Friday, November 06, 2009

School News from Around Kentucky

Former Dunbar coach pleads guilty: Former Paul Laurence Dunbar High School baseball coach Mickey Marshall pleaded guilty Friday to two misdemeanor charges of theft "by failure to make a required disposition" involving money from the baseball booster club. Marshall, who led the Lexington school to two state championships and was named 2007 Coach of the Year by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 11 in Fayette Circuit Court. He also faces a restitution hearing Nov. 13. (H-L)

Lawmakerswill face a$1.19 billion question: When lawmakers return to Frankfort in January, one number will loom large: $1.19 billion. According to preliminary estimates, that's how much money lawmakers must find in the couch cushions of state government to continue spending at current levels through June 2012. (H-L)

Superintendents oppose using contingencies to bail out state: House Speaker Greg Stumbo has proposed tapping school districts' contingency funds to help balance the state's 2010-2012 budget, a move that has local officials scratching their heads. "I think most educators right now are a little bewildered with the proposal," said Campbellsville Independent Superintendent Mike Deaton. Taylor County Superintendent Roger Cook had the same reaction. (Central Kentucky News Journal)

Stop stalling on tax overhaul - It's essential for state's prosperity: Gov. Steve Beshear should apply the same logic to tax reform as he's applying to education. Even though this recession has the state struggling just to maintain what we have, Beshear has commissioned an education task force to put together a coordinated plan for the next stage of reform. That way, Beshear says, when the economy turns around and there's money to improve education, Kentucky won't waste time figuring out the smartest ways to do it. Makes sense. Likewise, it seems to us, with tax reform. If lawmakers created a more sustainable tax base now, by raising some taxes and lowering others, when the economy turns around Kentucky would receive maximum benefit from the upturn. (H-L)

“Hands off!” educators tell legislators: The Franklin County Board of Education has told state officials to keep their hands off the school system’s rainy day fund. Superintendent Harrie Buecker, five school board members and two student representatives publicly signed a resolution Monday expressing their “strong opposition” to a possible legislative grab of school districts’ budget contingencies to reduce the state deficit. (State Journal by way of KSBA)

Budgets tight, but Maysville alive and well: Area officials warned of a continued tightening of the budget for the next few years during a "state of the community" program at the Maysville-Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce's November membership meeting Thursday.Rep. Mike Denham warned of cuts on the state level, with the state facing a $160 to $500 million deficit for the upcoming year. While the upcoming fiscal year may prove a challenge, it is the following two years that Denham said may be the most difficult years he has faced in the legislature. Anticipated shortfall is $1.6 billion."That means we are going to have to start cutting essential services," he said. "We are one step away from turning prisoners out on the streets." (Maysville Ledger Independent)

Percentage of minority officials up: The number of minority public officials in Kentucky increased slightly from 2008 to 2009, but non-white elected officials still make up only 2.8 percent of those surveyed, according to a report released Friday. (H-L)

Race to the Top funds might force change to Charters: Kentucky might have to find new ways of turning around badly failing schools — including the option of converting them into charter-like schools — to get all the federal money it hopes to receive under the $4.35 billion "Race To The Top" program, a state education official said Monday. David Cook, the state department of education's advisor and project manager for the federally funded program, said that the guidelines might require states to at least have the ability to create charter-like schools in situations where traditional schools are badly failing their students. (H-L)

Recharging state's education reform: The intense competition among states for $4 billion in federal education grants is forcing Kentucky to think seriously about a couple of missing links in education reform: how to improve teaching and how to turn around chronically failing schools.
That last challenge has people you'd never expect uttering thec-word: charters...It's been 20 years since the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the children can't be deprived of an education because of where they live. Even without the incentive of the federal money, Kentucky should be looking for ways to aggressively remake chronically failing schools — and worry later about what to call it. The quality of teaching in Kentucky should also get a needed boost from the competition for federal dollars. Among the requirements are two political hot potatoes that can no longer be avoided: tying teacher evaluations to student performance and using teacher evaluations to judge teacher-training programs. (H-L)

Universities to request 'modest' funding increases: Leaders of Kentucky's public universities will plead for slight increases in state funding over the next two years but, at the very least, want to avoid deep cuts when federal stimulus money goes away starting in July 2011... According to a draft recommendation, they will propose a total increase of 4.6 percent for next year and 2.7 percent increase in fiscal 2012, with much of the money for maintenance and operations of new buildings. (H-L)

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