Recommendations for the overhaul of public financing of education
FRANKFURT, Ky. — A joint task force created to study how Kentucky currently funds K-12 public education has approved nine recommendations to better ensure that school districts receive equitable and efficient resources.
“These recommendations are the result of six months of research and stakeholder input,” said Rep. James A. Tipton, who served as House Co-Chair. “I look forward to working with the rest of our colleagues to implement what we can during the 2022 regular session, as well as charting a course to achieve all of our goals as soon as possible. K-12 already accounts for more than two-fifths of our general funds, and our goal is to ensure that funding is invested efficiently and equitably.
The first recommendation is also the biggest change since the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was passed in 1990. The panel recommends recalculating how Kentucky funds education by measuring the number of students in a school district. rather than a student’s daily attendance. While concerns were raised about the change devaluing school attendance, the coalition of lawmakers and education officials stressed that the cost of education does not change whether a student is there 95% of the time or everyday.
“This decision will not create chronic absenteeism or remove the responsibility to attend school, but an honest reading of the state of the game shows that schools need to focus more on attendance than instruction. these days,” Tipton said. “Schools exist to educate, and we have truancy laws in place to address attendance issues. Let teachers teach and put the focus back on instruction. This is a decision capital to make wise investments that best fund the education of all Kentucky students.
The initiatives presented by the task force are firmly rooted in the legislature’s commitment to historic investment in education. The recommendations include full public funding for full-day kindergarten and a host of complementary services, such as bus routes, mental health resources and school resource officers. After a one-time investment of $140 million to fund full-day kindergarten this year, House members have already introduced legislation to make it a permanent state expense going forward.
The recommendations also include a host of regulatory measures that continue an ongoing conversation about the use of public education resources, such as exploring how best to inform others about a bill’s potential cost and impact on school districts.
“With decisions like this, there will be criticism,” the Spencer County Republican continued. “Let’s not forget our most important asset here, our children. It is important to remember that schools with lower average daily attendance generally have more students facing economic disadvantage at home or in their community. We want to level the playing field, so that they get a fairer share of state resources.
During the 2022 Regular Session, the General Assembly will consider the recommendations presented by the working group. For more information and to view the report, visit the Legislative Research Commission website.
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