10:01 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Kentucky's Largest School System Votes to Increase Dropout Age

The Jefferson County Board of Education has voted in favor of a resolution calling for an increase in the dropout age.

The Courier-Journal reports the board voted on the measure that supports raising the dropout age to 18 despite concerns from member Linda Duncan that it wouldn't "cure out-of-control kids and keep them in school."

A formal vote on the issue won't come until July, and the policy wouldn't go into effect until the 2015-16 school year.

Duncan says she hopes that is enough time to address her concerns.

According to district officials, 768 JCPS students dropped out of this school year as of January, including 188 who were 17.

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3:15 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

CPE Caps Tuition Hikes at Kentucky Schools at 3%, Less than What WKU's Ransdell Sought

Tuition for in-state undergrads at all of Kentucky's state colleges and universities will increase by three percent next academic year.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education voted Thursday to cap tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students at the state’s public schools at three percent. It’s the smallest average tuition hike for Kentucky’s public institutions in 15 years.

WKU President Gary Ransdell spoke to the CPE at its meeting at Lindsey Wilson College, and asked for a five percent increase for WKU. 

In an email to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon, Dr. Ransdell said WKU will have to endure a budget cut due to the smaller-than-hoped-for tuition increase.

"A five percent increase would have given us a balanced budget for next year with no cuts," the WKU President wrote. "This CPE action, however, means that we have budget work to do before taking a balanced budget to our Board of Regents in June."

"We will take this in stride as we have done for the last several years.  I have asked the Vice Presidents to begin making recommendations as we begin budget reduction conversations on Monday. Every effort will be made to protect as many jobs as possible and to act in the best interest of our students and employees. I will be back in touch in due course as options take shape. "

CPE President Bob King said the board felt that tuition increases should be kept "as minimal as possible" given the "challenging economic environment" that students are facing.

9:35 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Kentucky Education Commissioner Diagnosed with Vocal Disorder

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

The Commissioner of Education in Kentucky has been diagnosed with a neurological voice disorder that’s limiting his ability to talk normally. Dr. Terry Holliday started noticing symptoms last September, and by December his voice had dramatically deteriorated. 

After ruling out cancer, Holliday made appointments with several specialists.

“I’ve been diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which is basically your vocal cords freeze up," Holliday said.

A cause of the condition is unknown but fortunately it’s not life-threatening. Spasmodic dysphonia is the  same disorder that affects public radio host Diane Rehm.

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12:10 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Merger Plan Moving Forward in Two Southern Kentucky School Districts

A financially troubled school district in southern Kentucky has voted to merge with the county school system. 

The Monticello school board approved a plan Monday night that calls for merging with the Wayne County School District, effective July 1st. 

Monticello schools went under state management in February after borrowing more than a million dollars from the state just to keep its three schools open for the rest of the academic year. 

The Wayne County School Board has called a special meeting Tuesday night and members are expected to sign off on the merger.

10:08 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Kentucky Governor Signs into Law New Teacher Effectiveness System

Education advocates join Governor Steve Beshear for a ceremonial bill signing that clears the way for Kentucky to implement a new teacher evaluation system.
Credit Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky Governor Beshear has put his signature on a bill that clears the way for a new statewide teacher evaluation system. 

In a private ceremony in his office on Monday, the governor signed into law House Bill 180.  The legislation is intended to move educators from simply being qualified to being highly effective.

“Current evaluation systems in Kentucky do not provide our educators the information they need to support their professional growth and effectiveness and in turn, to support increases in student achievement,” Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said.

The new evaluation system calls for multiple measures of effectiveness.  The system, which is being field-tested in 54 school districts this school year, will be piloted statewide in the 2013-14 school year.

11:54 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Kentucky Business, Education Leaders Unite to Fund Classroom Innovation

Kentucky business leaders and education advocates are teaming up to start a new funding source for innovation in education.

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky—also known as the The Fund—is being launched to help with grants and extra fundraising for the Kentucky Department of Education.

Billy Harper, a Paducah businessman and the Fund's chairman,  says the new group won't replace traditional funding, but will be around to help fund innovative ideas or collect grants for them.

"We're not going to replace what we're doing that is funded by tax money or the Department of Education. But we're going to take the role of funding the research, or funding trial ideas to move Kentucky in a new era instead of just doing what we've done in the past," Harper says.

It won't be an advocacy group, Harper says. Only one state, Colorado, is going this route, he adds.

"It is innovative, it's new, but this is what we're trying to do to move Kentucky out front and look for better ways for education," he says. 

The Fund's first role will be to distribute a grant from the Gates Foundation to help innovative teachers.

8:25 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Henderson County Schools Looking at New Security Systems

A western Kentucky school district is expected to hear proposals for installing new audio/video secure entry systems throughout the district.

The Henderson County Board of Education is taking up the idea at its meeting Tuesday evening.

The Gleaner reports South Western Communications of Evansville, Ind., gave the board a price of $39,760 to cover installation of 14 systems at 13 locations. The system offers color video of the person wishing to gain entry into a facility along with two-way audio communication for positive identification before entry is allowed, according to the proposal description.

The only district school to have a buzzer security system is the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center, which opened in August.

5:00 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Southern Kentucky School Districts Consider Merger

The Monticello Independent and Wayne County school boards both meet Monday night to consider a merger proposal.  The state board of education rescued the Monticello school system in February by lending it a million dollars to keep its three schools open until the end of the academic year.  The state then assumed financial management of the district.  Associate Education Commissioner Kevin Brown says merger is the only viable solution at this point.

"There's no scenario that exists that would give Monticello Independent enough revenue to meet that shortfall for next year," explains Brown.  "Because of declining attendance in the district and other reasons, the writing just basically on the wall that it's not able to survive."

Under the state takeover, Jim Hamm was appointed to manage Monticello schools and he told WKU Public Radio on Friday the city and county school districts were very close to a merger agreement.  If the local boards fail to reach an agreement, the state can force merger under current law.

1:41 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Three Finalists Named for Superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools

Owensboro High School

Three finalists have been named for superintendent of Owensboro public schools. The Messenger-Inquirer reports the finalists are county school administrator Mark Owens, economic development leader Nick Brake, and Oldham County principal Rob Clayton.

The three were chosen from a pool of 16 applicants.

The new superintendent will be selected in early May to replace Larry Vick, who is retiring.

4:14 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Kentucky School Boards Offered Financial Incentive to Increase Dropout Age

Kentucky education commissioner Terry Holliday says the first 57 school districts that raise their dropout age from 16 to 18 will be given a $10,000 state grant.

Holliday made the announcement Wednesday during a state Board of Education meeting in Frankfort. Just before the announcement, board members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging Kentucky's 174 school districts to raise the dropout age as soon as possible.

The board has for years been urging state lawmakers to raise Kentucky's legal dropout age to 18.

A compromise reached during this year's legislative session allows local districts to make their own decision on raising the age, but with a provision that once 55 percent of districts have done so, the change will be made statewide within four years.