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Kentucky Senate backs a new selection process for State Board of Education members

Left to right standing-GOP Senator Mike Wilson and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer 03-05-24
Stu Johnson
Left to right standing-GOP Senator Mike Wilson and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer 03-05-24

The Kentucky Senate has voted to change how members are chosen to sit on the governing board for the Commonwealth’s public secondary and elementary schools. Currently, the governor appoints members to the State Board of Education.

The measure, sponsored by GOP Bowling Green Senator Mike Wilson, calls for the state’s voters to make those decisions. There would be partisan elections, something Wilson said was debated.

“Well there was discussion about that, but I feel like when you’re partisan, that you have a better handle on what people stand for what their beliefs are and the value systems that they have. And so, people are more informed as to who they are voting for,” said Wilson.

Under the legislation, the first election, based on the seven Supreme Court districts, would occur at the end of 2026.

Casting one of the no votes was Louisville Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong. She said party politics have no place in Kentucky classrooms.

“I see no evidence that this change will improve educational outcomes, that moving to partisan elections is good for our kids. In fact, eight out of the top ten states that perform at the top of our educational outcomes have appointed school boards,” said Chambers Armstrong.

Wilson told members the current system has its problems. He said governors in both political parties have made politically-based decisions in making appointments.

The bill passed by a 24 to 14 vote and now moves on to the Kentucky House.


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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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