Group pushes Kentucky to spend additional $1 billion on education by 2026

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is calling on state lawmakers to invest an additional $1 billion in education spending by 2026. Graph courtesy of the Prichard Committee. Read the full plan at prichardcommittee.org

After a decade of plummeting investment in Kentucky’s public schools, colleges and universities, an advocacy group has a big request for lawmakers – step up spending on early childhood, K-12 and higher education by $1 billion.

“We can’t continue to disinvest in education,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

The group last month unveiled a funding framework to invest in K-12 priorities like all-day kindergarten, school transportation costs, child care assistance and millions more in the state’s performance funding model for postsecondary education.

Under the Prichard Committee’s plan, spending increases would begin in fiscal year 2021 and escalate through fiscal year 2026.

Additional investments are needed, according to the committee, to roll back a decade of state budget cuts and investments in education that the group said haven’t kept up with the cost of inflation.

Since 2008, state spending on Kentucky’s public colleges and universities have plunged by 33 percent, according to the group. That forces low-income students, many of whom are first-generation college students, to shoulder a growing burden, the group said.

Additionally, with Kentucky ranking among the poorest states in the country, state spending per student has fallen by 12 percent since 2008, the group said.

The group said rolling back those declines starts with millions more in spending on early childhood education. Specifically, it’s asking for $251 million in additional funding to provide child care assistance to 23,000 children in low-income families and another $80 million for preschool supports.

When students start kindergarten unprepared to learn, they’re at risk of falling behind, and Ramsey said Kentucky has lagged in that area.

“We’ve lost a lot of ground on enrollment in high-quality early childhood programs,” she said.

When it comes to kindergarten, the Prichard Committee is pushing for $140 million to cover the cost of full-day programs for schools. Currently, local districts have to foot the bill if they want to offer daylong kindergarten programs.

The group is calling for another $162 million to fund school transportation, which was slashed in the 2018-20 budget. That cost produces some of the most out of balance expenses for school districts in Kentucky, Ramsey said, especially geographically larger counties.

With fundings for teacher training eliminated altogether during the last budget cycle, the Prichard Committee wants lawmakers to allot $58 million for a Fund for Teaching Excellence.

Ramsey said the fund could be used to immediately support professional learning to increase the effectiveness of teaching and thus classroom learning – particularly in strategic areas like third-grade reading and math proficiency.

Rounding out its request from state lawmakers, an additional $311 would be used to fully fund the state’s performance funding model for public colleges and universities. Separately, $30 million would go toward expanding need-based aid and offer 18,000 more College Access Program grants to low-income students.

With other states putting money back into higher education, including Tennessee, Ramsey pitched the Prichard’s Committee framework as an achievable way to keep Kentucky competitive and to lift communities out of poverty.

“This is a plan to support Kentucky’s future,” Ramsey said.

– Read the Prichard Committee’s plan in its entirety with this article at bgdailynews.com.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdaily news.com.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

(4) comments

Enough Already

Our public school educational-industrial-complex is driving for the goal in order to steal even more money from the treasury of Kentucky! Has anyone ever noticed that as the schools get worse they always plead for more money to fix them? We pay the top people 6 figure salaries and the performance of their organizations get worse every year. These people all have advanced degrees and all of our teachers had to have a masters until a couple of years ago, and yet they consistently turn out a substandard product. Isn't it time they do the job we pay them for? Their grandparents did a better job with half the resources they have today.

"$251 million in additional funding to provide child care assistance to 23,000 children in low-income families and another $80 million for preschool supports."

In what world is this "education"? The state has no business providing additional welfare programs mislabeled as education. It is no wonder property taxes are out of control for "education". This needs to be removed from under the "education" umbrella. All welfare programs need to be separated from the public school system. They are already to big and powerful.

"Prichard Committee is pushing for $140 million to cover the cost of full-day programs for schools. Currently, local districts have to foot the bill if they want to offer daylong kindergarten programs."

This is a LIE. The TAXPAYERS would have to foot the bill and we have not authorized it! The last time I checked the local school district produced NO revenues but they did spend 100% of our taxes given to them. Does anyone think that if they were given additional revenues for all day kindergarten that they would return any money to the taxpayers at the end of the year? I don't.

"The group is calling for another $162 million to fund school transportation, which was slashed in the 2018-20 budget."

It needs to stay slashed. If kids are still getting to school and they are, then the additional money is not necessary. No kids are walking 5 miles to school, uphill both ways in a snowstorm like you and I did.

"Prichard Committee wants lawmakers to allot $58 million for a Fund for Teaching Excellence."

How is it teachers no longer know how to teach effectively, and just what is "Teaching Excellence"? Could this be elaborately catered and tax payer funded seminars and symposiums that are fun to attend but worthless in the world of improving your kids understanding of the material teachers are supposed to teach? This looks like an excuse to piss away $58 million dollars.

"$311 would be used to fully fund the state’s performance funding model for public colleges and universities. Separately, $30 million would go toward expanding need-based aid and offer 18,000 more College Access Program grants to low-income students."

More welfare but now for adults? 18,000 more College Access Program grants??? Absolutely not!

As long as universities are offering worthless pseudo-degrees in "women or minority studies no public money should be spent there. In addition, not every kid needs college nor will utilize a college degree. College is optional, not mandatory. Let them work out their own financing if they want additional education. The legislators needs to tell the Pritchard committee to go pound sand.

Le Ecrivain

The socialist EU with it's free healthcare and free college, so it has an endless supply of skilled workers --- has almost 80% employment rates. Kentucky has 59%. The jobs just aren't there. Opening the doors like Tennessee for the whole community so the parents can prosper is a much better investment than funding the superintendent's little high tech fiefdoms. All that funding of students won't stop the childhood development issues stemming from poverty of the parents.

Le Ecrivain

For the Record, Tennesse offers universal community college for free to all residents. And it cost 198,000,000. That is 1.5 years of the proposed spend of the education lobby above and it would obliterate unemployment in this state just like it did in Tennessee, who found themselves with the lowest unemployment in the country, because liberal democracy, like in Europe, works, and drives employment rates through the roof.

Le Ecrivain

Tennessee was able to over universal college for free for 1/10th of that ten year increase. This kind of bad mathematics for what actual benefits the economy and the parents instead of just the teachers, is why education cronies in government is a bad idea. For a billion dollars they could nuke poverty by offering universal college, or free retraining into licensed jobs like RN for people who already have worthless degrees in stuff like business.

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