Education Funding

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

A rural school collective in eastern Kentucky has received a multimillion dollar extension of a US Department of Education grant. As Benny Becker of the Ohio Valley ReSource reports in the series Changing Course, the federal money helps offset some chronic problems with school funding.

Kentucky Department of Education

Ben Cundiff, a new member of the Kentucky Board of Education, says the commonwealth’s schools need more priority in funding from the state legislature.

belchonock, 123rf Stock Photo

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities. The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for August 18.

Let's begin with a choice.

Say there's a check in the mail. It's meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?

It's not a trick question. It's the story of America's schools in two numbers.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (via WFPL)

  State spending on elementary and secondary education in Kentucky has dropped at one of the highest rates in the U.S. since 2008, according to a report released Thursday from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The shock of the recession still lingers in public schools across Kentucky.

In fact, the results of a recent report from the Washington D.C. based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the state spends $561 less per student in fiscal year 2015 than in fiscal year 2008. Adjusting for inflation, the rate is about 11 percent less than than the 2008 rate.

State legislators are slowly turning the rate around, said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association.

A review of higher education budget issues has included a call for merging education administration and urging university presidents to become more politically vocal. The discussion occurred during a meeting of the state budget review committee.

State Council for Postsecondary Education President Bob King set the stage. He presented a number of graphs to committee members. One depicted steeply intersecting lines with increasing tuition costs and decreasing state funding support. King said since 2008 funding cuts per college student far outdistance reductions for children in kindergarten through high school.


State Senate President Robert Stivers says rising Kentucky property values could ease the demand for school funding.

The Republican says he's open to increasing the state’s share of elementary and secondary education money. Education leaders are pressing lawmakers to restore funding to pre-recession levels. The Department of Education wants $336 million from the Commonwealth for the two-year budget cycle that begins in July.


Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says teachers could faces layoffs and school districts could fail financially if education funding is not restored.

Holliday has pushed lawmakers to restore per-pupil funding levels to pre-recession levels. That request is more than $250 million dollars for the two-year budget that lawmakers will set when they return next year.