Season’s greetings! I hope that readers of this blog will take time over the next couple of weeks to relax and spend time with family and friends. The holiday season is an excellent time to recharge your batteries. I plan to do just that, so this will be my last blog for 2014, but will return to the keyboard for a January 9, 2015 entry.
As we look forward to the New Year, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is preparing for a busy legislative session. Here are some of the hot topics we predict will be on the education agenda for the upcoming General Assembly.
1) Charter Schools – we will again see legislation to create charter "
schools in Kentucky. Our state is one of only eight states without
charters. I am hearing about the possibility of a small pilot of
five to six charter schools in districts that have very low-performing
schools with significant achievement gaps.
2) Teacher Pension Plan – the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System
has asked the General Assembly to consider a plan that would require
a $3.3 billion bond to shore up the underfunded retirement system.
This system is critical for recruitment and retention of high-quality
3) School Funding – while 2015 is not a budget session, there are
a number of funding issues that could surface. The Council for
Better Education report recently released at the Kentucky
Association of School Superintendents’ winter meeting will garner
a lot of attention. The $2 billion-plus price tag is sure to get attention. |
Also, KDE will be releasing a report on funding of the career and
technical education programs in Kentucky. Finally, we may see
discussion of impact of revenue shortfall and SEEK shortfall.
4) Dual Credit – a recent set of recommendations from the dual
credit task force will generate discussion about how to ensure
quality, access, funding, and transferability of courses.
5) Merging County Systems – several county school systems
have been identified for state assistance and state management.
Some county systems are very close to not having a 2 percent
fund balance. The General Assembly previously enacted legislation
that allowed a financially insolvent independent district to merge
with a county system; however, currently there are no statutes that
allow for the merger of an insolvent county system to merge with
6) Closing Achievement Gaps – this issue will be part of the
charter school issue but will also be an overarching theme of the
Education Committees. The achievement gap in Kentucky begins
before students enter kindergarten, continues throughout P-12,
postsecondary, and is very obvious when we look at labor and salary
studies for adults.
At the national level, KDE will be working to support reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – most recently dubbed the No Child Left Behind Act – and the Carl Perkins Act which is the primary vehicle for federal funding of career and technical education. We are very excited about the potential of both bills moving forward very quickly under the leadership of Sen. Alexander of Tennessee and Majority Leader McConnell.