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.