School Board approves donations, hears legislative update

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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The Monday meeting of the Jessamine County School Board was an eventful one.

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Board approved donations to the district and some action items from a previous work session:

• A $2,000 donation from the Jessamine County Board of Education to the 2023 Project Graduation to support the free event for graduating seniors from East Jessamine High School, West Jessamine High School and the Providence School.

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• A $2,097.01 donation to the Jessamine Early Learning Village from its parent-teacher organization.

• $500 to East Jessamine Middle School from Walter Jourdan.

• $1,000 to West Jessamine Middle School business classes from Harvard Student Agencies.

• $1000 to West Jessamine Middle School Unity Garden from Pace E. Bene, INC.

• $10,000 donation from Jessamine Early Learning Village from its parent-teacher organization.

The Board also approved action items.

The first item received its first reading. It will revise the district policy to allow all employees one more personal leave day per year.

The Board also approved a job description for a Jessamine Early Learning Village Autism Coordinator to assist teachers with their autistic students and their growth in language skills.

During a work session, the Board also discussed the recent legislative session based on an overview document released by the Kentucky Department of Education. Specifically, it reviewed emergency bills that directly affect Kentucky schools.

The following bills listed and their descriptions come from a document called “2023 Legislative Guidance- Emergency Bills” published by the Kentucky Department of Education.

House Bills

House Bill 5 – This bill relates to the Bourbon Barrel Taxes and states that they will be slowly phased out starting in 2026, lowering each year thereafter until eliminated in 2043. School districts all around Kentucky receive funding from these taxes and will lose it altogether in the following decades.

House Bill 32 – This bill allows the school district to hire people who do not have a high school diploma or GED for classified positions, such as janitors, secretaries, cafeteria workers and bus drivers. Jessamine County has already started filling these positions. All school districts in Kentucky must still allow the opportunity for employees to receive their GED, and Jessamine County is adhering to this without making it a requirement for employees.

House Bill 153 – This bill prohibits any law enforcement agency or officer any public agency or any officer from enforcing, assisting, or cooperating in the enforcement of firearm bans enacted on or after January 1, 2021. KRS 527.070 is a state law passed that prohibits the possession of a firearm, open or concealed, on any school campus, bus, athletic field, or other property owned or used by a public school. A second act passed in 1965 and amended in 2015 requires states to expel students for no less than one year if they bring a firearm to school. Both of these were passed before January 1, 2021, so weapons are still prohibited on any property or vehicle used or owned by a public school.

House Bill 553 – This bill allows “growth districts” to receive additional funding.

Senate Bills

Senate Bill 5 – This bill creates a new section in Kentucky Revised Statutes to define “harmful to minors” and it requires school districts to adopt a complaint resolution policy to address parent’s complaints about materials deemed harmful to minors. “Harmful to minors” is defined by materials, programs or events that: Contain the exposure, in an obscene manner, of the unclothed or apparently unclothed human male or female genitals, pubic area, buttocks or the female breast, or visual depictions of sexual acts or simulations of sexual acts, or explicit written descriptions of sexual acts; Appeal to the interest in sex; Or is offensive to prevailing standards regarding what is suitable for minors.

Jessamine County Schools already has a complaint resolution process in place and therefore already adheres to this new bill.

Senate Bill 7 – This bill prohibits employers from performing payroll deductions for the benefit of certain organizations. Like unions. In this example of the bill’s definition of “certain organizations,” this means that teachers and other school workers must sign up for their union and pay for their membership fee themselves instead of consenting to join the union through their workplace and having membership fees deducted from their paychecks. This bill does not pertain to active law enforcement officers, jail and corrections officers, or active fire personnel.

Senate Bill 107 – This bill subjects the commissioner of education to senate confirmation upon appointment or reappointment, limits each term to four years, and prohibits ex-officio and non-voting members to be represented by proxy at any meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education.

Senate Bill 150 – This bill has three parts. First, the Kentucky Department of Education can no longer guide schools or districts related to the use of requested pronouns. The second part states that districts are required to ensure any child enrolled in the district does not receive any instruction or presentation that has a goal or purpose of students studying or exploring gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This third part of the bill states that districts must adopt policies to “not allow students to use restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms that are reserved for students of a different biological sex.” The third part of the bill does not change anything for Jessamine County Schools.