KY Policy Blog

School Funding Challenges Remain as Students Return to Classrooms

By Ashley Spalding
August 16, 2017

The beginning of a new school year is often a time of excitement for kids, parents and educators. But it’s also a time state funding cuts and freezes to K-12 education may create difficulties for some school districts as they make decisions about what they can and cannot afford.

Kentucky’s K-12 funding cuts among the deepest

In last year’s report on K-12 funding by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Kentucky continued its decline in national education funding rankings, sliding to third worst in the nation based on cuts read more

Too Many Community College Students Are Hungry or Homeless

By Celena Snoddy
August 10, 2017

While community college is typically thought of as an affordable option for earning a degree, a recent report shows this is often not the case. Too many community college students do not have consistent access to food or stable housing, which makes it difficult for them to be academically successful. These issues likely contribute to Kentucky’s low community college graduation rates as well as achievement gaps for low-income and underrepresented minority students.

The report describes findings from a survey of basic needs insecurity (i.e. food and housing) among community college read more

How Cuts to Federal Non-Defense Discretionary Funding Would Impact Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
August 8, 2017

When Congress returns from its August break, the House is expected to vote on their plan for 2018 appropriations that includes cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, as well as deep cuts to entitlement programs. The proposed cuts to NDD programs would harm our state’s ability to improve education, support children and families, make our communities safer and healthier and develop the workforce and economy.

As noted previously, the proposed House appropriations for NDD programs would be 17 percent below what was appropriated in 2010 after adjusting for inflation and read more

Continuing General Fund Erosion Is More Evidence of the Need to Clean Up Tax Code

By Anna Baumann
August 2, 2017

As a share of the economy, Kentucky’s General Fund is worse off today than before the last positive effort to clean up the tax code under the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) took effect – 5.9 percent in 2017 compared to 6.4 percent in 1990 (see graph below). Due to the growing number and size of tax breaks in Kentucky’s tax code, General Fund revenue eroded relative to the economy for two decades after KERA and has largely stagnated since 2010. In fact, weak revenue growth in 2017 put the read more

Tuition Increase Ceilings Announced

By Ashley Spalding
March 31, 2017

Today the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) announced the maximum in-state undergraduate tuition and mandatory fee increases the state’s public universities and community colleges will be allowed to charge students in the coming year. These tuition caps range from zero at the University of Louisville (at their request) to five percent at four of the state’s comprehensive institutions. In the coming months, the higher education institutions will decide how much to increase tuition and fees within these limits. While college affordability is widely understood to be a serious challenge in read more

Charter School Legislation Passes, But Questions and Concerns Remain About Funding

By Pam Thomas
March 17, 2017

The Kentucky General Assembly gave final approval to charter schools in the waning days of the 2017 legislative session after heated and lengthy debate in both chambers. The approval came in two parts, with the operating provisions included in House Bill 520 and the funding provisions in House Bill 471. The funding provisions in HB 471 raise new questions about how the funding for charter schools would actually work and many of the concerns we previously expressed continue as charter schools will inevitably divert funding away from our state’s existing read more

Funding and Accountability Concerns Still Apply to Senate Version of Charter Bill

By Ashley Spalding
March 15, 2017

An amended version of House Bill 520 passed the Senate Education committee this morning and is now heading to the Senate floor. The changes made to the bill were relatively minor and the concerns we expressed previously still apply.

The changes made to the version of HB 520 that passed the Senate include clarification around definitions (for instance, which mayors can be authorizers); when a traditional public school can convert to a charter; teacher qualifications; and the lottery process that occurs when more students are interested in attending a charter read more

Big Funding Concerns with Amended Charter Bill

By Ashley Spalding
March 3, 2017

The amended version of House Bill 520 — the charter school legislation that passed the House today — rightly prohibits virtual charter schools, but other changes made to the bill raise new issues and concerns. There are big problems and unanswered questions with how the funding for charter schools will work, and funds for existing public schools — which are already stretched thin — continue to be in jeopardy.

Here are some of the changes made in HB 520’s committee substitute:

Changes that addressed concerns expressed about earlier drafts: Virtual read more

Tax Credit Doesn’t Help Kentucky Schools and Kids

By Anna Baumann
March 3, 2017

A recent op-ed from the sponsors of private school tax credit proposals in this year’s General Assembly suggests the program would help provide educational opportunities to families in need and save the state and local schools money. But “Ed Choice” tax credits are simply back-door private school vouchers aimed at shifting resources. They reduce the dollars available for public education, limiting schools’ ability to help low-income children succeed.

The Legislative Research Commission is the source of the $76 million price tag on the bills in the program’s sixth year. In read more

Layers of Concern in Funding for Charter Schools

By Pam Thomas
March 1, 2017

There are many reasons to be concerned about funding for charter schools as proposed in HB 520. Local public school districts could lose control of a number of different resources and funding streams in the required transfer of monies to charter schools, adding stress to their budgets and including the loss of monies that may have nothing to do with the services charter schools offer.

Traditional public schools lose authority to direct resources under HB 520

On the surface, HB 520 seems to safeguard traditional public schools from large financial read more