education

St. Catharine College To Close At End Of July

Jun 1, 2016
St. Catherine College

Officials from St. Catharine College announced Wednesday that the school will shutter its doors next month.

According to a news release, following recent meetings of the board of trustees, chairman John Turner told faculty and staff of the planned closure at a campus-wide meeting on Wednesday.

“It is with great sadness that I announce today, after exploring all possible options, the board of trustees has determined the challenges facing St. Catharine College are insurmountable and we will be closing the college at the end of July,” Turner said.

Turner said a decline in overall enrollment and the federal Department of Education’s admitted wrongful withholding of student aid has proven to be too difficult to manage along with the college’s debts.

The school says the debt Turner referenced was due to the construction of new facilities, including residence halls, a health sciences building and a library.

EKU Closing Campus in Somerset

May 30, 2016
EKU-Somerset Campus

Eastern Kentucky University is closing a satellite campus in Somerset.

Media outlets report the university announced in a news release that the 5,000-square-foot office will close on June 30 due to state budget cuts.

EKU faces a 4.5 percent reduction in state support for each of the next two fiscal years. The news release says EKU also has an estimated $8 million in additional costs for mandated retirement contributions and other needs.

One class at the Somerset branch is scheduled to finish in June. No other classes are scheduled during the summer.

Regional campuses in Corbin, Danville and Manchester are unaffected by the decision.

KCTCS Cuts More than 500 Jobs to Close Budget Gap

May 19, 2016
KCTCS

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System has eliminated more than 500 positions and suspended some college programs, all in an effort to close a $26 million gap in its budget.

KCTCS spokeswoman Mary Hemlepp tells local media that 505 positions have recently been eliminated system-wide. She says 191 of those positions were faculty and 315 were staff, but because many of the positions were vacant or were vacated through retirements, only 45 faculty and 125 staff were actually laid off.

Hemlepp says the college system's financial problems stemmed from seven years of state appropriation cuts and an additional 4.5 percent in the next biennium. Several years of declining enrollment also led to tuition shortfalls.

KCTCS President Jay Box announced earlier this month that next year's tuition is being increased by 6.1 percent.

Midway University

The only women’s college in Kentucky will undergo a major transition this fall.

For the first time in nearly 170 years, Midway University will begin accepting men as full-time undergraduates with the fall semester.

Male students can apply to live in residence halls starting in Spring of 2017. Previously, men were accepted only in graduate or online programs.

The school’s board of trustees voted Monday to make the change.

University President John Marsden said the decision was made in order for the liberal arts university to remain viable.

Midway traces its roots back to 1847, when it was founded as the Kentucky Female Orphan School.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University has announced budget recommendations, including the elimination of 64 positions.

Multiple news outlets report school officials made the announcement Thursday.

President Wayne D. Andrews said in a statement that the cuts are in response to a budget deficit of more than $9.7 million because of declining enrollment, population and a decrease in state funding.

Of the positions proposed to be eliminated, 30 are filled and 34 are vacant. Other recommendations include a total of $4.9 million in revenue enhancements and $718,594 reductions in the university's operating budget.

A final budget recommendation is expected to be presented to the Board of Regents in June.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

The way Daphne Patton remembers it, it was more money than she’d ever seen.

It was 1990, and the Kentucky Supreme Court had declared the state’s school funding system unconstitutional. Within a year, a lot more money started flowing to the poorest school districts, a 50 to 60 percent increase in their budgets.

Patton, an elementary school teacher from Wolfe County in eastern Kentucky, says schools had an abundance of resources, “everything we needed.”

The ruling forced lawmakers to re-imagine how Kentucky would pay for its schools by mandating that they reduce disparities between rich and poor districts.

“The best of the best things happened for our kids,” Patton recalls. “We were able to buy books. We were able to invest in technologies.”

More than a third of people in Wolfe County live in poverty, but the district was able to hire more teachers. Patton says that solution is the kind of thing wealthy school districts take for granted. But this is Appalachia, she adds: Here, education is akin to an escape plan from poverty.

Henderson High School

Henderson County High School is gearing up for its new School of Fine Arts.

Current courses in voice, instrumental music, theater, dance and the visual arts will be expanded to create career tracks.

High school fine arts coordinator Brian Ettensohn is spearheading the program. He says the goal is to provide in-depth training that leads to a career path.

“There are a high number of students who are in probably band and theater, or possibly choir and theater,” says Ettensohn. “These are students that are passionate, highly passionate, about the arts. And they’re going on to college and looking at a career.”

The new program is being developed with existing staff.  So there will be no additional expense to the school district.

Ettensohn says one of the biggest challenges is parents.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is one step closer to hiring an executive search firm to look for the school’s next president.

The Board of Regents on Friday approved a motion to award a bid to the Boston-based firm Isaacson, Miller.

