Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kentucky’s lowest-performing schools eligible for $45 million this year – with strings

State’s Race To The Top application team hard at work

This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:

Kentucky’s academically lowest-performing schools are about to be eligible for new federal funds to help dramatically improve teaching and learning. But before those federal funds – $50,000 to $500,000 this fiscal year – flow to those schools, they must meet “very prescriptive” requirements, according to state officials.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday revealed that Kentucky is eligible for $45 million in Title I funds this year — and lesser amounts over the next two years — during Thursday’s first meeting of the Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTTT) Advisory Council. That panel of 14 from KSBA, KASS, KASA, KEA, KASC, the Prichard Committee and other groups will spend the next 14 weeks working with KDE staff and a California consultant to craft Kentucky’s application for a portion of $4.3 billion in RTTT stimulus funds.

“The $45 million in school improvement grants are for those schools in the lowest 5 percent in the state,” Holliday said...

Rules being set by the U.S. Department of Education will be very specific as to which schools may receive the funds and how those dollars may be used. “We’re not going to have a lot of leeway as to who we can support with this money,” [David Cook, KDE’s RTTT project manager] said. “It’s going to be the schools most in need.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday school districts that win the funding through applications must adopt one of four improvement models:
  • Replacing the principal and most of the current staff,
  • closing the school and sending students to a higher-achieving school,
  • turning the school over for operation by a charter school or an “education
    management organization, or
  • “transforming” the school through a set of 11 strategies that schools would have to implement.

...During a detailed briefing about the RTTE application process, Holliday and Cook downplayed the much discussed question of whether Kentucky’s lack of charter schools will work against the state in seeking a share of the multi-billion dollar funding.

“Secretary Duncan and President Obama are not interested in ‘more’ charter schools. They’re interested in charter schools that are about providing services to children who may not be getting those services in their current situation,” Cook said...

Panel co-chair and state Education Secretary Helen Mountjoy gave the K-12 and higher education representatives a straightforward message – there’s a lot to do in order to meet the deadline of having an application for the federal stimulus money ready for Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature by mid-December.

“It’s time for us to look at what the next 20 years will bring, at what the next generation of schools will look like,” Mountjoy said. “Although there is the lure of money out there, this is the work that we need to be doing in Kentucky regardless of a federal impetus.


Anonymous said...

it’s time for us to look at what the next 20 years will bring

Same old people = same old results.

Set a 20-year-goal, get 14-15 years into it, see that it isn't going to work, scrap it, and set another 20-year goal.

Sound familiar--2014 was supposed to be the magical year...set by many of those "brilliant minds" who are now around the table setting a new 20 year goal.


Richard Day said...

Hey. Take it easy on that old people stuff.

You know, dismissing advances made under KERA because it did not produce magic misses the big picture. Expecting world-class results on a less-than-average budget is either crazy or highly aspirational.

I think the cost/benefit ratio on reform has been pretty good. For the first time in a long time, Kentucky has fought its way out of the cellar. That's something we old-timers can be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Most advances you and others seem to think happened under KERA are largely figments of your imagination. Redistribution of state funding to ensure districts without an adequate tax base received at least a basic level of funding was an advancement. Site Based Councils was not an advancement -- just another level of bureaucracy.

So, let's get specific...exactly what KERA initiatives do you consider "advancements"?

Less than average budget? That's only what spoiled, public school educators say. Stop the waste and you would have a more than adequate budget. Do you know how many millions were wasted on CATS testing over the past 9/10 years? Do you even know what the yearly budget is for a district like Fayette County? Do you know how that money is being spent?

I'm sure you don't know the answer to any of these questions without doing some research. And, even if you do your research you still won't know the answer to the third question. So, don't talk to me about "less than adequate funding"...most of you experts don't even know what current funding exist for public schools and for public school educators no amount of funding will ever be adequate.

Here is an easy one for you. What percent of the total KY state budget goes to education?

And lastly, the reference above wasn't to "old people" was to the "same old people" ;-)

Richard Day said...

I consider Kentucky's rise from 49th in student achievement to 34th, or so, to be an advancement.

I consider the focus on the achievement of all students to be an advancement - the major advancement.

We might agree that Kentucky would be better off with a different tax structure. But as long as it's based on a property tax - there will always be redistribution. That's because it's a state tax - collected locally. The state owes the same duty to all of its citizens, and that includes the fundamental right to an adequate education - another advancement.

I liked school councils. They created more work, but more citizens got involved in the schools, and I think that was an advancement.

Now, I'd like to see some enterprising Kentucky principal take Sec. Mountjoy up on her implicit offer that schools can request braod waivers of state policy akin to charter schools. That theory should be tested - if only to see if its' real. I wonder how close to a charter school one might get.

