Education

Kentucky teenagers and administrators are bracing themselves for a new state dropout law that will go into effect on July 1 in most school districts.

The dropout age is being raised from 16 to 18, meaning some students who legally left the education system will now have to return to school.

17-year-old dropouts say it is pointless to make them return because they plan on dropping out again upon their next birthday. Administrators, meanwhile, are not relishing the new task of trying to track down the juveniles and bring them back.

   Newport Independent Schools administrator Mike Wills says the law will be hard to enforce. Aside from filing charges and taking a student or the student's parents to court, there's not much recourse for districts, he says.

WKU

Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Carol Martin "Bill" Gatton to be a lifetime honorary trustee of the University of Kentucky, where Gatton is the largest single donor.

Gatton has given more than $45 million to his alma mater, including $20 million for a new student center. That gift is the largest in UK's history. The Carol Martin Gatton Academy for Mathmatics and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University is named in his honor.

Gatton's last term as a trustee ends this month. Honorary status makes him a non-voting member of the board.

Beshear said the designation would allow the board to continue to benefit from Gatton's "wisdom, counsel and guidance."

Bowling Green Independent School District

Bowling Green High School has named William King as its new principal. 

King had been serving as the Freshman Principal of Bowling Green High for the past five years.  Before that, he spent three years as the school’s Literacy Coach and Curriculum Coordinator and five years as a social studies teacher. 

King is a graduate himself of Bowling Green High.  He holds Bachelor's, Master's and Rank 1 degrees from WKU.

King replaces former principal Gary Fields who was promoted to superintendent of city schools.

WKU

WKU has picked its next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations.

Marc Archambault will join WKU August 17, and take over the post previously held by Kathryn Costello, who is transitioning into a different position at the school.

Archambault currently serves as head of development and alumni at Utah Valley University, and has previously held positions at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California; Purdue University; and the University of Houston.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Monday, Archambault  said he’ll be working this summer to meet as many WKU stakeholders as possible.

“One of the first important steps is a listening tour, and collecting as much data as I can while I try to master the financial and budgetary landscape in which I’ll be working.”

Archambault  will also serve as President of the WKU Foundation, and will lead the school’s next capital campaign.

“It is early, of course, and I think at this stage we would really describe it as exploring a future campaign. It’s something President Ransdell and the leadership feel passionate about.”

Archambault holds a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences and English from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

KCTCS

Pay raises are on tap for employees of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 

The Board of Regents approved a new budget of $888,114, 300 during it's quarterly meeting on Friday at Hopkinsville Community College. 

The spending plan represents a $36 million reduction from the previous year due to a decline in state funding, the decision not to raise tuition, and a decrease in enrollment. 

“I applaud President Box and the board for their commitment to keeping education affordable by not raising tuition for 2015-16,” said KCTCS Board of Regents Chair P.G. Peeples in a news release. “Despite these belt-tightening times we cannot continue to place the burden of decreased state support on the backs of our students.”

The budget does allow a one percent or $1,000 salary increase, whichever is greater, for full-time faculty and staff.

WKU

A recent WKU graduate from Lexington has won the 2015 Hearst National Multimedia championship.

Adam Wolfbrandt received his photojournalism degree last month, and is the first WKU student to win the Hearst Multimedia title, along with a $5,000 award.

The Hearst awards are considered the “Pulitzers of college journalism”, and are given annually to students for excellence in the fields of photojournalism, writing, radio, television, and multimedia.

WKU students have won the Hearst photojournalism title 11 times, and the Hearst national writing championship and radio news championship one time each.

The Anderson County Adult Education Center is empty on a Thursday afternoon, except for a receptionist, a teacher and the director.

Two years ago, every table in the small classroom might be filled, said Jerry Shaw, the center’s director.

He’d have trouble just walking across the room.

“Every age group, every stage of the test. There were days where it was slow, but that was unusual. Now the days that are slow are the usual,” Shaw said.

The situation is playing out across the state.

The number of Kentuckians passing the General Educational Development test, or GED, has dropped by 85 percent in the last two years, according to the state’s adult education program.

During the 2013 fiscal year, 8,890 students earned GED diplomas.

The current fiscal year ends this month. So far the state has issued only 1,351 diplomas.

Lance Dennee/WKMS

The results are in from a biennial survey that asks Kentucky teachers about the state of teaching and learning in the commonwealth.

A record 89.3 percent of certified educators responded to the voluntary Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Survey, administered by the New Teacher Center.

Overall, the survey shows teachers are more positive than two years ago, with 87.9 percent of teachers calling their school a good place to work and learn. That’s compared to 85.2 percent in 2013.

Some of the topics included in the survey are time, school leadership, teacher leadership, facilities and resources, professional development, community engagement and student conduct.

“Time” was the least positive category in the survey, though it, too, showed improvement over 2013’s survey. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they feel there's enough instructional time to meet the needs of all students. That's up from 68.6 percent in 2013.

Kevin Willis

A group of WKU students is spending the next two weeks in the Great Plains tracking severe storms and dangerous weather patterns.

WKU Meteorology Professor Josh Durkee is taking eight students to a part of the country that is often hit by tornados and other storms this time of the year. He says the class is an opportunity for participants to collect and analyze weather data that are used to predict where storms will next appear.

“The most common phrase I hear students say is, ‘I learned more in two weeks that I have in two years.’ That’s because it takes a lot of the stuff we have been learning about in the classroom and they get to see it in real-time, and they get to put their hands on it.”

Durkee says the students taking his annual Field Methods in Weather Analysis and Forecasting course are never in danger and stay at least five miles away from the storms they are tracking. The class travels throughout the Midwest and Great Plains regions to learn more about how to predict how and when severe weather will impact the area.

Metcalfe County native and graduating senior Tori Hampton has been looking forward to taking the class for years. She says experiencing a tornado at the age of five fueled a passion to learn more about storms.

KCTCS

Owensboro Community and Technical College didn’t go far in naming its new president. 

Dr. Scott Williams takes the helm after spending the past 15 years at the campus.  He is currently vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer, a position he has held since 2008. 

“Dr. Williams will be an excellent leader for OCTC,” said Dr. Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “We are fortunate he already has great knowledge and experience within our system and his vision and ideas will lead to the continued success of the college.”

Williams will begin his new appointment July 1.

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