Boards of education would have the option of adding a high school student to a superintendent search committee under a measure being pursued in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 236 would have a student member elected by peers.

That students may not be a good fit for such a committee was among concerns raised in Frankfort and locally.

“I am concerned about the confidentiality aspect of a superintendent search committee,” Joe Tinius, superintendent of Bowling Green Independent School District, said Tuesday. 

A superintendent search committee includes two teachers, a principal, a classified employee, a school board member and a parent. 

This legislation, if approved, would not impact the search in progress for a superintendent of the city schools. Tinius will retire June 30 after 38 years with the city district, the last 10 as superintendent.

State Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, said the search committee bill could pass the House and he senses support for it. “It would be good to get the students’ perspective,” said Stone, who has served on superintendent search committees.

Leslie McCoy, communications director for the city district, said student involvement in the superintendent search process should occur, but maybe in a different way. Students might have input in putting together the priorities for the district to be expressed to a superintendent candidate, McCoy said.

There’s a concern the issues in the search process might overwhelm 16-, 17- or 18-year-olds, Tinius said.

Sahil Nair, a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence’s Student Voice Team and a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, testified in favor of the bill.

“Shouldn’t we at least be considered as partners at the decision-making table?” she asked the committee, according to a report Tuesday in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The Fayette County Board of Education wanted to put a student on its superintendent search committee in December but found state law doesn’t allow it, the Herald-Leader reported.

Phil Eason, a consultant at the Kentucky Association of School Administrators who heads Bowling Green district’s superintendent search, said Tuesday a student’s viewpoint may be found in the parent who serves on the search committee, or individuals on the committee who may have students in the district.

The bill is one of several involving public education being considered by the Kentucky House. The so-called “short session” of the General Assembly is past the halfway point.

There is House movement on both House Bill 449 and HB 236, both of which have reached the House floor after being passed out by the House Education Committee. 

HB 449 would allow a nonprofit company to be contracted by a failing school seeking to turn around academics. The school needs to be considered academically nonperforming for four consecutive years. The bill was approved Tuesday by the House Education Committee, along with HB 236, the superintendent search committee bill.

Bills mandating cardiopulmonary resuscitation programs for students (House Bill 249) and child abuse awareness training for all district staff (House Bill 301) are also being pursued in the House.

While the CPR training for students could easily be implemented in the Bowling Green district’s health curriculum, the child abuse awareness training is another unfunded mandate offered by the legislature, Tinius said.

The CPR program would not require the training to be provided by a certified instructor, but the instruction would be based on the American Heart Association’s guidelines for CPR and emergency cardiovascular care, according to the legislation.

The CPR bill also does not mandate placement of automated external defibrillators at every school, although it does add “having one available for emergencies is encouraged.”

State law already mandates training for suicide prevention and blood-borne pathogens, and the child abuse training would take away time already allotted for other training, McCoy said.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, lauded the House Education Committee’s passage of HB 301.

“HB 301 builds on previous legislative successes to ensure professionals who interact with children know how to recognize signs of child abuse and neglect,” Brooks said in a release.

Brooks said HB 301 would ensure teachers have the information they need to protect children from abuse.

— Follow education reporter Charles A. Mason on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnschools or visit bgdailynews.com.

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