Kentucky’s education leaders are getting behind the latest push for casino gambling. Legislation has already been filed for the 2014 General Assembly.
The Kentucky School Boards Association recently voiced its support for letting voters decide whether to allow expanded gaming. KSBA Spokesman Brad Hughes says education has lost tens of millions of dollars since 2008.
"We have textbooks that have zero funding right now, preschool has been cut dramatically, teacher training has been cut dramatically, so the revenues are needed," insisted Hughes.
The School Boards Association also believes that until casino gambling is given an up or down vote, the state won’t seek out other means of new revenue. Hughes is quite certain tax reform won’t come in 2014.
"Everybody agrees there's the probability of increasing state revenue by modernizing the tax code, but it is an election year, and what we're hearing isn't very positive," he added.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will ask lawmakers next year for 300 million dollars more than what’s in the current budget.
A published report says many school districts across the state are giving modest increases to superintendents, but some have boosted pay by double digits.
An analysis by The Courier-Journal found that about 30 of the state's 173 school districts increased superintendents' pay by at least 15 percent from 2009-2013. The average pay raise in that time span was 3.7 percent. The review found that 49 districts reduced pay for superintendents.
The larger pay increases were defended by advocates for administrators, who said the competition for good leaders is intense.
Critics say the pay hikes are hard to justify at a time when state funding for education has decreased, prompting cuts in other areas.
A group of education organizations will meet in Lexington Thursday to prepare for their campaign to better fund public education in Kentucky.
Stu Silberman, the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, says it's the first time the various groups that make up the Kentucky Education Action Team will rally around a single message
“Each group will a lot of times go in with their individual legislative agendas and they don’t always match up. So the legislators sometimes feel like, well you all don’t even know what you want.”
The Prichard Committee is one of several education groups that will participate in the fall summit, where members will discuss the funding requests being made. Silberman says representatives will take the information back to their regions and develop an action plan to reach community members and lawmakers.
The group will be asking for over $250 million dollars over the next two-year budget to restore funding levels to the 2008 school year.
After 16 years at the helm, Dr. Michael McCall says he will retire in January 2015 as president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
“I have been privileged to work with a dedicated Board, outstanding cabinet, committed college presidents along with extraordinary faculty and staff,” McCall said. “Together we have built a comprehensive two-year college system that is the envy of the nation. I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished to enhance the educational attainment in the state.
The Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 created KCTCS by joining the 14 community colleges of the University of Kentucky with the 15 technical schools in the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet.
McCall’s first challenge was to consolidate the 29 separate schools into 16 comprehensive community and technical colleges.
“Dr. McCall’s achievements as president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System are only outweighed by his commitment to improving the quality and access to education for all Kentuckians—despite their age, economic status or geographic location,” said Governor Beshear.
Under his leadership, KCTCS has become the place where higher education begins for many Kentuckians. A press release from the system says nearly half of the state’s postsecondary education students are enrolled in a KCTCS school.
Dr. McCall will stay on as president of KCTCS until a successor is found.