Education

The shock of the recession still lingers in public schools across Kentucky.

The results of a recent report from the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the state currently spends $561 less per student than it did in fiscal year 2008. That’s an inflation adjusted drop of about 11 percent.

But Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, says state legislators are slowly trying to turn that around.

“This underscores how critically important it was that the governor and the generally assembly put some dedicated funds for K-12 schools in the biennial budget for this year and next year,” said Hughes.  “We were slipping farther behind other states because of the impact of the recession.  Even though this still puts us in the lowest tier at least we are headed in the right direction.”

Hughes said it is going to take some serious work to get back to levels consistent with those prior to the recession.

“We know that public education is going to have keep going, as they did in 2014, again, again and again to the legislature to say ‘it cost more just to do the educational things that kids need to learn.”

In the report Kentucky ranked 37th out of 47 states reviewed in terms of current funding levels compared to those of 2008.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell, in an email to faculty and staff Thursday morning, announced that Barbara Burch has been elected as the school's new Faculty Regent.

The former WKU Provost will be sworn in as a regent at the board's Oct. 31 meeting. The Faculty Regent position was previously held by History Professor Patti Minter, who chose not to seek another term.

Dr. Burch is currently a professor with WKU's Educational Leadership doctoral program.

In his email, Dr. Ransdell also said "that the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has requested a formal all-encompassing ruling with regard to faculty, staff, and student regent elections at all public institutions as those elections relate to employee relationships of immediate family members.  This is not our request, but CPE has made the request with our encouragement.  We want to be sure that clarity in these elections is the norm in the future.  I would expect this ruling to be rendered in a few weeks."

Robertson County Reveals Redistricting Plan For Schools

Oct 9, 2014

A month after federal investigators determined that Robertson County Schools have not desegregated, officials have released a proposed redistricting plan.

Robertson County Director of Schools Mike Davis told The Tennessean on Monday that the new attendance zones were developed by the federal government, not the local school board.

The district in Middle Tennessee was notified in early September that federal investigators had finished their review of its schools and found them to be in non-compliance. A letter posted on the school system's website says it is required to enter into a settlement agreement or it could lose all federal funding.

Public forums over the changes proposed by the Department of Justice will be held at schools in the district throughout October.

For the third time, a ruling has come down from the state supporting the Bowling Green city school district in their ongoing fight with the Warren County school district over the number of county students allowed to attend city schools with state funding. The Kentucky Board of Education voted Tuesday to uphold Education Commissioner Terry Holliday's previous ruling.

But, in making their ruling, the Board ordered both districts to do more negotiating over the number of students that would be acceptable to both districts with a report on their progress due back to the Board in December.

Holliday's decision that the Board upheld ruled that Bowling Green could enroll 750 Warren County students this school year.

Kentucky Higher Ed Leader Heading National Group

Oct 3, 2014
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King is now heading up the national organization that represents and oversees higher education on behalf of the states.

King was elected chairman of the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. He stepped into the new post this week for a one-year term.

He will preside over the organization's annual meeting and meetings of its executive committee. He will also advise and oversee the work of the organization's president and appoint committee chairmen.

The Kentucky council said King will also help shape the association's policy direction in areas including student completion, affordability, data usage and other issues and will participate in discussions about helping students achieve college degrees and credentials.

Six Kentucky community colleges will share in $10 million in federal grant money to increase online learning programs for the computer and medical fields.  The grants are part of the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training) program, which is awarding more than $450 million in grants overall.  

Somerset Community College is among the schools receiving funds. Ivy Tech College in Indiana was also awarded $2.5 million dollars in grant money to pay for its new computing and informatics program.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says community colleges play an important role in the U.S. economy, calling them the “secret sauce”.

“What this really is, this is kind of like how Dwight Eisenhower built the highway infrastructure in the 50s.  We’re building the new infrastructure of adult training and education in the 21st century,” said Perez.

Kentucky is making a push to re-enroll former college students who never finished their degree. 

A state program called Project Graduate will hold a virtual college fair on September 30, allowing prospective students to speak with school advisors by text video chat.  To participate, students must have earned at least 80 hours toward a bachelor’s degree or at least 30 hours toward an associate degree.

Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio that many students come close to completing their degree when life gets in the way.

"They've been perhaps to a community college or gotten some hours at a university, and for whatever reason, had to drop out and go into the workforce," commented Beshear.  "We need to attract those people back in and in unique ways.  They're working, have families, and a lot of obligations."

All of Kentucky’s public universities and community colleges will waive application fees for students who attend the online fair and register for clasess for next spring. 

Students can log on to www.projectgraduate.org to register for the event.

Sometime after Nov. 1, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System will name a new president to succeed the retiring Michael McCall. But only a group of insiders knows who’s in the running.

The application deadline passed nearly two months ago, on July 25. With the help of an outside search agency, the Association of Community College Trustees, a 16-person search committee expects to narrow the field of applicants to just a few finalists next month. KCTCS Chairman P.G. Peeples, co-chairman of the search committee, said he is pleased with the progress being made.

PBS

An upcoming presentation at WKU by a popular former PBS host known as “The Science Guy” is proving such a hot ticket that the event is being moved.

Bill Nye is speaking October 15 as part of the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series. He was originally slated to talk at Van Meter Hall, but to accommodate the high demand for tickets, the school is moving the event to Diddle Arena.

Nye is a scientist, author, and advocate who travels the country to talk about the importance of science education. He recently debated the issue of evolution versus creationism at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky.

All tickets given out for Nye’s talk at Van Meter will be honored at Diddle Arena. Updated information about tickets and parking for Nye's event at WKU is available here.

WKU

WKU History Professor Patti Minter, in an email to WKU faculty Thursday evening, says she will not stand for re-election for another term as faculty regent.

Minter's last day as regent will be Oct. 31, the same day as the fourth quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents.

"My seven years on the Board of Regents have been interesting, challenging, and often lively," Minter said in her email. "As the faculty’s voice and advocate on the Board, I have always done my best to strengthen WKU’s educational mission and to advocate for the interests not only of my faculty constituents but also for all employees and students of Western Kentucky University."

"I have also worked hard to abide by my oath of office and fiduciary responsibility to act in the University’s best interests, even when this meant voicing dissent. In closing, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks for your past support, without which any forward progress would not have been possible."

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