Education

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Schools in western Kentucky have started to consider options if federal funding cuts are implemented next Friday.

If Congress doesn't move to stop the cuts scheduled to take place on March 1, nearly $3 billion in education funding would be cut.

Daviess County Superintendent Owen Saylor told the Messenger-Inquirer that the district is trying to prepare just in case.

"Worst case, we're looking at $535,000 in lost funding for our district alone," Saylor said. "We don't want to scare anyone. We don't like giving bad news, but if nothing changes, we're like everyone else. Eventually you have to cut jobs."

Kentucky's community and technical colleges around the state will take part in Super Sunday this weekend.  Representatives from the schools will visit more than three dozen African-American and Hispanic churches. Following services, an information fair will reach out to prospective students and their parents. 

"KCTCS has a strong commitment to diversity and ensuring that every citizen in this state has the educational opportunities that they need to succeed," said Dr. Michael McCall, president of the  Kentucky Community and Technical College System. "It's our responsibility to make everyone aware of college, that it is within their reach."

Kentucky Legislators Debate New School Safety Standards

Feb 22, 2013

A bill that would create new statewide school safety standards has unanimously passed the House Education Committee and will soon be considered on the floor. The bill's sponsor, Mt. Sterling Democrat Richard Henderson, says he worked with a special task force for months before the start of this legislative session to come up with the plan.

It would require each school to have an emergency plan, have electronically controlled outside doors or a greeter to manage who gets in and to lock classroom doors when practical. the bill also creates a uniform system of numbering all schools' doors and windows, created by a Franklin County school resource officer.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says he recently tested it on more than 150 superintendents and law enforcers and most were able to learn the system in about five minutes.

Six Kentucky's public universities can immediately start construction on more than $300 million in construction or renovation projects, including a $110-million renovation of Lexington's Commonwealth Stadium.

Governor Steve Beshear signed House Bill 7 into law on Thursday.

The bill authorizes bonds and other funds to help build academic buildings, dorms and other necessities at the universities. It assures no public money will be used for the projects.

WKU will receive authorization for $22 million in bonds for a new Honors College and international center.

Kevin Willis

A bill allowing most of Kentucky's public universities to start more than $360 million in bonding projects has officially cleared both legislative chambers.

The Senate passed the bill 36-1  Wednesday, with Sen. John Schickel, a Union Republican, as the lone dissenting vote. 

The bill allows six of the state's eight public universities to start projects such as dorm renovations, construction of academic buildings and renovation of Commonwealth Stadium.

The plan includes $22 million in bonds for a new Honors College and international center at WKU.

State Approves Takeover of Monticello Schools

Feb 21, 2013

The Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday rescued a small southern school district from the brink of closure, voting to allow emergency funds to be used to pay the bills in what members called an unprecedented move by the state.

Under the agreement, the state Department of Education will likely lend the Monticello Independent school district at least $1 million to keep its three schools open until the end of the school year. The interest-free loan will come out of the state's rainy day fund and will have to be repaid within five years, said associate commissioner Hiren Desai.

Desai said without the help, the district would not have been able to make payroll Feb. 28.

"Quite frankly, time is of the essence," Desai told members at a special meeting in Frankfort.

Kentucky high school graduates with special needs may now request an alternative high school diploma from their local board of education. 

State Senator Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown sponsored legislation last year to give students who finished a modified curriculum an alternative diploma. Until then, they were given only a certificate of attainment. 

Under a change that took effect in January, special needs students who graduated before the law took affect, may now retroactively request an alternative high school diploma. 

A bill to create an authorizing body for charter schools in Tennessee has been delayed. The sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis.

As written, the bill would give charter schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA. 

Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.

“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application,” said Rep. White.

The State Board of Education will meet in special session Wednesday to consider taking over management of a southeast Kentucky school system. The Monticello Independent school district has waived its right to appeal a state takeover. The problems plaguing Monticello schools are not academic.

A financial analysis by the Kentucky Department of Education finds enrollment is declining while expenditures remain too high for the size of the district. 

A revenue forecast dated January 7 of this year estimates the general fund for Monticello will end the current school year with a negative balance of more than a million dollars. Additionally, the state last month had to advance over  $700,000 to Monticello to continue operating and make payroll.

Starting this fall, WKU’s Elizabethtown campus will offer a Masters of Business Administration. Students will be able to choose from three tracks:  the full-time, online, or professional MBA.

The Professional MBA was created to meet the scheduling needs of busy adults by meeting on alternate Saturdays for two years. The program is open to professionals, business owners, and managers with five years of experience. 

WKU’s PMBA program recently placed in the top 5 percent nationally on the standardized exit exam for graduates of MBA programs. 

“This top ranking proves that we have an excellent faculty, an applied curriculum, and a cohort program that works,” said Bob Hatfield, associate dean of WKU's Gordon Ford College of Business.

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