FRANKFORT, Ky. — State lawmakers are pushing to change how members of the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) are selected. The 11 voting members of the board are currently appointed by the sitting governor. 

What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 8 would make the 14 voting members of the Kentucky Board of Education elected into office by voters 

  • State Senate Majority Whip Mike Wilson said he believes this will take the so-called "politicization" out of the selection process 

  • Currently, 11 voting members are chosen by the sitting governor 

  • Under Wilson's proposal, members would serve staggered four-year terms

In response to the current process, State Senate Majority Whip Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, introduced Senate Bill 8: a bill that would make the KBE elected on by voters. SB 8 would make the 14 voting members of the board elected by the people. 

Two members of the KBE would be elected from each of the state’s seven Supreme Court districts, running in partisan primary and general elections. Wilson's proposal would split the seven Supreme Court districts into two divisions, with the first election occuring in November 2026.

Those elected would serve staggered four-year terms. Republicans have criticized the governor-appointed process since 2019 after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) overhauled the board on his first day in office and sat idle on two appointments to the board until last fall.

The goal is to remove what Wilson calls "politicization" of the board and the Kentucky Department of Education, he said. 

"It was set up specifcially outside of the governor's office and not be a part of his cabinet, so it wouldn't have that necessary political influence over it," he said. "This removes that political influence ... and brings it back to the people."

Candidates would be nominated from the Supreme Court district where they live. The first elected board members would be selected in the same year as legislators.

Wilson’s bill also allows members to be removed from their role. Members can be removed from their duties by a vote of five other members for misconduct, incapacity or willful neglect. Removing a board member would require two-thirds of the board's approval and a public hearing. 

“Right now, they seem to be only accountable to the governor because he appoints them," Wilson said. "We want to make them accountable to the people who actually have their kids in their schools." 

Candidates could not have served on a local school board four years prior to their election. They must be at least 30 years old, hold at minimum an associate’s degree and have lived in Kentucky for three years.

The KBE also sent Spectrum News 1 a statement reading the following:

“In 2021, the Kentucky General Assembly made important changes to the appointment requirements for the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) to ensure the membership more closely represents the composition of the Commonwealth in gender, race and political affiliation. The current board reflects these changes, and the positive effect of this shift is evident in the valuable and unique perspective each member brings to the KBE.

Additionally, the Kentucky Department of Education appreciates the importance of maintaining stability within the KBE’s membership and is in discussion with legislative leaders to explore ways to further support this goal.”