August 26 2013

Published: 9/4/2013 11:00 AM
As part of our effort to streamline communications and cut down on the number of e-mails you receive, here is a Monday E-Mail that combines several items into one communication.
 
Please read the Monday E-mail as it contains information about the following KDE-related items:
• FY 2014 Grant Allocations
• Legal guidance on religion in schools
• Don’t Forget Communication with School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils
• All students welcome to apply for the 2013-14 Next-Generation Student Council
• PGES Webcasts
• New Requirements for CDL Physicals
• Kentucky Teacher features on Districts of Innovation and Collaborating for CTE
 
Also, take a look at the items under the section titled “Items from Outside Agencies”.
 
If you have questions about the specific items, please see the contact information for each item.
 
Items from KDE
 
FY 2014 Grant Allocations
Federal and state tentative grant allocations for FY 2014 have been revised.  Please review the spreadsheet entitled “FY2013-2014 Grant Allocations” under the Federal Grant Page or the State Grant Page at http://education.ky.gov/districts/fin/Pages/Grant%20Information.aspx.  Award notifications have also been posted to the webpage.  Please note some of the allocations are now marked “Final”.  This information will be updated through the fiscal year as appropriate.
 
Legal guidance on religion in schools
In light of the recent increase in news stories as well as district inquiries regarding Bible distribution/recent ACLU letter to districts, we provided the legal analysis below to KSBA for distribution to local board counsel. We want you to be aware of this guidance to ensure the public schools of our state are following the federal law and respecting the rights of all students.
 
Please contact Amy Peabody, amy.peabody@education.ky.gov with any questions.
 
Guidance provided to KSBA
As you know, the U.S. Constitution forbids public school officials from directing or favoring prayer, and the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer. Accordingly, the Establishment Clause forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government, but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals, such as students. The Kentucky Constitution also includes similar provisions.
 
The KDE bases its recommendations regarding religion in the classroom on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Establishment Clause of the U. S. Constitution that limits the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity, including prayer. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in this area, including decisions by the 6th Circuit (specifically applying to Kentucky schools) are very clear that public school officials may not endorse religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities or during school sponsored events.
 
School officials who persist in allowing or sanctioning religious activities that are not allowable under the directives of the U.S. Constitution or that mirror specific U.S. Supreme Court cases run the risk of exposing their school districts to costly litigation.
 
Regarding distribution of religious material:
School district administrators, principals and teachers should not participate in the distribution of religious materials, including permitting religious groups to have classroom time to distribute materials.  Students are generally permitted to distribute religious materials so long as it is done between classes, at recess, or during free time and so long as the students aren’t simply acting as agents for adults in doing so.  While the distribution of Gideon Bibles in classrooms by either Gideon members or school officials was once commonplace in schools throughout the country, the practice has been ruled unconstitutional by multiple federal courts and is generally accepted to be an unconstitutional practice. If a district wants to consider allowing the distribution of religious material by outside groups to students while at school, this should be done in consultation with board counsel upon thorough research of the federal law on this issue and with the understanding that the policy will result in the mandated allowance of the distribution of all religious groups’ material to students and no discretion or denial of a request to distribute can occur. The KDE therefore strongly recommends and advises school districts to adhere to the complete prohibition on the distribution of religious material to students at public schools (or during ingress or egress from school) to ensure adherence to the federal law’s requirements and to reduce the likelihood of costly litigation.
 
Regarding prayer:
Teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible or other religious activities. They also are prohibited from encouraging or discouraging prayer, from “witnessing” and from actively participating in such activities with students. Prohibitions also extend to local board of education meetings and other public forums such as sporting events.  Such conduct is "attributable to the State" and thus violates the Establishment Clause.
 
School officials may not mandate or organize prayer at graduation or other school-sponsored events or select speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech such as prayer. School officials may not mandate or organize religious ceremonies.
 
As an example, in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, the Supreme Court invalidated a school's football game speaker policy on the ground that it was designed by school officials to result in pregame prayer, thus favoring religious expression over secular expression.
 
Nothing in the Constitution prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during or after the school day, and students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech. If a school has a "minute of silence" or other quiet periods during the school day, students are free to pray silently, or not to pray, during these periods of time. Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.
 
