Kentucky Will Compete for
$200 Million in Federal Funds for Schools
Surrounded by educators and legislators from both parties, Governor Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed HB176, an education bill that allows the state to compete for up to $200 million in federal stimulus dollars to improve schools. The Governor commended state legislators on their bipartisan efforts to quickly pass the bill – the first legislation to emerge from this session.
“The quick and cooperative work to turn House Bill 176 into law is cause for celebration, not just for the precedent it sets, but also because of what it enables us to do,” Gov. Beshear said. “I want to thank members of the General Assembly from both parties for working together to pass this bill, which reflects our shared vision to improve education in the Commonwealth.”
In addition to ceremonially signing HB 176, Gov. Beshear also signed Kentucky’s application for the federal “Race to the Top” program, an initiative that pits states against each other to compete for money to implement school improvement plans. “Race to the Top” is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal stimulus package which set aside $100 billion for education-related support. In addition to possible “Race to the Top” funding, passage of HB 176 also makes Kentucky eligible for $45 million in federal Title 1 School Improvement grant money. The application will be delivered tomorrow to the United States Department of Education.
“Thanks to the support of Gov. Beshear, the House and the Senate, along with local school officials, school boards, teacher representatives and education partners across the state, Kentucky will lead the nation in the next wave of educational improvement,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “This is a very public show of dedication to our state’s public school students, teachers, administrators and parents, and all of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
Gov. Beshear thanked the committee chairs, Rep. Carl Rollins and Sen. Ken Winters, for their efforts in working across party lines to unanimously pass the bill in both chambers. The bill also had the unanimous support of the state’s 174 school districts – which will add more points to Kentucky’s competitive score in “Race to the Top.”
“We must invest in our young people,” said Senate Education Committee Chair Ken Winters, of Murray. “That starts with making sure low-performing schools receive appropriate attention.”
“This law does two things: First, it makes our application that much stronger, but just as importantly, the speed in which it was enacted also shows federal officials just how committed we are to taking our schools to the next level,” said House Education Committee Chair Carl Rollins, of Midway. “I want to thank my colleagues in the General Assembly, Governor Beshear and education officials around the state for coming together on this, and I hope we hear great news soon.”
“With the clear support of our legislature and our school districts, I am confident that we have a strong application for further federal funding for education,” Gov. Beshear said.
About Race to the Top
The federal Race to the Top fund is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program, designed to reward states that are improving schools in four areas:
· Enhancing standards and assessments;
· Improving the collection and use of data;
· Increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution; and
· Turning around low-performing schools.
The U.S. Department of Education will announce “Race to the Top” awards in the spring and fall of 2010.
SOURCE: The Gov