The state Nature Preserves Commission has given three WKU professors its annual award for work that protects biological diversity.
Alfred Meier, Ouida Meier and Scott Grubbs were given this year's Biological Diversity Protection Award for their work creating the Upper Green River Biological Preserve. The preserve is on the banks of the Green River in Hart County.
The Green River is the most important river in Kentucky for the conservation of rare native mussels and fish. It hosts 109 fish species and nearly 60 mussel species. The area is also important for an endangered bat species found on the preserve and as a breeding and migratory habitat for songbirds.
Education Week magazine has ranked Kentucky in the top ten in its annual assessment of school policy and standards.
The commonwealth got two perfect scores in subcategories of the six indicators measured. One was for school accountability and another for Economy and Workforce. Overall, the commonwealth received a grade of B-minus.
Tennessee and Indiana both received grades of C+.
And while the state has tried to avoid cutting education, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says federal education cuts could be coming.
"We think we've solved the fiscal cliff two weeks ago. We did not," says Holiday. "It is still a reality and we encourage our congressional delegation to solve this fiscal cliff issue called 'sequestration' for domestic cuts.”
Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders are pushing a plan to authorize $363 million worth of bonds for construction projects at six of the state's public universities.
The plan, announced Thursday morning in Frankfort, includes $22 million for a WKU international center and honor's college. The selling point, Beshear said, is that the projects will be paid for entirely by the universities. He stressed that no General Fund money would be used.
A new honors college and international center at WKU and renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects.
The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
The plan allows for $363-million in renovation and construction projects at six of Kentucky's eight state universities.
Stumbo says the projects were rejected because of election-year politics — because House lawmakers are elected in even-numbered years — and secondly because universities made unreasonable bonding requests.
And while many projects were rejected last year, the newly agreed upon ones are ready to start immediately.
“We had asked at the end of the last session to bring us a realistic list, what can you accomplish, what is shovel ready, what do you have the funding sources identified for, what can you accomplish in this next year,” Stumbo says.
Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Owensboro this spring for a benefit fundraiser. The Messenger-Inquirier reports the event will raise funds to support the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center.
Ford served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999, and was Democratic Whip the first six years of Clinton’s presidencies.
President Clinton has appeared in Daviess County before—in 2000, he presented an education award to Audubon Elementary School, and he campaigned at Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2008 on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Ford Government Education Center is located downtown in the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, and has displays of pictures, artifacts, and documents from Ford’s political career.
More than 260 Kentucky teachers were awarded national certification in 2012, ranking the state seventh nationally for the number of teachers earning that achievement.
National Board Certification is administered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as is considered a top achievement in the profession.
The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board says in a news release that the top ten states with the highest number of teachers certified in 2012 were North Carolina, Washington, Illinois, California, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and New York.
Charter school legislation has been introduced in the Kentucky House. It would allow a limited number of schools to pilot the concept, and supporters of the bill are hoping the less aggressive approach will appeal to those who have opposed past measures.
Shelbyville Rep. Brad Montell crafted his bill with help from the Kentucky Charter School Project. The group includes several organizations that have supported charter school legislation the past couple of years.
Spokesman Joe Burgan says the bill would pilot the charter school concept instead of allowing all schools the option.
“So instead of wide spread charter schools in Kentucky this would limit them top 75 schools over a five year period. So it’s starting small rather than trying to jump right in and get everything in one bill.”
An exhibit opens later this month at WKU featuring the photographs as well as reproductions of images in 3D. The gallery show opens January 24th and is called "Witness: Photographs of a Nation Divided."
The show will feature a collection of Civil War photography as well as a re-creation of Matthew Brady's photographs documenting the Battle of Antietam. That 1862 battle at Sharpsburg, MD is knows as the bloodiest single day in American military history.
The exhibit runs from January24th to March 29th, excluding the week of March 11th, in WKU's Mass Media and Technology Hall atrium and gallery.
Despite a short legislative session that’s expected to focus on pension reforms, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says lawmakers may consider some key education measures, too.
“I think you’re going to see a number of possible bills coming out following up from the Newtown incident.”
Holliday says lawmakers may also be interested in increasing funding for Kentucky’s Center for School Safety, which saw dramatic cuts to its budget in 2009.
He also expects the General Assembly to take up legislation that would allow the education department to move forward with reforming its teacher evaluation system. The new system would likely measure teacher performance based partly on student test scores, which has been controversial among some in education.
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority is recommending that high school seniors who plan to further their education at a college or technical school this fall fill out paperwork as soon as possible for financial aid.
The paperwork is known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and the information determines whether students qualify for aid in the form of federal and state grants and federal student loans.
Some colleges also award their own grants and scholarships based on information contained in the FAFSA.
The state agency recommends submitting the application online here, but the papers can be mailed if necessary.