Students also may organize prayer groups, religious clubs and "see you at the pole" gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups.
 
More information regarding the boundaries of religious speech and schools can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html, which states regarding this issue:
 
Teachers, Administrators, and other School Employees
When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the state, teachers, school administrators, and other school employees are prohibited by the Establishment Clause from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students. Teachers may, however, take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities. Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities. Similarly, teachers may participate in their personal capacities in privately sponsored baccalaureate ceremonies.”
 
Regarding prayer at a meeting of the local board of education, a 1999 6th Circuit court case, Coles v. Cleveland Board of Education, 171 F.3d 369 (6th Cir. 1999), the practice of opening a school board meeting with a prayer was held to violate the Establishment Clause.
 
Don’t Forget Communication with School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils
With the release of School Report Cards at the end of September and an October deadline for setting KRS 158.649 Gap targets in ASSIST, we realize it is a quick turnaround.  Our belief is that schools and SBDM Councils will have been reviewing the data as it has been released,  are looking at the targets already projected in the School Report Card for 2013-14 and are beginning to have the discussions in council meetings about the data and information that will be included in the October 1 information in ASSIST.  Councils are instrumental in assuring that the targets and the work being done in the school are aligned.  The information in ASSIST can continuously change if you want to set higher targets and certainly if you have strategy changes you wish to make over the course of the fall as you address student needs.
 
The work of the SBDM Council is crucial to ensuring that the Consolidated School Improvement Plan (CSIP) is not just another document, but the way we do work.  All administrators at all levels need to ensure that the SBDM Council has access to all information about CSIP and CDIP available at http://education.ky.gov/school/csip/Pages/default.aspx, which we keep updated with the latest information.  Questions on this matter may be directed to csipdsip@education.ky.gov.
 
All students welcome to apply for the 2013-14 Next-Generation Student Council
The commissioner’s Next-Generation Student Council is now accepting applications. This group meets with the commissioner and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff, both in person and virtually, to discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Kentucky and provide feedback -- from a student perspective -- on critical issues impacting Kentucky students and schools.
 
The Next-Generation Student Council is a year-long program for Kentucky public school students in grades 10-12. The council seeks students with refreshing ideas and thoughtful insight into how we can further improve our schools and student achievement. All students are encouraged to apply so that the diverse academic, geographic, demographic and school-size variables particular to our state are represented.
 
Students can click here to access the application and read Frequently Asked Questions about the council. Please read the FAQs prior to completing the application. The deadline to apply is Aug. 30, 2013. Applications with a postmark date on or before Aug. 30 will be considered.
 
A committee of KDE representatives will review and score all applications based on how well the applicants communicated their ideas and goals. The committee will then select six students to serve on the 2013-14 council alongside the five returning student council members.
 
Questions? Contact Stephanie Siria at stephanie.siria@education.ky.gov or (502) 564-2000, ext. 4614.
 
PGES Webcasts
The next Professional Growth and Effectiveness System webcast will air on August 28 at 3 p.m. ET.  The topic of this webcast will be the PGES Statewide Implementation Expectations (without consequences). PGES webcasts will be held monthly throughout the 2013-14 school year. District leadership is strongly encouraged to view the webcasts and share the information with employees in preparation for full implementation of the system in 2014-15.  All webcasts will be archived on the KDE website one day after airing.
 
New Requirements for CDL Physicals
Please be advised that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, within the US Department of Transportation, has issued updated federal guidance that goes into effect May 21, 2014 regarding who can perform CDL physicals. Operators of commercial motor vehicles will experience more restrictive physical requirements. 
 
CDL physicals will have to be performed by medical professionals who are certified through the US Department of Transportation and qualify for the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Due to the new requirements, the cost for CDL physicals will no doubt increase.  The cost for commercial operators who smoke will be higher than the cost for nonsmokers. Smokers may be subject to numerous additional required tests.  Please also keep in mind that under Kentucky state law (SB 114 as passed by the 2013 General Assembly) amended the state CDL school bus endorsement requirement (KRS 281A.175) to include chiropractors in the definition of “medical examiner”, which makes this consistent with federal law.
 
