The sponsor of legislation that was competing with Gov. Bill Haslam's to create a school voucher program withdrew her bill on Wednesday after proponents of a broader program decided they want to focus on the governor's plan.
The measure withdrawn by Sen. Dolores Gresham from the Senate Education Committee sought to increase the income limit for eligibility to about $75,000 for a family of four, up quite a bit from the $42,643 envisioned by the Republican governor.
The bill also had no limitation on growth, where Haslam proposes to limit the program to 5,000 students in failing schools in the academic year that begins in August, and grow to 20,000 by 2016.
Gresham, a Somerville Republican and chair of the committee, didn't give a reason for withdrawing the bill but told reporters after the hearing that she may bring it up again before the end of the session.
WKU President Gary Ransdell says anything less than a five-percent tuition increase next year will result in a loss of jobs on campus. In a presentation to faculty and staff Wednesday, Dr. Ransdell outlined his thoughts on the school’s budget, tuition rates, and employee compensation.
He says if the Council on Postsecondary Education approves a four-percent tuition hike instead of the five-percent increase the school is seeking, it won’t be enough.
“Then we have to figure out where we’re going to come up with $1.3 million. A one-percent tuition increase equals $1.3 million. So we’ll have to reduce our spending by $1.3 million in some fashion or another. And the message here is that’s likely to result in a loss of jobs.”
Dr. Ransdell also said faculty and staff will likely see no salary increase next year, because such a boost would have to be paid for by eliminating positions on campus. WKU Faculty Regent Patty Minter told WKU Public Radio after the meeting that she disagrees with the notion that the only way to increase pay is by cutting jobs.
Tuition at the University of Kentucky is expected to rise 3% next year, the smallest increase since 1997. The finance committee of the UK Board of Trustees approved the suggested tuition hike without any discussion. The full board later approved it also. The increase still has to go to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for final approval.
The average in-state undergraduate student will pay $10,110 in the 2013-14 school year. It will be the first time that annual tuition has topped $10,000. Tuition at UK, the state's largest public university, has jumped 150% in the past decade.
The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a plan to reduce staff in an effort to reallocate $23 million.
The Richmond school said in a news release Tuesday that the regents approved a combination of layoffs, staff voluntary buyouts and faculty early retirements to achieve its goals. EKU has about 2,100 full-time faculty and staff on its main campus and regional campuses in Corbin, Danville, Manchester and Somerset.
According to the school's website on the staff reductions, the number of layoffs won't be determined until voluntary buyouts are concluded. EKU says it's seen a 15.2% decline in state support over the last five years.