Kentucky task force backs funding for full-day kindergarten | #schoolshooting


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A push to turn financial support for full-day kindergarten into a permanent commitment in Kentucky picked up momentum Monday when a state school funding task force endorsed the proposal.

It was among the funding recommendations the task force presented for Kentucky lawmakers to consider during their 2022 session, when they will craft the state’s next budget.

The task force also urged lawmakers to develop plans for full state funding of school districts’ transportation costs and to fully fund a school safety measure enacted two years ago.

They also urged lawmakers to consider altering the state’s school funding formula.

“This is kind of like nine things on your child’s Christmas wish list,” Republican Sen. Max Wise, the task force’s co-chairman, said in summing up the recommendations.

“We will provide this … to House and Senate leadership, and we’ll see what the best we can do. But I do think these are excellent recommendations,” he added.

Funding support for full-day kindergarten emerged atop the wish list items from the task force, which spent the past several months studying K-12 funding. The panel urged the legislature to permanently authorize full funding of kindergarten in state law.

Earlier this year, the Republican-dominated legislature allocated state funds to pay for full-day kindergarten, but the extra spending was limited to just one school year.

GOP Rep. James Tipton has prefiled a measure for the 2022 legislative session that would secure state funding to cover the entire cost of full-day kindergarten as a permanent expenditure. Tipton served as the other co-chairman of the school funding task force.

Full-day kindergarten is common across Kentucky. Until this year’s action by lawmakers, school districts received state funding for half-day kindergarten, with districts using local taxpayer money to pay for the rest of the costs for full-day classes. Education leaders and advocates have long pushed for more kindergarten and preschool funding.

The task force also urged lawmakers to develop a plan to free local school districts from the burden of transportation costs. The goal is to return to full state funding of those costs to transport students, the group said. Districts now cover some of those costs, diverting funds from classrooms.

“Our recommendation is let’s see if we can get on a path toward 100% (state) funding,” Tipton said in an interview. “We understand it may not all happen in this (next) budget, but hopefully we can make some progress on that and get on a path forward.”

Another task force recommendation called for a plan to achieve full funding of the state’s 2019 school safety law, which was intended to boost police protection and counseling in schools. The legislation was passed in response to the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky. Two students were killed.

State lawmakers have not fully funded the school-safety measure since its passage. A recent report from the state school security marshal found the vast majority of schools had implemented pieces of the law that required one-time costs, like security upgrades. But a majority of schools had not hired enough school resource officers or mental health counselors — provisions of the law requiring districts to pay ongoing salaries, the Courier Journal reported.

The task force also urged lawmakers to provide funding to expand use of family resource and youth services centers. Those programs are meant to enhance the ability of students to succeed in school.

Another recommendation calls for a “school district impact statement” to be attached to bills. It would inform state lawmakers of a measure’s potential cost to local school districts.

Meanwhile, another recommendation asks lawmakers to consider changing a key component in the state’s school funding formula. The state now uses a school’s average daily attendance in the funding calculation. The task force suggested switching to an average student membership model, which would base funding on how many students are on a school’s roster.

But the task force said the change should be done “in a manner that minimizes extreme funding changes for school districts while also maintaining incentives for student attendance and accountability for school districts.”

Democratic Rep. Tina Bojanowski, a task force member, referred to the proposals as “reasonable.”

“I think you have really moved this state forward over the summer with this task force,” Democratic Sen. Reggie Thomas, another task force member, told the Republican co-chairmen.



Source link

.  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .   .    .    .   .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .  .  .   .  .