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."
A top state official is hoping twenty-first century technology will help Kentucky school children learn about the importance of agriculture. The Mobile Science Activity Centers” will begin touring the state this fall.
The 44-foot trailers are decked out with 11 iPads a 70-inch LED monitor and a touch screen desktop computer – all paid for by a public-private partnership between the Agriculture Department and over a dozen industry groups.
"Most school children are two, three, or more generations removed from the farm," said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. "The Mobile Science Activity Centers enable kids to learn about agriculture's importance in our everyday lives."
The schedule for mobile units is jam-packed for the next three school years.
Studies suggest reading to children early in their development enhances their vocabulary, helps them identify letters and become better readers. Yet, less than half of U.S. children are read to on a daily basis.
To counteract that problem, reading is being doctor-prescribed in certain parts of the commonwealth, like Muhlenberg County.
Dr. Billie Galyen sees about 6,000 kids a year at her pediatric clinic in Greenville.
Five-year-old Brady and three-year-old Noah are there for check-ups. Every child six months to five years old leaves the office with a new book to take home and a prescription to read.
State officials are celebrating in the Capitol with an event to recognize 120 Kentucky school districts that have voted to raise the dropout age to 18.
Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Lawrence County High School senior Harley Ratliff are holding a news conference Thursday afternoon to mark the achievement.
A new law that went into effect this summer increases the dropout age statewide from 16 to 18 after 55 percent of the state's 173 school districts signed on.
The higher dropout age becomes a statewide standard by 2017.
The Beshears made increasing the dropout age a top priority after taking office in 2007.
The Kentucky Board of Education will consider final recommendations by the state’s education department this week on new science standards. Education officials received thousands of public comments on the standards, some critical of new teachings of evolution and climate change.
The board chair doesn’t expect to change the standards in response to those who question the theories.
The new standards are part of Kentucky’s 2009 education reforms. They will update what students will be expected to learn in science….and that includes teaching climate change and evolution.
Several residents voiced their opposition to these topics last month, saying the standards are based on lies. Educators say the standards are based on scientific research and will allow Kentucky’s education system to remain competitive with other states.
Some early results released from a Vanderbilt University study on the impact of pre-K education show a mixed bag. The findings so far indicate that Tennessee children who make big gains in math, reading, and language by attending pre-kindergarten don’t stay ahead of their peers for long.
But the research also shows those same children can learn other behaviors that benefit them down the road.
The Tennessean reports that Vanderbilt University researchers are counseling patience regarding the unprecedented study, which follows 3,000 Tennessee children from age 4 through third grade, through the year 2015.
One early takeaway from the study: students who attend preschool are promoted from kindergarten to first grade at twice the rate of those who don’t, and have higher first grade attendance. Researchers are wondering whether those kinds of achievements are actually better predictors of long-term academic success, as opposed to focusing solely on a child’s early academic abilities.
WKU Public Radio's interview with Richard Trollinger, Vice President for College Relations at Centre College
When it comes to financial contributions, there are major gifts--and then there's what happened Tuesday at Centre College.
The private undergraduate school in Danville has announced the largest gift ever given to a liberal arts school in the U.S, and the largest donation ever given to a Kentucky college or university.
The A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust is giving Centre $250 million in stock to create the Brockman Scholars Program in Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Forty scholarships will be awarded each year starting in the fall of 2014.
Brockman's son, Bob, attended Centre before finishing his degree at another school.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports the donation ranks among the 20 largest gifts ever given to a U.S. college or university.
Brockman Scholars will pursue degrees in several science-related fields, such as behavioral neuroscience, biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and psychology.
WKU is preparing for the possibility that state funding for higher education could someday be based--in part--on retention rates. WKU Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Brian Meredith says it's an idea being tried in other parts of the nation.
"States across the country are doing that now, looking at funding models that are taking into account graduation rates, success rates, completion rates, and those sorts of things. We're not quite there yet in Kentucky, but that could be a possibility down the road, so we're trying to get ahead of the game."
Meredith says WKU has increased the academic requirements necessary to gain admission to the school, with the incoming freshman class possessing the highest ACT scores and grade point averages of any first-year class at WKU in ten years.
Meredith says it should be easier to retain and graduate students who come to WKU prepared to take on higher education coursework.
A ruling from the Kentucky Education Commission is expected in two weeks regarding how many students the Warren County school system will allow to attend Bowling Green city schools this school year.
A 2001 agreement between the districts set a cap on the number of transferring students. But last April, the county lowered that number by about 90 students. The state would not reimburse the Bowling Green district for students over that number, but they could still attend city schools at a cost of a little over $4,000 a year.
After a three day hearing on the matter wrapped up Saturday morning, Bowling Green school superintendent Joe Tinius told WKU Public Radio there is a slight financial aspect to the controversy but he sees it as a bigger issue, saying neither side would see a net profit from the final decision.
"That's not what education is all about," said Tinius. "This is more about an opportunity for parents to have a choice on where to send their children to school."
The last-minute nature of the county's decision is also causing city schools planning problems for hiring the right amount of staff for the coming school year. "We were already well into planning for the school year and had to back up and start all over again," Tinius said. "And now with a decision expected just a week before school starts, we have to be prepared for either scenario."