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Kentucky Education Budget Proposal Includes Expanded Preschool for Poor Kids

 At its meeting in Frankfort Thursday, the Kentucky Board of Education started talking about what to include in its 2018-20 biennial budget request.

According to Kentucky Department of Education staff additional money will be needed to implement Senate Bill 1 (2017) for a study to ensure assessments are aligned with standards, test item development, an additional college admissions exam, industry certification expenses, revised data collection and reporting, and school improvement, among others.

Other items discussed include $157 million to expand the number of 4-year olds in poverty who can be served in state preschool, $343.8 million for statewide all-day kindergarten, and $266 million to support 100 percent of school district transportation costs.

The items included in the list are based on input from education partners and districts. In total, the additional funding requests exceed $800 million.

The board will revisit the budget numbers and set funding priorities at its October meeting before submission to the governor's office in November. The governor will submit the executive branch budget request to the General Assembly in January.

On the recommendation of the nominating committee, the board unanimously elected Mary Gwen Wheeler as chair and Rich Gimmel as vice-chair of the board for the upcoming year.

“This is a really critical juncture in public education,” Wheeler said. “We are about to approve an accountability system that really tries to incentivize deeper learning, the ability to close our achievement gaps, and acknowledges and values the whole child. We are looking at charter schools, and there are many other things on our plate that truly call us to be transformational leaders to support our mission to ensure that each and every child across this Commonwealth is empowered and equipped with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to pursue a successful future. It's really an honor to serve with each of you in leading this board." 

On another item, the board learned that Kentucky once again led the nation in participation in a biennial working conditions survey. More than 41,000 school-based certified educators responded to this year’s Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky Survey – a record breaking 91 percent response rate.

“It is so important that we hear what our teachers think,” Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis said.

Ellis said results show improvement in each one of the survey areas every time it has been given. This year, educators rated instructional practices and support the highest. Participants noted the use of time as the most challenging area, though it saw the most growth since the 2015 survey. Managing student conduct was down slightly from 2015.

Kentucky schools and districts use the results from the survey to improve working conditions, which in turn positively impact student learning.

-Staff report