Friday, November 22, 2013

Almost 120 districts signed on to finance new study of whether Kentucky's K-12 funding system is adequate

This from KSBA:
The head of the 169-district Council for Better Education said Thursday that the new study to determine how much money is needed to adequately finance Kentucky public schools is underway.
Supt Tom Shelton

Fayette County Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said 119 districts have signed up at 25-cents per student, and he expects more will join to help cover the projected $130,000 cost of the study. Picus, Odden and Associates, a consulting firm with researchers who helped develop Kentucky’s SEEK school funding formula, has begun the work.
“It’s not a study of SEEK,” Shelton said. “It’s a study of what level is needed to adequately fund education and how should it be distributed across the state.”
Shelton spoke in Lexington at Thursday’s “Our Students Can’t Wait” school funding summit, hosted by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and the Kentucky Education Action Team, a coalition of the state’s major school instruction, leadership and advocacy organizations.

According to Shelton, the study has four parts:

      · Developing an understanding of the current SEEK finance system
      · Collecting data on school funding from a multistate and international context
      · Establishing a rationale on equity in school funding statewide
      · Creation of a new model that would generate a dollar amount to adequately fund K-12 schools.
      Shelton said the study is necessary because the General Assembly is using “reverse math” to determine how schools are funded.

“What’s happening now is our legislature is backing into what the base per pupil SEEK is needed,” he said. “Some people think we’re not taking a cut. It’s creating issues with the base and with equity issues. To deal with equity, we must first deal with adequacy, so we aren’t dealing with a small pie and slicing it into different pieces. Adequacy is creating an equity issue across our state. We are back about the same point as we were in the 1980s.”

That was a reference to the CBE’s origin and its lawsuit that led the Kentucky Supreme Court to declare the state education system unconstitutional. The resulting Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 led to creation of the SEEK funding formula.

“People ask me if this study is a precursor to litigation,” Shelton said. “My answer is ‘Yes and No.’ We’re not undertaking this study in order to initiate litigation against the General Assembly.

However, if we did sue, we would have to have this study as evidence to mark our argument.

“What we plan to do is to use this study to educate, to help people understand what we know is true,” Shelton said. “This study will help continue to put Kentucky at the forefront of education reform for each of our students through adequate and equitable funding.”

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