Attendance at some schools in our listening area could be light today and tomorrow--but not because of weather.
The Kentucky Boys Sweet 16 basketball tournament gets underway Wednesday in Lexington, and many students from participating schools will be at Rupp Arena, as opposed to the classroom.
Bowling Green High School plays its first round game tomorrow afternoon against Knott County Central. Bowling Green High Principal Gary Fields says his school system understands that attending the tournament is a great experience for students.
"We didn't want to dismiss school, so what we're doing is if a student buys a ticket and travels with their parents or family friends, then they are excused from school that day. It is an absence. We're required to count them absent, but it's an excused absence," Fields told WKU Public Radio.
Fields says calling off school wasn't an option, especially since Bowling Green has missed five days already due to winter weather. Several county school systems in our region have missed a dozen or more days.
Dr. Michio Kaku talks with WKU Public Radio prior to his appearance at Van Meter Hall.
Dr. Michio Kaku has devoted much of his life to studying the human brain. He's a co-founder of String Field Theory. He says the new brain mapping project, when complete, will be the most important scientific study since the Human Genome project.
The theoretical physicist and author was the featured speaker at WKU's Cultural Enhancement Series Monday night.
Dr. Kaku says the new revelations about the brain could help doctors treat mental illness and restore memories to those with Alzheimer's Disease. He says technology now exists to record the dreams and thoughts inside someone's head.
The superintendent of Barren County Schools says he would be willing to consider the idea of year-round school.
The concept has come up recently following several episodes of harsh winter weather that led many school systems to cancel classes over a dozen times.
Barren County Superintendent Bo Matthews says it might be a good idea to think about officially shortening the summer break, since it is often gets impacted by make-up days caused by bad weather.
"The summer break, if you will, continues to get smaller if you look at school calendars around the state,” Matthews told WKU Public Radio. “So, in some respects, it wouldn't be a stretch to see us begin to creep further into the month of June."
Barren County has missed 16 days this school year due to bad winter weather. Lawrence County has missed 32.
The full House will vote on legislation to allow local school districts to shorten their instructional calendar by up to ten days. The measure is being promoted as a way for schools to deal with a higher-than-normal number of snow days. Dry Ridge Representative Brian Linder says educators in his home community realize it often takes a while for bills to become laws.
“I told them I would bring the urgency that we need to make sure that we get this pushed through as quickly as possible so they can get their schedule figured out,” said Linder.
Bill sponsor John Will Stacey says school districts will not lose state funds, if they opt to reduce their calendars by one to ten days. Still, Richmond Representative Rita Smart has some concerns.
“Is it fair for districts that don’t take as many days that other districts are gonna take those ten days?,” asked Smart.
Kentucky public school students would not have to make up as many as 10 canceled school days under a proposal in the House budget.
State law requires public schools to have a minimum of 170 days and 1,062 hours of classroom instruction. But 31 of the state's 173 school districts have missed at least 20 days because of snow and ice, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Lawrence County School District in eastern Kentucky was one of the hardest hit. Superintendent Mike Armstrong said the district has missed 32 days so far. In January, students were in school just five days.
House lawmakers are considering a separate bill that would let school districts lengthen the school day to make up missed time because of an emergency.
A check of school districts in our listening area reveals Warren and Hardin County schools have missed 13 days a piece, while Daviess County schools have missed 14 full days.
Senator David Givens says he understands that some people may get the wrong idea when they hear about legislation he is proposing concerning computer science and foreign language classes.
A bill Givens is sponsoring in the Kentucky General Assembly would allow computer programming courses to count towards a high school student’s foreign language requirements. The measure also ensures that computer programming language courses be accepted as meeting foreign language requirements for admission to public postsecondary institutions.
The Green County Republican insists that he doesn’t have anything against students learning a foreign language. He says his bill is simply a response to an increasing demand in today’s job market.
“We have a shortage of computer programmers in the United States,” the Green County Republican said while sitting in his office at the state capitol in Frankfort. “By the year 2020, the projection is that we will have one-million unfilled computer programming jobs. So the challenge is how do we, in Kentucky, provide opportunities for students and flexibility for schools to be able to take advantage of that, of those job opportunities.”
A Henderson County program that helps troubled high school students turn their lives around is getting statewide attention because of its success rate.
Since the Center for Youth Justice Services opened a year and a half ago at Henderson County High School, it has served about 130 students and cut down the number referred to court. The center offers services for behavioral, family and school-related problems.
Student Le-Onta Carey told The Gleaner that the center gave her the support and resources she needed to turn her life around. She says last year, she was struggling in classes and on the path to court. Now, she has clear goals and direction.
Steve Steiner, who is director of pupil personnel at Henderson County schools, says there is interest in expanding the program to other schools.
The Kentucky House has overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring teachers to be paid for a minimum of 120 minutes a week for non-teaching activities.
Bill sponsor Rita Smart says having adequate planning time in the daily schedule seems to be a bigger issue for elementary teachers.
“But, what we found that almost all high school and middle school teachers get more than that, many high school teachers get an hour, 60 minutes, but elementary teachers were not getting, in some districts no planning time," the Richmond Democrat said.
The bill sets out the daily allotted time to be a minimum of 24 minutes. The measure, which goes on to the Senate, passed by a vote of 85 to 8 on Friday.
The Warren County school district and the Bowling Green school system remain at odds over a student transfer agreement.
The county school board has rejected the city’s latest proposal to cut the number of non-resident students over a ten-year period. The county wants to keep more of its students and the state funding that comes with them.
Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton told WKU Public Radio that he also didn’t like the city's plan to allow transfers on a first-come, first serve basis.
“The board feels that the process needs to be the most transparent, efficient, and equitable process available and it’s the board’s conclusion that a random draw meets this criteria the best," said Clayton.
Negotiations between the two districts began in last September and went into mediation this month. Clayton said he felt that now is the time to appeal to Kentucky’s Education Commissioner.
“We’re coming to the point where a timely resolution is critical," Clayton added. "Both school districts need to have the opportunity to plan and prepare for the 2014-15 school year, but more importantly, the families in this community need a resolution so they can plan and prepare for the upcoming school year, as well.”
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday can either make a ruling or recommend a hearing take place similar to the one the school systems took part in last summer.
The Bowling Green Independent School District Monday night introduced new elements in their ongoing negotiations with the Warren County School District over the number of non-city residents who can attend city schools.
The school systems don't have an agreement about how many county-resident students the city will accept, and are trying to reach a contract under orders from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.
The Bowling Green Daily News reports the city's plan includes a reduction from 750 non-resident students to 650 over ten years. Non-resident students would be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Siblings of students would be admitted, 60% of the remaining spots would be filled by kindergarteners based on application date, and the final 40% on grades 1 - 12 based on date of application.
The non-resident agreement is key to a school district receiving Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding for out-of-district students.