Friday, January 8, 2010

Reflections on the First Week of the Legislative Session

Over the years, as a local superintendent, I spent many hours at the state capitol building, capitol annex and in meetings with legislators. I thought I was very knowledgeable of the legislative process and the politics that surround legislation and funding. However, nothing quite prepared me for the rapid pace of the first week of the Kentucky legislative session.

One of the main reasons for the intense week was that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) asked for specific legislation to address low-achieving schools. The legislation will enable Kentucky to submit a stronger Race to the Top application for a possible $200 million and ensure Kentucky can access more than $50 million in Title I school improvement grant funds for FY 11-13.

Both the House and Senate have been wonderful to work with as we presented our need for fast-track legislation. The legislation started in the House, and a very informative meeting with the House Education Committee on January 7 led to the bill being passed out of committee and on to the full House for a vote on January 11.

I am most appreciative to the many House members, House leadership and especially Education Committee Chair Carl Rollins for the support. The support would not have happened without the time and energy given by KDE staff, the Jefferson County Teachers Association, the Boone County Teachers Association, the Kentucky Educators Association and superintendents from Jefferson and Boone counties. Also, many of our Kentucky partners that are working with us on the Race to the Top application have been very supportive, and they assisted with informing legislators with the need for this bill.

There were several other unique experiences this week. I attended my first State of the Commonwealth address given by Governor Steve Beshear and attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. I was very impressed with the chambers in the capitol. The design and workmanship of the building are very impressive. It is amazing to consider the tools that the workmen had to use when the building was built and the beauty and perfection of the craftsmanship. I think Kentucky has one of the most beautiful capitol buildings and Governor’s Mansions in the nation. During the holiday season, both buildings were especially beautiful with the decorations.

The pace of the week was exhausting, but very exhilarating. I am looking forward to many committee meetings and late-night strategy sessions and watching the legislative process take place. I am lucky to have a tremendous team at KDE to support this work and terrific partners for education that work well together to make a difference for the children of Kentucky.

You can keep up with the elementary and secondary legislation brought forth in the 2010 session by visiting the Legislative Research Commission’s Web site at

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