It’s a “good training,”  Brown said in an interview Monday. “But if they are not likely to receive a charter application, it’s also somewhat getting in the way of other training opportunities they have for other issues.”

Under the proposed waiver, local school boards could forgo training if they hadn’t received an application. If they receive a charter school application, they would have to get trained within 10 days.

Brown said the only school board to receive an application, Newport Independent Schools, got trained within “three or four days.”

“That’s a model that’s already been shown districts can utilize,” Brown said.

Newport Independent Schools denied the charter application. The charter group has appealed that decision to the state board of education.

The state board will vote on the waiver recommendation at its meeting Tuesday.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.