Governor Beshear is announcing a major Race to the Top educational grant to several Kentucky school district cooperatives. The governor will be joined by state education commissioner Terry Holliday, the leaders of several educational co-ops, the Hart County Schools superintendent, and other education leaders.
A news release issued by the Governor’s office said Beshear will announce in Shelby County Monday morning $41 million in Race to the Top grant money to be shared by Kentucky school district co-ops.
Those groups include the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative, which includes districts across south-central Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of school districts in north-central Kentucky.
Twenty-two districts from those two co-ops joined in an application and were awarded one of the nation’s two largest District-Race to the Top grants.
Race to the Top is a federal education program created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K through 12 education.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is affirming a decision to allow 750 Warren County students to attend Bowling Green city schools this academic year, according to a posting on the city schools' website.
Earlier this year, the Warren County school board lowered the cap on the number of county-zoned students allowed to attend city schools. The city appealed the county’s decision to the state education commissioner.
Following a three-day hearing last month, the hearing officer recommended to Holliday that the student cap be increased to 750 in the 2013-14 school year and the 2014-15 school years.
Holliday’s order received Friday by the city school system only addresses this year.
WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff that it's unlikely that significant new state funding for higher education will come from the next Kentucky budget.
Speaking at Friday's annual convocation, President Ransdell said the recent state funding declines make it all the more important for the school to attract the highest-achieving students possible, and do everything possible to see them through to graduation.
Ransdell said WKU is challenged by a drop in the number of high school graduates in the commonwealth.
"The number of U.S. high-school graduates peaked at 3.4 million in 2010-2011 and is projected to fall to 3.2 million by 2013-14, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Kentucky is projected to have a 6.1 percent decline in the number of high school graduates by 2020," said Dr. Ransdell.
"An era of aggressive tuition increases and enrollment growth strategies that carried us from 1998 to 2008 cannot serve us well going forward. We have penetrated well the Kentucky market place, but the paradigm has shifted. The numbers in Kentucky just are not there in the future."
The new WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center in Bowling Green will double the number of new nursing and physical therapy students graduating and entering the work force.
The first class of 80 nursing students begins classes Monday, Aug. 26.
WKU President Gary Ransdell told an audience at Thursday morning's official opening of the complex that as many as 360 students will be going through a variety of programs.
"This new building will house a bachelor's, master's, and a doctoral degree program in the WKU School of Nursing. And is will allow us to double the number of nursing students we accept every year, and the impact that will have on health care across our entire region is just profound," said Dr. Ransdell.
The first class of 30 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program began in June and just finished their first semester.
Kentucky is implementing a statewide screening system for kindergarteners this year. Governor Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday made the announcement in Frankfort Thursday.
"As a former teacher, I understand how getting to know a student's needs and abilities early in the school year can make a big difference in helping that child to succeed," said Mrs. Beshear.
Every school district in the state will use the Brigance Kindergarten Screener, a tool used by many states to gauge a child's school readiness. Courtney Daniel in the Governor's Office of Early Childhood says a student cannot fail the screening.
"The screener is a moment in time snapshot of the child's development," Daniel explained. "It's not an entrance exam for kindergarten, and it's not going to be used to track or label children."
The screening system was piloted in 109 Kentucky school districts last year. Data collected from those districts indicate that a majority of children are socially and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten. However, many students did not achieve at high levels in the areas of cognition, language, and motor skills.