Yes, less than average is mathematically correct. Look at the other states.

Actually, I teach some of the stuff.

We have about 660,000 students in Kentucky. How many should we allow to grow up ignorant and incapable of competing in an increasingly high-tech world?

Would it cost less to export Whitley County kids to Bangalore India for schooling? They could wait there for the "American jobs" to show up.

We spend about $4 and a half billion (of a $24 billion state budget) at present - keeping them here with their folks.

As for FCPS, I used to know, but now it's somewhere around $400 million or about $10,000 a kid, and those figures are above the state average. As I recall Silberman cut about $4 million from the budget. He could cut the other $396 million and some folks still wouldn't be happy - but the good news is that we'd eventually become so stupid and poor that no one would notice.

The budget is public record and not too hard to come by.

Last I heard, there were still some problems with the chart of accounts. That makes it difficult for the state to collect some kinds of totals, but at the district level it's fairly accurate. Any citizen with an education, can obtain, read and understand where the money goes.

Percentage of the state budget?
About 20% Add Post-secondary and it doubles. So what?

Thanks for the questions. It's good for us old folks to refresh our memories of the data from time to time. : )

Anonymous said...

I support our President! I'm glad he cares about education! Thank you, Mr. Silberman, for requiring FCPS students to watch the President speaking on September 8th. Mr. Silberman is really showing his support for public education and I thank him. Let's make Kentucky rise again with education.

Richard Innes said...


RE: Your State Funding Statistics

I don’t know where you got your numbers, but everything I have seen pegs K to 12’s share of Kentucky state tax dollars at around 40% to 45%.

I think you are comparing single fiscal year school money to the state budget figures, which are for a two-year period. That’s an invalid comparison.

Richard Innes

Richard Day said...

2009 budget figures from ...but I didn't save the particular link.

Your numbers are right but it for both. About the same size (another 20%) what we spend on Medicaid.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know where you got your numbers,...

And that's my point...people who continuously cry for more spending in public school education, don't even know how much we are currently spending or where it's going.

Richard took a stab, but was way off...on both the state and FCPS numbers. Of course, I would venture a guess that he was closer on the FCPS number than any current FCPS school board member would be if asked and they couldn't ask their sup to get them the answer...that's the real scary part here. And to assume that any citizen could get the budget numbers from FCPS and know where the money is going is naive at best.

This isn't a stab at Richard either...I have a lot of respect for you Richard...I'm simply making the point that money isn't the answer to the public education problems in this state or any other and people who constantly say it is don't even know how much is currently being spent or where it's going.

Richard Day said...

Way off? I may have been a little off, but hardly way wrong.

Check it out.
Here's KDE's Fact Sheet:

I said 660,000 Kentucky school students. It's up to 671,466 now. I can live with that.

I said $4.5 billion - It's really 4.56 billion; I'm pretty pleased with myself for that one.

I looked up the state budget numbers here:

As for Fayette County:

Total budget $407 million.
Per pupil = $10,437
State average per pupil = $8,839.
And Silberman did cut $4 million a while back.

Trust me. I may not be perfect, but I don't just make this stuff up.

I agree that money (alone) is not the answer. It is necessary, but not sufficient. It takes strong leadership, courage at times, and the single-minded dedication of highly skilled teachers to each and every child. It takes a lot of hard work and is aided greatly by parental partnerships.

The problem with discussions that focus on budget totals only is that they miss the objective. We can't spent the same amount each year and keep up with other nations that are beginning to pass us by. Our economy needs more highly skilled workers to compete in the future as effectively as America did in the past. Some of that training needs to be pretty sophisticated.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

$407 million is an estimated "operating" budget. What's not (or maybe I should say, how much is not) accounted for in an "operating" budget that the tax payers still shell out for?

Silberman cut $4 million...right...he also "evaluates" his employees...that's his story and he's sticking to it, I'm sure ;-)

While we're on the topic, he must have cut that $4 million right after he took a $20+ thousand dollar pay raise just a couple years ago...check it out...when he was hired his salary was $180,000...what is it now? I don't think teacher pay increased at the same rate ;-) And, I think this was just before he and his "rubber stamp" board passed the largest property tax increase in FCPS history. If money is not the answer, someone sure needs to tell that to Stu and company!

I will say, Kudos to you Richard for approving comments that are counter to some of your own views.

Richard Day said...

Yeah, the estimated budget is a normal part of the process. It's a budget. To get firm number you have to wait til next year...or look a 2008 numbers.

I think Silberman's salary is around $212,000. Right?

By the way, I would have voted for the nickle tax too. Many of the facilities in Fayette County needed work. For example, Cassidy's renovation was about 8 - 10 years behind schedule because we couldn't afford it.

Thanks again. I dish it out. Sometimes I have to take it.