Kentucky Political News Headlines

Thursday, June 28, 2018

BR Sub on Education

By Dustin Miller

Commissioner Lewis and Associate Commissioner Kinney gave a presentation on the KDE budget, and a copy of their slides are available HERE. Below is a summary of key points and legislative questions, but would say the two main takeaways from the meeting are: 

- Though P-12 education received more dollars in SEEK, overall it was underfunded.
- On JCPS, Commissioner Lewis could not provide an estimate of the possible costs for state management of JCPS. He says this isn't possible until JCPS in coordination with KDE puts together a school improvement plan and that plan can not be developed until the KBE puts JCPS under state management and that process is not complete.

Other notes and legislative questions:
- Slide 3 notes - Didn't get SB 1 and full-day kindergarten dollars. Also only received 1/2 of funding for SEEK transportation
- Overall message...glad to have gotten more dollars, but still $300 million short
- Slide 8, noted that FRYSC's down in KDE budget, but received additional dollars in CHFS budget, up slightly over this biennium.

Rep Huff asked if 25 positions removed worked with districts or were they administrative? A. All district focused

Rep. Flood asked about technology funding and FRYSC's?
Lewis answered and said that FRYSC's is very important helps impact poverty which impacts learning. In addition that decisions at KDE should be data-driven and thus technology is important. 

Rep. Flood asked about PD funding and teacher development resource funding that was cut and isn't that important?
Lewis says PD is important and understands the difficult budget situation legislators faced but hopes in the future that PD funds can be increased.

Rep. Flood asked what are your top 3 goals for funding in the future?
Lewis hard to say at this point. Dealing with the current budget and will work with current KBE to set those goals in the future. 

Rand asked about program elimination in the instructional resource, what is in the $16.7 million?
Kinney: could be textbooks, computer purchases, but it varies by district.

Rep. Rand asked about cuts at KDE office, and whether there were resources necessary to manage JCPS, will it divert funds from other districts?
Lewis clarifies that he has made a recommendation, but nothing has happened yet. Hard to answer the question, because the management plan won't be put together until after the district is actually under management. Statutes and regulations say that a plan doesn't have to be put together until the KBE puts the district under management. It will be costly, but reminds members that a significant amount of dollars from KDE are already spent in JCPS.

Rep. Rand asked about Lewis' top priorities for KDE?
1. Skills Gap and CTE
2. Early grade literacy and numeracy before 3rd grades including public preschool
3. High school graduation requirements - Needs to be stronger
4. Closing the achievement gaps

Rep. Brown asked about Safe Schools funding? 
Kinney says that KDE partners with KY Center for School Safety who will get those funds. Things they do include district audits and training that are district-facing. Lewis mentions that some go for school resource officers.

Rep. Brown asked about preschool and full-day kindergarten funding?
Lewis gave a detailed answer about how the funding works for both. But specifically noted that public preschool works well and is a good program and that there are lots of kids who qualify who don't get in because of funding, which is a problem. *Very supportive of public preschool.

Rep. Brown also concerned about quality of diploma and shares concerns of Lewis about graduation requirements. 
Lewis coming to KBE in August with new regulation strengthening graduation requirements 

Rep. Huff asked about number and list of districts that don't provide full-day kindergarten? Lewis thought it was very low, but would get data to her.

Rep. Tipton noted that an alarming number didn't meet the ACT benchmarks set by CPE, which is the "college ready" number.

Sen. West how much was KDE cut? 
$54 million, but specific to Frankfort, 6.25% cut of $24 million KDE Frankfort operations

Sen. West asked about SEEK increase, do districts have an ability to use those dollars for PD, textbooks, etc? 
Yes those are flexible 

Sen. West wants to see changes to PD and new teacher development. If in two years PD is increased then would like to see these changes as part of that

Rep. Riley also spoke about PD and new teacher development and echoed the comments of Sen. West.