The Owensboro Public School District is planning to turn a shuttered facility into a regional career and technical education center. The district has purchased the former Texas Gas property, which includes a 160,000 square foot building.
Superintendent Nick Brake says it’s a facility that’s badly needed in Owensboro.
“We’d like everything to be aligned to the local workforce and economic needs of our community," said Dr. Brake. "We feel like it’s an ideal location for that type of activity because of its central location off the bypass and it’s accessible to all the local high schools.”
Kentucky’s high school graduation rate is one of the highest in state history and education officials say more students are finishing college and career ready than ever before.
Gov. Steve Beshear joined Education Commissioner Terry Holliday Tuesday in announcing the preliminary results of new assessment data that will be released later this month. Beshear says the state posted an 86 percent graduation rate this year, improving from the 78 percent rate in 2012. .
Also, more than half of Kentucky students are graduating ready for college and career ready, which means fewer remedial courses for those entering college.
Beshear calls it a turning point in Kentucky education history, which he says at times has been embarrassing.
“But thanks to decades of hard work and policy changes Kentucky has carved out a new reputation. A reputation as a reform minded state that is innovative, bold and relentless," the Governor said.
Results for individual schools and districts are expected to be released late next week.
A new scholarship program sponsored by the WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is aimed at cutting the cost of graduate school for area educators.
The Topper Educator Graduate Scholarship is aimed at WKU alumni and those who are educators in school districts within the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative.
"The ones that we are specifically focusing on would be individuals who are classroom teachers and those who are aspiring to become school principals," said Sam Evans, Dean of the WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
He says the scholarship is non-competitive and can allow graduate students to save over $8,000 on the cost of a graduate education degree.
"It is a non-competitive scholarship. If you are a graduate of WKU, you are eligible for this scholarship, although you do have to certified as a classroom teacher, or eligible for the certification," Evans said.
Scholarship recipients would receive a discounted rate of $395 per credit hour regardless of changes in overall tuition.
The Kentucky Department of Education will begin preparing to implement new science standards in the next school year.
The standards revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change. A General Assembly committee rejected the standards this week but Governor Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.
Dr. Tom Tretter at the University of Louisville worked on the standards. He’s also helping teachers implement the new lessons. He says even though they haven’t cleared all the legislative hurdles, the state feels it’s best to begin training teachers.
“Given that we feel like its best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," said Dr. Tretter.
Kentucky is among the states providing less per-student funding for public education than they did before the recession.
The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Thursday highlighting education spending over the last few years. The report shows Kentucky’s funding per-student is around 10 percent lower than what it was in 2008.
Jason Bailey is the organization’s Kentucky representative, and was also on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. He says it’s up to state lawmakers to find new revenue and they can start by acting on some of the tax reforms recommended by the panel.
“The reality is that the budget that lawmakers will make during the legislative session will be as bad or worse than the current budget unless we come up with more revenue.”
The center reports only 20 states have boosted education funding through new tax laws since the recession.