Gov. Bill Haslam says lawmakers still have a "ways to go" in reaching a consensus on his school voucher legislation.
But the Republican governor told reporters on Thursday after speaking at a higher education event organized by the Tennessee Business Roundtable that he's optimistic a measured approach to his proposal will prevail.
Haslam originally sought to limit the vouchers to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools.
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed a version that would expand eligibility to low-income students in districts that have a school in the bottom 5 percent if the initial slots aren't filled.
The House version, which has stalled, would expand eligibility to the bottom 10 percent of failing schools if slots are left. Haslam acknowledged Thursday there's still work to be done in the House.
A bill that would allow persistently low-achieving public schools to convert to privately-run charter schools has cleared the Kentucky Senate.
The measure passed the Republican-led chamber by a 22-14 party line vote. It would allow certified teaching staff and parents to petition the school’s principal to hold a vote on whether a privately run charter organization should be in charge of the school.
Sen. Mike Wilson, a Republican from Bowling Green, sponsored the bill.
“It’s only allowed in conversions for these low-achieving schools, and schools do remain accountable to the local board, who is, that who is the contract is with, and it’s only for a period of five years,” said Wilson.
Wilson filed similar legislation last year, only for it die in the Democratic-controlled House.
Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat from Louisville, spoke against the bill on the Senate floor. He took issue with the notion that charter schools are a cure-all for education.
Arrangements have been announced following the death of a longtime WKU agriculture professor.
Dr. David Coffey passed away last Thursday after a brief illness. A remembrance ceremony will be held Sunday, March 30, at 2 p.m. at the WKU Alumni Center, and April 5 at 2 p.m at the Burkesville United Methodist Church.
Dr. Coffey’s cremains will be distributed to the WKU Chapel, the Coffey family farm on the Cumberland River, and Ecuador.
Dr. Coffey led numerous Study Aboard trips to Ecuador, Australia, Argentina, and Costa Rica. He gained a reputation as an outstanding instructor during his three-plus decades at WKU, with his course in rural sociology proving especially popular.
You can find more information on Dr. Coffey's life and remembrance ceremony arrangements here.
Attendance at some schools in our listening area could be light today and tomorrow--but not because of weather.
The Kentucky Boys Sweet 16 basketball tournament gets underway Wednesday in Lexington, and many students from participating schools will be at Rupp Arena, as opposed to the classroom.
Bowling Green High School plays its first round game tomorrow afternoon against Knott County Central. Bowling Green High Principal Gary Fields says his school system understands that attending the tournament is a great experience for students.
"We didn't want to dismiss school, so what we're doing is if a student buys a ticket and travels with their parents or family friends, then they are excused from school that day. It is an absence. We're required to count them absent, but it's an excused absence," Fields told WKU Public Radio.
Fields says calling off school wasn't an option, especially since Bowling Green has missed five days already due to winter weather. Several county school systems in our region have missed a dozen or more days.
Dr. Michio Kaku talks with WKU Public Radio prior to his appearance at Van Meter Hall.
Dr. Michio Kaku has devoted much of his life to studying the human brain. He's a co-founder of String Field Theory. He says the new brain mapping project, when complete, will be the most important scientific study since the Human Genome project.
The theoretical physicist and author was the featured speaker at WKU's Cultural Enhancement Series Monday night.
Dr. Kaku says the new revelations about the brain could help doctors treat mental illness and restore memories to those with Alzheimer's Disease. He says technology now exists to record the dreams and thoughts inside someone's head.
The superintendent of Barren County Schools says he would be willing to consider the idea of year-round school.
The concept has come up recently following several episodes of harsh winter weather that led many school systems to cancel classes over a dozen times.
Barren County Superintendent Bo Matthews says it might be a good idea to think about officially shortening the summer break, since it is often gets impacted by make-up days caused by bad weather.
"The summer break, if you will, continues to get smaller if you look at school calendars around the state,” Matthews told WKU Public Radio. “So, in some respects, it wouldn't be a stretch to see us begin to creep further into the month of June."
Barren County has missed 16 days this school year due to bad winter weather. Lawrence County has missed 32.
The full House will vote on legislation to allow local school districts to shorten their instructional calendar by up to ten days. The measure is being promoted as a way for schools to deal with a higher-than-normal number of snow days. Dry Ridge Representative Brian Linder says educators in his home community realize it often takes a while for bills to become laws.
“I told them I would bring the urgency that we need to make sure that we get this pushed through as quickly as possible so they can get their schedule figured out,” said Linder.
Bill sponsor John Will Stacey says school districts will not lose state funds, if they opt to reduce their calendars by one to ten days. Still, Richmond Representative Rita Smart has some concerns.
“Is it fair for districts that don’t take as many days that other districts are gonna take those ten days?,” asked Smart.