Wednesday, February 17, 2010

School News from Around Kentucky

3 sites added to National Register: The National Park Service this month added three more Northern Kentucky historic sites to the National Register of Historic Places. The Courthouse Square District in Newport, the vacant Thomas Edison Elementary School in Covington and more land surrounding the Col. Abner Gaines House in Walton joined the registry in the most recent round of approvals this month. (Enquirer)

House leaders set to reveal budget plan: House leaders are poised to unveil a state budget proposal that cuts more than 250 political appointees, trims spending on private contractors, tink ers with the state health insurance program and delays some construction projects. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, also said the plan will rely on $220 million in not-yet-approved federal support for the Medicaid program. The proposal, which Stumbo described vaguely for reporters, would eliminate a projected $400 million shortfall in the first year of the two-year state budget. Much of those savings would carry over into the second year of the budget, but lawmakers still must determine how to overcome a remaining $200 million shortfall in the second year. "We have balanced in the first year, we have some carry forward actually, and we are very, very close in the second year," Stumbo said. The first year of the budget, which begins July 1, does not include any cuts to the main funding formula for schools or cuts to the state Medicaid program, Stumbo said. (H-L)

Dropout bill wins panel's approval: With strong urging by first lady Jane Beshear, the House Education Committee overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday to raise the school dropout age from 16 to 18 by 2015. However, the bill does not provide the $15 million a year needed to fully implement it, said its sponsor, Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg. (H-L)

Dropouts could harm Ky.’s future: Madison County Superintendent Thomas Floyd and his teachers have the data. They can point to students in fifth and seventh grades and tell which are likely to drop out before graduating.For the past three school years, 81, 81 and 83 students have dropped out in Madison County. Yet, Floyd thinks there are ways to reduce that number — all he lacks is the resources.“We could develop an alternative model to the later grades which is very different from the way we do it now,” Floyd said. “We have a plan. If Kentucky establishes some funding we can put it in place. But if Kentucky continues to offer the same model in use today and assumes the kids in the fifth and seventh grades who are not performing at grade level will graduate, then our economic forecast is not very bright.” (Daily-Independent)

New dropout age would aid state: On average, a high school graduate will earn $7,000 to $10,000 more per year than a high school dropout. By itself, this statistic provides ample reason for the General Assembly to pass House Bill 301, which would boost Kentucky's dropout age from 16 to 18 by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. In addition to providing that high school graduate with a better lifestyle than the dropout can expect, that extra $7,000 to $10,000 also contributes to an improved economy for the state. (H-L)

Bill could restructure principal hiringLocal educators support legislation to change hiring procedures: A proposed power shift in the method used to hire school administrators isn’t meeting much resistance in Hardin County. Local educators and members of school site-based decision making councils mostly are supportive of House Bill 322, which proposes altering the principal-selection process. (News-Enterprise)

STANDARDS - Kentucky implements real education reform: Americans have grown accustomed to education reforms that don’t deliver, so new initiatives for improving education are met with healthy skepticism. “Education reform” has too often been code for spending more taxpayer funds on public education — without improving academic performance. But there are exceptions. And we think the Kentucky Board of Education’s action last week is a step in the right direction...Kentucky joined a handful of other states in requiring all high school juniors to the take the ACT college entrance exam. Doing so carries the risk of exposing weaknesses in the state’s preparation of students. It took courage, but it was the right thing to do. It means Kentucky has to pit its average scores against states where students choose whether to take the ACT — and they’re mostly high-achieving, college-bound students. Adopting the common core content standards also took courage. Educators who have examined the new standards predict they will be tough to implement and cause a little pain. Even so, the standards should be the floor, not the ceiling for student performance. Individual districts, schools and teachers should not hesitate to challenge their students to reach higher. (Paducah Sun)

Core standards: This week, Kentucky became the first state to adopt new common core academic standards for math and English in public schools...Let's hope the promising start of collaboration, connection and cooperation among those players delivers what the standards are designed to do: bring Kentucky into an almost nationwide consensus and understanding among 48 states of what is expected of students (Alaska and Texas are sitting this one out), align teaching materials to internationally benchmarked standards, provide best-practices professional development for educators, and test student performance against the common core state standards (the new tests will start in the 2011-12 school year). As Gov. Steve Beshear said, this means academic success in Kentucky would match the same success “in North Dakota or North Carolina.” (C-J)

Superintendents ask legislators for flexibility in making spending decisions: A trio of superintendents asked legislators Wednesday to grant district leaders greater flexibility to make school spending decisions in light of past and potential future funding cuts. Anna Craft of Letcher County, Brady Link of Christian County and Tom Shelton of Daviess County made the case for greater local decision-making options in testimony before the elementary and secondary budget subcommittee of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee meeting in Frankfort. (KSBA)

Frankfort Independent Schools - Vote ahead on courses needed for graduation: The Frankfort Independent Board of Education could vote on a proposal next month to cut four classes from its graduation requirements over the next two years. Students at Frankfort High School need at least 26 credits to graduate under current school board policy. That would drop to 24 credits for the class of 2010 and 22 for the class of 2011, according to the proposal presented to board members Tuesday. Kentucky requires a minimum of 22 credits to graduate from public high school. (State Journal by way of KSBA)

Teen arrested in Central High School shootings: A Louisville teenager was arrested Monday in the shooting of two women outside Central High School during Friday night’s homecoming basketball game. Parrish Hayden, 18, is being held in the Jefferson County jail without bond on two counts of assault and wanton endangerment after police said he shot into a crowd outside the school. The two women who were injured, ages 21 and 18, were not the intended targets... “They just happened to be part of the crowd,” walking with the intended target... (C-J)

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