Jefferson County Schools could be the first in the state to act to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18. School board member Chris Brady says he'll bring the issue up for discussion Monday night and could pursue a vote.
"I think it's in our best interest to set the expectation that everyone graduates by at least age 18 and to say it's not okay to dropout before that time," Brady adds.
Brady says it's important for JCPS to act quickly to send a message to the state and the community that the district wants to do everything it can to reach all students. JCPS is the state's largest district.
Governor Beshear just signed the bill last week. It leaves the decision up to individual districts. Once 55% of districts raise the age, it will become mandatory for all four years later. Over 6,000 Kentucky students drop out each year. Over 1,000 JCPS students are dropping out each year.
A Lexington-based attorney with a history representing former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher has sent a complaint to Murray State’s Board of Regents Chair alleging a violation of Kentucky’s Open Meeting law.
Jim Deckard sent the complaint to Dr. Constantine Curris Thursday. Deckard, referencing media reports, says a quorum of regents gathered at regent Sharon Green’s home and discussed board business the night before the board’s quarterly meeting.
At that meeting Curris entertained a motion to vote on whether or not to extend President Randy Dunn’s contract. The discussion wasn’t listed on the board meeting agenda. It was brought up under the guise of “other business.” The motion to extend Dunn a new four year contract failed by a margin of 7 to 4.
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The measure withdrawn by Sen.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.
After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law.
Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.
Jane Beshear says the fact the five year fight on the issue is over is monumental for education in the Commonwealth.
"And I can't say it's a small step, it's a huge step," she said.
Following multiple investigations of abuse of power and inappropriate spending by school superintendents in Kentucky, the Department of Education is working to improve transparency.
After uncovering cases of fiscal neglect at a handful of districts, state auditor Adam Edelen suggested that information relating to school superintendent compensation, benefits, and yearly evaluations be posted online.
Hiren Desai with the Kentucky Department of Education says school boards will also receive training on best practices for developing superintendent contracts.
“There are a lot of districts who have good templates, but as you know there are a lot of districts who don’t have any templates. They write contracts, as we found through these audits, on napkins and paper towels. So we’re going to stop that practice," said Desai.
A Tennessee panel that could authorize charter schools to open anywhere in the state is moving forward against the objections of Democrats and a few rural Republicans.
The proposal would require that charter applicants first ask the local school board for permission to open a publicly funded, privately run school. If the answer is no, they could go to the new independent state panel that would have the final say-so.
Rep. Curtis Halford is a Republican from west Tennessee, where there are no charter schools at this point. He spoke against the state authorizer in a House committee.
“Is it just kind of like if you don’t get the answer you want from mom you go to dad?,” asked Halford.
The state wants to hear the opinions of teachers across the state. They're being asked to complete the TELL Kentucky Survey. TELL stands for teaching, empowering, leading, and learning.
Schools will use the information gathered for their annual improvement plans. The state will also use the data to make improvements. Questions on the survey cover everything from school leadership and community support to use of time and managing student conduct.
The survey is being done every two years. 2011 was the first year, with 80% of Kentucky teachers responding. State officials hope to get that number to 90% this year. The online survey is anonymous and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It runs through March 29. Click here for more information on the survey and to see response rates, by district.