Education

At their regular meeting Monday night, the Warren County school board voted to appeal, for the fourth time, a ruling by the Kentucky Board of Education concerning the on-going non-resident student dispute with the Bowling Green school district.

In a press release sent out after the meeting, Superintendent Rob Clayton said the vote was really a technicality. He said it doesn't necessarily mean any more legal action will be taken just yet but it gives them that option should upcoming mandated mediation between the two school boards fail.

A Jefferson County Public Schools teacher has filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System over its lack of funding.

Plaintiff and DuPont Manual High School teacher Randolph Wieck says the system that supports over 140,000 teachers in Kentucky is at least $20 billion dollars in debt.

“We have raced to the bottom and we’re neck and neck with the worst funded teachers plan in the country," commented Wieck.

The KTRS pension is funded at around 50 percent. Both the Federal Government Accounting Office and the rating service Standard and Poor’s show Kentucky’s pension system is not sustainable.

The state legislature is not poised to discuss budget issues during the 2015 general assembly, but Wieck says Kentucky is violated its duty to keep the pension system solvent.

The latest pension report is expected to be released in the next couple of weeks.

The Kentucky Department of Education is receiving $8.1 million through a five year federal grant to help teachers, schools and communities recognize and respond to mental health problems in young people.

The Department says the program will be first piloted in three school districts including Pulaski County public schools. A grant was also awarded to the Henderson County school district.

The state education department says the program will focus on two elements. The first will provide local communities with increased access to school and community based mental health services. The second will involve training school personnel, first responders and others to recognize mental health needs of young people.

The Kentucky Department of Education is asking for feedback on proposed standards for social studies and arts and humanities.

The Herald-Leader reports Kentuckians can register their thoughts through December 5.

The proposed changes are a result of legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2009 that required the state to update academic content standards in all subjects.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative. New English and math standards have been in place since 2011, followed by a new science curriculum.

If approved, the new social studies and arts and humanities standards would be introduced during the 2015-16 school year.

Those interested in reviewing the proposed standards and offering feedback can do so by clicking on these links:

WKU

WKU is hoping to attract those over the age of 50 to a new organization that will offer classes ranging from financial planning to art history.

The Society for Lifelong Learning at WKU will begin offering non-credit courses next March, with the curriculum largely based on member input. The WKU group is modeling its efforts on more than 500 other lifelong learning institutes throughout the country.

Society member Frank Kersting says many of those surveyed indicated they would like to take classes that help explain major events and issues they’ve faced during their lifetimes.

“We found that individuals here would like to have courses that reflect their generation. So a lot of the classes will deal with who we were, back when we were younger.”

Kersting says the classes will not involve grades or papers, and are intended to be pressure-free.  

“We are not only going to offer courses every semester that address a variety of interests that individuals over 50 have, but also provide a social network for individuals to meet other people of like mind and interests,” he told WKU Public Radio.

The Society for Lifelong Learning is holding an open house this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green.

Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU is one step closer to offering a doctorate in Applied Psychology.

The school’s Board of Regents approved the degree program at its quarterly meeting Friday. The new Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) would be offered through the Department of Psychology in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

The Council of Postsecondary Education must now OK the program before the school could begin offering classes in the fall of 2015.

WKU

After seven years as the faculty representative on the WKU Board of Regents, Dr. Patti Minter will step down after Friday's meeting. 

Often an outspoken critic of athletic salaries, Minter always pressed the board to put more emphasis on academics. 

“I think many people are troubled that as the cost of tuition increases, we continue to privilege entertainment over education," Minter told WKU Public Radio.  "We fund a lot of wants over needs."

Dr. Minter said one of her most rewarding experiences was being a voice not just for faculty, but the students and the community.

"One of the things I noticed when I spoke about these inequities at the Board of Regents, people would stop me at the grocery store, people would stop me on campus, and thank me for what I said and they were  glad someone was giving voice to that."

Dr. Minter feels some of her best achievements were bringing domestic partner benefits to WKU and making salary information more transparent.  Still, she says there is work to do in the area of faculty compensation, which is below benchmark.

Creative Commons

The shock of the recession still lingers in public schools across Kentucky.

The results of a recent report from the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the state currently spends $561 less per student than it did in fiscal year 2008. That’s an inflation adjusted drop of about 11 percent.

But Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, says state legislators are slowly trying to turn that around.

“This underscores how critically important it was that the governor and the generally assembly put some dedicated funds for K-12 schools in the biennial budget for this year and next year,” said Hughes.  “We were slipping farther behind other states because of the impact of the recession.  Even though this still puts us in the lowest tier at least we are headed in the right direction.”

