Education

Bowling Green High School principal Gary Fields has been chosen as the new superintendent of the Bowling Green city school district. The city’s board of education chose Fields last night from among four candidates to replace the retiring Joe Tinius. Fields starts July first.

Fields has been principal at Bowling Green High since 2002. Before that he was the principal of Potter Gray elementary school and a teacher at the high school.

He did his undergraduate work at Centre College, received his Master’s from U-K and his Rank One and Principal Certification from WKU.

The Board hopes to have a new principal at Bowling Green High by June 30th.

The Bowling Green Independent School District is close to naming its next superintendent.  The board of education is expected to make the announcement Monday night at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. 

The hiring follows interviews with four finalists, including Allen Barber from Eagle Point, Oregon, Bowling Green High School Principal Gary Fields, Hart County Assistant Superintendent Wesley Waddle, and Mark Owens, Director of Personnel for Daviess County Public Schools. 

Current Superintendent Joe Tinius is retiring June 30.

The search for a new president of Owensboro Community and Technical College  is down to three finalists. 

They include Dr. Larry Ferguson who is the interim vice chancellor of academic affairs in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 

Dr. William Rule comes from Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia where he serves as vice president of student affairs and technology advancement. 

Dr. Scott Williams serves as vice president of academic affairs for Owensboro Community and Technical College. 

The three finalists will be interviewed next week.  The new president of OCTC will start work on July 1.

University of Kentucky

Michael Lewis got fed up seeing his peers struggle with student debt—so he decided to do something about it.

Lewis, an 18-year-old from Louisville, and a small team of his fellow students at the University of Kentucky are preparing to launch a start-up that takes direct aim the nationwide issue of student debt.

The start-up, called FinanceU,will give prospective college students a platform to fund their own education through crowdsourcing.

“FinanceU (will be) available to any student who seeks to or is already trying affording higher education,” he said.

To use, FinanceU students will have to create an online profile, complete with hobbies, skills and interests. Then, the start-up will employ a three-tier crowdsourcing model.

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Board of Education is holding a special meeting to discuss hiring a new education commissioner.

The State Journal reports the board will meet Thursday morning in Louisville to discuss what characteristics they will seek as they begin a search to replace Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who is retiring at the end of August. Holliday has served in the position since 2009.

After the board drafts a list of characteristics, the public will have the opportunity to give feedback before the list is finalized.

In addition to drafting the characteristics, the board also plans to decide which firm will help with search efforts.

Kevin Willis

The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU is preparing to undergo a transformation that will sharply increase its population.

The academy has been given a financial gift from businessman Bill Gatton to expand the residence hall that houses the academy’s students. The renovation is needed because the academy is expanding its class size from 120 to 200 students this fall.

The academy is home to some of the top high school juniors and seniors in the state who take college courses for two years at WKU, and has been repeatedly ranked as the top high school in the nation.

Speaking at a ceremony Wednesday at WKU announcing the gift from Gatton, Governor Steve Beshear said the academy is a point of pride for the state.

“The Gatton Academy is a shining example of how our educators are preparing the next generation of highly-trained graduates. I’m proud that my last budget will allow another 80 students the opportunity to study in the nation’s best high school.”

Some Henderson County teachers will not be returning to the classroom next school year. 

Faced with a $6.7 million shortfall, the school system is cutting 80 positions.  Layoff notices are going out this week to teachers at every school, but district spokeswoman Julie Wisher says students should expect the same level of education.

"Our student-teacher ratio isn't going to increase over the maximum size allowed," Wisher tells WKU Public Radio.  "We have dedicated and passionate teachers that will continue to work toward excellence."

The budget deficit is largely blamed on personnel costs.  About 85 percent of the budget is spent on personnel.  The school system’s goal is to get that amount closer to 75 percent. 

While teachers will bear the brunt of the budget reductions, a few positions from the central office are also being eliminated.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell is expecting a list of recommendations from the school’s divisional leaders over how to reallocate $7.7 million.

The moves are needed for the school to pay its fixed costs and balance its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. In an email to faculty and staff Monday, Ransdell said declining state funding for higher education and a drop in enrollment have forced the school to act.

Ransdell said WKU was facing increased expenditures of $9.6 million related employee benefits, contractual obligations, and maintenance for new and expanded facilities. While a 3 percent tuition increase will create $4.3 million for the school, the actual benefit is only $1.9 million when enrollment decreases are factored in.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Tuesday, President Ransdell says the school’s vice-presidents have been given the ability to decide how to best handle the changes.

“I would say within the next month, all of those decisions will have been made about how each division will address its required reallocation.

An effort underway in Southern Indiana seeks to produce 10,000 college or technical degrees by 2020. 

The region has more than 40,000 adult workers with unfinished degrees. 

Bridgett Strickler heads a new initiative called Education Matters Southern Indiana.

"We know that working adults need an efficient path to a degree or certification because they're balancing work, life, and family obligations, Strickler tells WKU Public Radio.  "What we hope to do is bust the barriers for those adults by connecting them with opportunities for financial aid, scholarships, and programs they may not know about."

Research shows that only 25% of residents living in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington counties has an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree compared to 38% nationally. 

Strickler says by increasing the number of degree-holders, southern Indiana will have a better workforce and economy.

The Henderson County public school system is preparing to lay off teachers for next year. 

The exact number of positions affected is unknown, though cuts are planned at every school.

Public Information Officer Julie Wisher says the school system is over-staffed.

"What we've done is realign ourselves with the staffing formulas that are set out by the Kentucky Department of Education," adds Wisher.  "In the past we had gone over those formulas."

Wisher says the school district has also absorbed the cost of programs previously funded by grants. 

In order to balance next year’s budget, Henderson County schools must reduce expenses by $6.7 million. 

Official layoff notices will be going out at the end of next week.  The cuts are expected to affect only non-tenured staff.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education will meet in special session Thursday morning to discuss the budget and cost savings.

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