Please communicate with any local medical professionals (which can now include those individuals who meet the definition of “medical examiner” in federal regulation 49 CFR pt. 390) who have previously or are now interested in performing CDL physicals for your school district to see if they plan to be on the national registry by May 21, 2014.  We also recommend inquiring about the revised pricing for these physicals, before entering into any contractual arrangement.
 
More information about medical professionals who qualify to take the training to be on the National Registry is available on the following web page:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=390.103.   Additional information about the National Registry including timelines for implementation is available at the following link:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/final/National-Registry-of-Certified-Medical-Examiners.aspx
 
If you have questions concerning CDL physicals for school bus drivers, please contact Cheri Meadows, cheri.meadows@education.ky.gov or (502)564-5279 x4451, or Roy Prince at roy.prince@education.ky.gov or (502)564-5279 x 4420.
 
Kentucky Teacher - Districts of Innovation; Collaborating for CTE
Kentucky Teacher, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) award-winning online publication, is the place to go to stay abreast of what is happening in Kentucky’s public schools. Kentucky Teacher includes education news, feature articles that highlight successful classroom practice, helpful resources and more.
 
Here’s a look at what’s coming in Kentucky Teacher the week of August 26:
• Learn about the first Districts of Innovation and their plans for reinventing the school and classroom experience for their students. The focus is on finding new ways of learning and helping students become college- and career-ready.
• One of the basic principles of highly effective teaching is collaboration. Find out how career and technical education instructors are combining their knowledge and skills with content area teachers to create engaging lessons for students.
Make sure you don’t miss anything in Kentucky Teacher by signing up to receive e-mail updates whenever new stories or features are added. Rest assured, we won’t share your e-mail address.
 
We want to hear from you too, so send your comments, feedback or story suggestions to us at kyteacher@education.ky.gov or post your comments online.
 
Kentucky Teacher is produced by KDE’s Division of Communications.

Items from Outside Agencies
 
PLEASE NOTE: Inclusion of items in this section does not constitute endorsement by the Kentucky Department of Education or the Commissioner of Education.
 
Book Fair Travel Grant
The Kentucky Book Fair, Inc. invites you to apply for a library travel grant provided by Graviss’ McDonald’s and proceeds from the 2012 Kentucky Book Fair.  The grant is established to help finance travel for school and public library groups to Children’s Day on Friday, November 15, 2013. Minimum grants will be $250 and maximum grants will be $1,000 per application approved. The application deadline is SEPTEMBER 18, 2013. The Committee reserves the right to award amounts at its discretion within these guidelines. Since the inception of the Book Fair in 1981, more than $350,000 has been awarded to Kentucky libraries.
 
Each year approximately 150 authors are present to autograph copies of their latest books.  Our 32-year history shows that as many as 4,000 patrons attend annually and purchase over $100,000 in gross sales. For further information, check out:  http://kybookfair.blogspot.com/.
 
We also look forward to seeing you on Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16, 2013 at the Frankfort Convention Center.  Admission is free and the hours are from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
 
To submit an application, complete the attached form and submit six copies by September 18, 2013 to:
Grants Committee
Kentucky Book Fair, Inc.
Box 715
Frankfort, KY 40602-0715
 
Applications will be judged based on statement of need, project description, and proposed use of the grant.  The Board of Directors reserves the right to award amounts at its discretion, using the above guidelines.
 
School councils’ annual conference
The Kentucky Association of School Councils’ annual conference will be held September 24-25 in Louisville.  Register here.
 
Just added -- Principal Leadership Workshop, Monday, Sept. 23, noon – 2 p.m.  Everything you need to know about SBDM, including, law, policy, election, personnel, meetings and assessment.
 
Pre-conference sessions September 23rd, choose from:
• higher-level multiple choice or
• higher-level thinking and learning - closing the gap for all students
 
Conference session highlights:
• break-out sessions from the four Districts of Innovation
• assessment update with KDE's Ken Draut and/or Rhonda Sims
• lessons learned from the Gatton Academy
• budgeting for innovation with Buddy Berry
• meeting the needs of kindergartners
• CIITS (Continuous Instructional Improvement System) KDE & Pulaski Co.
• 20 high performing schools in all content areas
• program reviews with KDE's Rae McEntyre
• schools making impressive improvement
• college- and career-ready
• specific sessions for SBDM credit if needed
 
Keynote speaker: Buddy Berry, Superintendent of Eminence Independent Schools:  School on F.I.R.E. (Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education)
 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. art and essay contests
Wednesday, August 28 is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I have a dream…” speech. Building upon Dr. King’s passion and leadership, the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment offers students a chance to creatively express ways to work together to generate opportunities to better themselves and society as a whole with art and essay contests.
 