Hughes said it is going to take some serious work to get back to levels consistent with those prior to the recession.

“We know that public education is going to have keep going, as they did in 2014, again, again and again to the legislature to say ‘it cost more just to do the educational things that kids need to learn.”

In the report Kentucky ranked 37th out of 47 states reviewed in terms of current funding levels compared to those of 2008.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell, in an email to faculty and staff Thursday morning, announced that Barbara Burch has been elected as the school's new Faculty Regent.

The former WKU Provost will be sworn in as a regent at the board's Oct. 31 meeting. The Faculty Regent position was previously held by History Professor Patti Minter, who chose not to seek another term.

Dr. Burch is currently a professor with WKU's Educational Leadership doctoral program.

In his email, Dr. Ransdell also said "that the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has requested a formal all-encompassing ruling with regard to faculty, staff, and student regent elections at all public institutions as those elections relate to employee relationships of immediate family members.  This is not our request, but CPE has made the request with our encouragement.  We want to be sure that clarity in these elections is the norm in the future.  I would expect this ruling to be rendered in a few weeks."

Robertson County Reveals Redistricting Plan For Schools

Oct 9, 2014

A month after federal investigators determined that Robertson County Schools have not desegregated, officials have released a proposed redistricting plan.

Robertson County Director of Schools Mike Davis told The Tennessean on Monday that the new attendance zones were developed by the federal government, not the local school board.

The district in Middle Tennessee was notified in early September that federal investigators had finished their review of its schools and found them to be in non-compliance. A letter posted on the school system's website says it is required to enter into a settlement agreement or it could lose all federal funding.

Public forums over the changes proposed by the Department of Justice will be held at schools in the district throughout October.

For the third time, a ruling has come down from the state supporting the Bowling Green city school district in their ongoing fight with the Warren County school district over the number of county students allowed to attend city schools with state funding. The Kentucky Board of Education voted Tuesday to uphold Education Commissioner Terry Holliday's previous ruling.

But, in making their ruling, the Board ordered both districts to do more negotiating over the number of students that would be acceptable to both districts with a report on their progress due back to the Board in December.

Holliday's decision that the Board upheld ruled that Bowling Green could enroll 750 Warren County students this school year.

Kentucky Higher Ed Leader Heading National Group

Oct 3, 2014
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King is now heading up the national organization that represents and oversees higher education on behalf of the states.

King was elected chairman of the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. He stepped into the new post this week for a one-year term.

He will preside over the organization's annual meeting and meetings of its executive committee. He will also advise and oversee the work of the organization's president and appoint committee chairmen.

The Kentucky council said King will also help shape the association's policy direction in areas including student completion, affordability, data usage and other issues and will participate in discussions about helping students achieve college degrees and credentials.

Six Kentucky community colleges will share in $10 million in federal grant money to increase online learning programs for the computer and medical fields.  The grants are part of the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training) program, which is awarding more than $450 million in grants overall.  

Somerset Community College is among the schools receiving funds. Ivy Tech College in Indiana was also awarded $2.5 million dollars in grant money to pay for its new computing and informatics program.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says community colleges play an important role in the U.S. economy, calling them the “secret sauce”.

“What this really is, this is kind of like how Dwight Eisenhower built the highway infrastructure in the 50s.  We’re building the new infrastructure of adult training and education in the 21st century,” said Perez.

Kentucky is making a push to re-enroll former college students who never finished their degree. 

A state program called Project Graduate will hold a virtual college fair on September 30, allowing prospective students to speak with school advisors by text video chat.  To participate, students must have earned at least 80 hours toward a bachelor’s degree or at least 30 hours toward an associate degree.

Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio that many students come close to completing their degree when life gets in the way.

"They've been perhaps to a community college or gotten some hours at a university, and for whatever reason, had to drop out and go into the workforce," commented Beshear.  "We need to attract those people back in and in unique ways.  They're working, have families, and a lot of obligations."

All of Kentucky’s public universities and community colleges will waive application fees for students who attend the online fair and register for clasess for next spring. 

Students can log on to www.projectgraduate.org to register for the event.

Sometime after Nov. 1, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System will name a new president to succeed the retiring Michael McCall. But only a group of insiders knows who’s in the running.

The application deadline passed nearly two months ago, on July 25. With the help of an outside search agency, the Association of Community College Trustees, a 16-person search committee expects to narrow the field of applicants to just a few finalists next month. KCTCS Chairman P.G. Peeples, co-chairman of the search committee, said he is pleased with the progress being made.

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