Tuesday, May 11, 2010

School News from Around Kentucky

State reports revenue down in April - 5.4 percent drop from '09 period: State tax receipts fell in April, raising the possibility of another revenue shortfall before the fiscal year ends June 30. The Office of State Budget Director reported Monday that revenue to the state General Fund was 5.4 percent below the level for April 2009. The General Fund took in $782million last month, compared with $826.7million the previous year. Through the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, revenues to the General Fund are down 3.6 percent from the first 10 months of last year. The current state budget anticipates that revenues will fall by 2.7 percent this year. So, the budget office reported, revenues must grow by 1.8 percent during the final two months of the fiscal year to meet the amount anticipated in the budget. (Courier-Journal)

Stumbo: Beshear looking at new budget proposal: Governor Steve Beshear’s staff is working on a new proposal for a two-year spending plan after legislators in both chambers failed to pass a state budget in April, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Monday...Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said late Monday that staff “continue to work on the budget.” She did not confirm whether the Democratic governor is working on a compromise budget or when such a proposal would be announced. Beshear has said he would call a special legislative session sometime in May to address the budget and has warned that a partial shutdown of state government will occur if no budget is passed before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. Details of what services would be discontinued are still being worked out. (Bluegrass Politics)

Frost Middle avoids shutdown, but major changes planned for other schools: Troubled Robert Frost Middle School won't close, but it will undergo a major overhaul before the next school year — replacing its principal, site-based council and up to half its teachers, the Jefferson County school board decided Monday night. Frost is one of six low-performing schools in the Jefferson County Public Schools system that will see changes in its administration and faculty under the overhaul approved Monday night. The others include Western Middle and Western, Shawnee, Fern Creek and Valley high schools. (Courier-Journal)

School readiness grades take big jump: Advances in getting children prepared to start kindergarten are some of the main accomplishments of the region's urban school systems.
Leaders of the Strive education partnership say math scores also are improving and more students from Cincinnati, Covington and Newport are enrolling in college. Those are some of details in Strive's annual report, unveiled Monday. (Enquirer)

Ludlow coach, 22, dies of heart attack: A popular young assistant football coach and substitute teacher at Ludlow High School has died of an apparent heart attack. Jordan Logan, who was just 22 years old, worked out with the football team Friday, then went home where he apparently suffered the attack and was discovered by his parents. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, but could not be revived. Ludlow Head Football Coach Rick Hornsby said Logan was upbeat at practice Friday and looking forward to his career as a full-time teacher. (NKY.com)

Appeal will likely delay trial of Stinson and assistant coaches a year or more: The wrongful-death lawsuit against former Pleasure Ridge Park football head coach Jason Stinson and five assistant coaches scheduled for June 7 is expected to be delayed by a year or more after defense attorneys filed an appeal of a judge’s ruling not to dismiss the case. (C-J)

Former area school leader sues board - Federal lawsuit claims discrimination against May due to disabilities: Former Lawrence County School Superintendent Jeff May has filed a federal lawsuit alleging his former employer discriminated against him because of his disabilities. In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Ashland, May claims the Lawrence County Board of Education refused his requests to make “reasonable accommodations” for his disabilities, and that one or more board members engaged in “a pattern of harassment” against him either because of his disabilities or in retaliation for his complaints of discrimination. (Daily Independent)

Schools consider cuts while waiting on state budget: Fayette County Schools officials plan to recommend that the county school board eliminate two staff development and records days next year because of the same state budget puzzle. The cuts would hit about 3,000 district employees, mostly teachers, who could lose $500 to $600 each, officials say. However, the loss could be offset for many if the school board approves a planned salary increase, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. A variety of cuts are being discussed in almost every Kentucky school district, as school boards scramble to fill financial holes until the budgetary picture in Frankfort clears up. Until it does, schools won't know how much state support they'll be getting. (Herald-Leader)

Mentoring over mealsSuperintendent Smith defends lunch mentoring sessions with local students: Who Marion County Superintendent Donald Smith is having lunch with has caused some controversy locally, and it was a topic of conversation during the Marion County Board of Education meeting Tuesday of last week. During the board meeting, Board Member Bernard Miles said he had to get something off of his mind. "Just this past week, I had somebody come up to me, and wanted to know, and I understand that a teacher even made a remark to a principal, that you was having lunch with black kids and was you only concerned about the black kids," Miles said. "And I said it makes me mad that nobody even bothers to ask him what he is up to. Did they know that he was monitoring 30 children? Thirty. And it really makes me mad. It really, really does. And these are kids that need it." In March, Smith reported to the board that he had begun meeting with small groups of students at three schools in the district - Lebanon Elementary School, Lebanon Middle School and Marion County High School. According to Smith, once a month, every other month, he was planning to have lunch with approximately 10 young men and women who needed a "pick-me-up." (Lebanon Enterprise)

Lack of definitions leaves charter exemption in KDE’s bill draft uncertain: If the General Assembly were to put the Kentucky Department of Education’s new charter school language into law, it’s possible that one or more school boards would be exempt from having to consider charter applications. But which districts might qualify for the exemption wouldn’t be determined until after the legislature passed the bill into law. That’s because the exemption would rest on three key elements, none of which have been defined by the department. The draft language, released by Education Commissioner Terry Holliday last Friday, includes this proposal for a new Section 3 of KRS 160: “A district that has, as of the date of this act, an established student assignment plan that includes school choice and magnet options shall not be required to authorize charter schools under this act.” However, KDE has no guidelines spelling out what constitutes “an established student assignment plan,” “school choice” or “magnet options.” “At this point, for the purposes of the proposed legislation, we’ve not formally defined those terms,” said KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross. “If the legislation goes through, there would likely be regulatory language tied to it, and that’s where the definitions would be outlined.” There has been widespread speculation that the language was designed to mute Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s general opposition to charter schools by allowing his district to opt out of having them. (KSBA)

Charter bill may exempt Fayette, Jefferson: The Kentucky Department of Education is circulating a draft of a new state charter schools bill that apparently could exempt Jefferson County and Fayette County school districts, the two biggest in the state. Charters schools may be part of a special legislative session later this month. Passing a charters bill potentially could boost Kentucky's chances of winning up to $175 million in the federal Race To The Top program, but many state educators question whether charters are right for Kentucky. Exempting Jefferson County could eliminate opposition from Superintendent Sheldon Berman, who has suggested his district might drop its support for the state's Race To The Top application if it includes a charter schools law. A leading charter-schools supporter contended Tuesday the exemption is intended to secure the Jefferson Schools' continued support for Race To The Top. But he predicted it could backfire. "When this (Race) application goes to Washington, the fact that Jefferson County, the largest school district in Kentucky, is exempted certainly will hurt the chance of getting $175 million in stimulus money," said Jim Waters, director of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a free-market think tank in Bowling Green. "If charter schools are needed anywhere, they're needed in the largest district in Kentucky." (H-L)

Pew Backs Kentucky Preschool Expansion - Grant will help strengthen voice for early learning at state capitol: The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence has earned the support of the Pew Center on the States for a fourth year in its work to improve the educational and economic success of Kentucky by expanding access to quality preschool programs for more children in the state. The statewide citizens' organization has received a $200,000 grant from Pew, $25,000 of which is contingent on raising matching funds, for work in 2010 to bring advocates, policy and business leaders and service providers together to develop strategies for expanding quality early education programs through their Strong Start Kentucky initiative. (Prichard)

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