Students should reflect on Dr. King’s legacy of service to explore innovative approaches to rise and reach desired goals. Entries should be inspired by a Dr. King moment or speech and how it has influenced the student’s thoughts on the theme: Opportunities to Rise: Building Bridges.
 
Essays
• open to all Kentucky school students in grades 4-12
• must be 500 words or less on standard 8-1/2” x 11” white paper with 1” margins, double spaced, and in no creative font (Arial and or/New Times Roman are recommended).
• Videos, films, drawings, etc. will not be accepted.
• All writing entries will be judged on the criteria listed in the Kentucky Writing Scoring Rubric: purpose, awareness of audience, idea development, organization (sentence structure and transitions), language, and correctness
• First, second and third place winners will be selected in categories for elementary (4th -5th grades), middle and high school.  Each winner will receive a plaque for competing in this year’s contest.
 
Artwork
• All K-12 students are eligible to participate
• Entries must be accompanied by completed work sample index.
• If the return of the CD or DVD is desired, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which the disk will fit.
• All visual art and media entries will be judged on creativity and originality; artwork reflects a unique style or expression; artwork addresses the theme of the contest. The selection will be based solely on the artwork; no written essay is required. 
• First, second and third place winners will be selected in two-dimensional and media arts categories for elementary, middle and high school.  Each winner will receive a plaque for competing in this year’s contest. Each winner will receive a plaque for competing in this year’s contest.
 
Entries must include:
• Student’s name, address, and grade level
• Parent’s name and home phone number
• School district, school name, and school telephone number
• Teacher’s name
 
Deadline: ALL entries must be received (not postmarked) in the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment no later than close of business on Friday, November 8, 2013. Students should mail or deliver entries to:
 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest –2014
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 138
Frankfort, KY 40601
 
If you have any questions, please contact the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment at 502-564-2611, ext. 370 or www.ome.ky.gov.
 
The Kentucky Civil Rights Database provided by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Oral History Commission may be used as an additional resource.
 
Academic team coaches’ conference
Are your staff members registered for the KAAC Conference for Academic Team Coaches, Sept. 12-14, 2013 at the Galt House in Louisville?
 
At the conference, your coaches can receive the mandatory training they need to coach Governor’s Cup, Sixth Grade Showcase, or JV Challenge. They can also choose from more than 25 breakouts, in which the most successful coaches in the Commonwealth share techniques and strategies that have brought them success.
 
The KAAC Conference is the most cost-effective way to help your staff build a successful academic team program, which will assist you in your efforts to promote a culture of academic excellence in your school!
 
For more information, visit http://kaac.com/conference/.
 
Social studies field trip opportunity
Fort Boonesborough will have a special school day this season on September 20, 2013, preceding the weekend reenactment of the 1778 Siege of Boonesborough.  Students will tour the fort, and visit camps of re-enactors who portray settlers, hunters, scouts, Native Americans, and others.  Our current plan based on availability of participants, is to have a reenactment of the Siege on Friday at 11:30 a. m. for school groups. 
 
We invite you to bring your students to the fort on Friday, September 20, to have a close look at frontier life and learn about this very important event in the history of Kentucky.  Regular group admission rates apply, as there will be no additional charge for School Day.  Rates are $3.00 per student; all teachers and bus drivers are free. Any additional adults are $6.00 each at the group rate.
 
Space will be limited, so please schedule your classes as soon as possible. For more information, or to schedule your students, please call 859-527-3131 x 216
 
KOHS Voice Now Available
Please enjoy the latest edition of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety newsletter – the KOHS Voice at  http://transportation.ky.gov/Highway-Safety/Newsletters/KOHS-Voice-AugSept-2013.pdf.