The Warren County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. School Board Chairman Kerry Young says it was simply the right thing to do.
"We are in the business of educating kids and this gives up the opportunity if we have someone struggling to have them in the system at least two more years to be able to get them either college or career ready," Young remarks.
School systems all over the state are quickly voting to raise the dropout age, which qualifies them for $10,000 in grant money. Taylor and Simpson counties also approved the higher age this week, as well as the Bowling Green city school system.
Under a new state law, once 96 of Kentucky's 176 school districts act, the higher age becomes mandatory statewide. Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio Wednesday that he's confident the 55% threshold will be met by the end of the year.
Kentucky is among the most rapidly improving states in the nation when it comes to closing the achievement gap in schools.
Kentucky recorded better than expected gains in student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act in a new national study.
The findings are among those in a recently released national study "The New State Achievement Gap: How Federal Waivers Could Make It Worse – Or Better" by Education Sector.
The study compares student gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2003-11 in grades 4 and 8, reading and math for all students. Kentucky students recorded an overall gain of 28.2 points. That is better than the national average gain of 20 points.
Kentucky charted the fourth highest gains in the country behind Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
The WKU Board of Regents has passed a nearly $394 million budget for the 2013-14 academic year. In a special meeting Friday, regents voted 7-2 for the spending plan that raises tuition three percent. Resident undergraduate tuition will increase $250 per year to $8,582.
Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said that while the $393,959,000 budget has increased 1.4 percent, building the budget was challenging.
“In order to fund projected fixed costs and ongoing commitments, the administration is implementing a budget balancing plan of more than $2.1 million,” she said.
WKU President Gary Ransdell praised the unified effort across campus to achieve a balanced budget in a trying financial climate.
Faculty Regent Patty Minter cast one of the dissenting votes over a capital project. The budget calls for issuing bonds for construction of a $22 million building for the Honors College and International Student Services.
"It is very risky to take on more bond debt for a long-term project which, while very much a want, is not a need," said Minter.
Forty-six percent of the budget revenue comes from student tuition and fees. State funding makes up only 18 percent of the WKU budget.
Rob Clayton was chosen unanimously this week by the Warren County Board of Education to become the next superintendent of the public school district. He comes from South Oldham Middle School in Crestwood, Kentucky where he served as principal the past seven years. Lisa Autry spoke with him.
What attracted you to this job?
I was mainly attracted to the position because of the people, the quality of the students, staff, and school community. There's a tremendous reputation out there in the state that's certainly well-deserved and I was aware the school board was committed to high levels of achievement and continuous improvement. That certainly gives me great confidence in our ability to excel.
You just completed your 20th year in education. Talk about how your past experiences brought you to where you are today.
I began in 1993 as a high school science teacher and coached football and track and field at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Jefferson County. I was attracted to being a teacher primarily because previous teachers I had and their influence on me. I feel fortunate to be able to say that I've rarely worked a day in my life in education because I truly enjoy working with kids, watching them grow, and helping them find the opportunities I think all kids deserve. Most recently, I've had the opportunity to be have a larger influence on my students from an administrative standpoint (as principal of South Oldham Middle School).
The incoming president of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents says he fully backs efforts to increase the state's dropout age to 18.
Simpson County Superintendent Jim Flynn told WKU Public Radio he thinks some kids drop out because they know they aren't going to college. But Flynn believes the state is starting to do a better of identifying ways to help those not going into postsecondary education.
"Now that the state is focusing on multiple pathways into career and college readiness, it gives some students that may feel a little left out when the focus was simply on college readiness and proficiency only," says Flynn.
Flynn takes over as head of the state's Association of School Superintendents at the group's summer meeting this week in Bowling Green.
Future of Education Funding?
Flynn is hopeful that the state's improving economic outlook will boost chances for increased education funding.