Dr. Phillip Bale of Glasgow, the chairman of the WKU presidential search committee, said the committee was impressed with the recent track record of Isaacson, Miller.

“They’ve done many presidential searches within the last few years. They’ve done the presidential searches for Vanderbilt, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Illinois, just to name a few.”

The proposed contract with the firm has to be approved by the state next month.

WKU

The faculty and staff at Western Kentucky University are being asked to give input related to the search for the school’s next president.

A forum for faculty is being held Friday afternoon, April 15,  on campus, and staff members are invited to a forum Friday, April 22.

WKU President Gary Ransdell has announced he’ll retire at the end of June 2017.

Doctor Phillip Bale of Glasgow, chair of the presidential search committee, says the early announcement by Ransdell gives the committee ample time to do a thorough job.

“I envision the next several months will be spent mainly developing our position profile—that is, what sort of skill set and what sort of attributes do we want the next president to have,” Dr. Bale said.

Ransdell will have served as WKU president for 20 years when he steps down.

WKU

Western Kentucky University president Gary Ransdell says the state’s universities have reached a compromise with Governor Matt Bevin and House and Senate leaders over cuts to higher education funding.

In an email to faculty and staff Saturday, Ransdell said schools would get back some of the state funding that Bevin recently cut from the last quarter of the current fiscal year. The governor had enacted a 4.5 percent cut, saying the money was needed to help bolster the state’s public pension systems.

Under the plan described by Ransdell, that cut will be reduced to 2 percent. For WKU, that means a one-time loss of $1.49 million, instead of $3.35 million.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has challenged Bevin’s authority to unilaterally enact such cuts to the current fiscal year support for universities, and has said he’ll sue the Governor over the issue.

Ransdell says the deal negotiated Friday also spells out cuts for universities over the next two fiscal years.

Creative Commons

The number of high school seniors in the state going on to pursue bachelor’s and associate’s degrees has remained steady, according to two new reports from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics.

The “Kentucky High School Feedback Report on College Going” and the “Kentucky High School Feedback Report on College Success” show that six in 10 graduates of public high schools in the state in 2014 enrolled in college and scored as being better-prepared for college courses. The figure was virtually identical in 2013.

Of those 2014 graduates, more than 50 percent were pursuing a bachelor’s degree and about 36 percent were seeking an associate’s degree.

Both the highest and lowest percentage of high school graduates attending college can be found in Jefferson County.

Dupont Manual High School has the highest percentage at 92 percent, while Valley Traditional High School has the lowest percentage at 33.9 percent.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell has issued a statement Friday morning in response to Gov. Matt Bevin's order that state universities immediately incur a 4.5 percent funding cut.

Bevin has told his Finance and Administration Secretary and Budget Director to make the cuts to the quarterly transfers of funds scheduled to take place Friday to the state's eight public universities and Community and Technical College System.

Here is Ransdell's statement:

"We are aware of the Governor's decision to proceed with cutting 4.5 percent from university budgets by withholding it from the fourth quarterly allotments that are scheduled for today. Our budget is complex and nearly two-thirds personnel. We will likely have to tap some of our reserve funds to manage a $3.5 million reduction at this late date in the fiscal year, but we will make those decisions in the next few days.”

University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey also issued a statement Friday morning.

WKU

Kentucky’s higher education institutions would compete for a portion of their state funding under the Senate’s budget proposal, which will be fully unveiled later this week.

The competition would be based on degrees produced, graduation rates, retention rates and closing “achievement gaps” among low-income students and underrepresented minorities.

“Whoever’s excelling deserves to be rewarded,” said Sen. David Givens, a Greensburg Republican and main architect of the policy, which he said would go into effect in 2018.

Schools would be separated into three tiers and compete for about 25 percent of their state funding.

The University of Kentucky and University of Louisville would compete in the first tier. The second tier would include the five regional universities: Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Morehead State University and Murray State.

Creative Commons

Kentucky high school students would have to pass the same test given to people seeking U.S. citizenship in order to earn a diploma under a bill that has cleared the Senate Education Committee.

The bill would require students to answer correctly on at least 60 of the 100 questions to pass. Students could take the test as many times as necessary to pass.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter of Berea said the bill would make sure students have the same educational foundation as people who want to become U.S. citizens.

If it passes, the testing requirement would take effect on Jan. 1. The Kentucky Department of Education would have to create the tests. Special accommodations would be required for the blind and hearing impaired.

A debate over how to teach religion to public school students in Tennessee is rocking school districts around the state. Activists and concerned parents worry middle school students are being “indoctrinated” with a sanitized version of Islam.

The issue has made its way to the state legislature. One proposal would restrict discussion of religion until the end of high school. Chas Sisk of Here & Now contributor WPLN has the story.

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