K-12 Education Remains Focus of Budget; WKU Still Seeing Cuts

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) -- "This budget that we're presenting this morning delivers better education for all Kentuckians, better care for the most vulnerable learners in our school systems and also a better bang for the buck with federal matches," said Rep. Kelly Flood D-Lexington.

There were several sub-committees and different topics presented, but K-12 education has been the biggest all year.

Flood left much of what Governor Steve Beshear proposed in January in this budget, including SEEK funding boost and focus on text books.

"We are in the transitional generation of going from hard cover books to digital content and all of what that means. This recognizes that shift and allows us to both get the infrastructure in place through the bonding and to adapt our classroom experience to a new age, but still provide books where they're necessary," said Flood.

School districts will be glad to hear what's proposed by House lawmakers regarding SEEK.

"The sub-committee recommends adding language directing that any SEEK excess funds be directed back to the schools, keeping the schools front and center," said Flood.

Lawmakers are asking for a raise for teachers, and are also asking for a raise for those who work in the courts.

"We tried our best to help those who are at the lower end of the salary schedule, rather than those that we're at the top," said Rep. Jesse Crenshaw D-Lexington.

Along with judicial and education subcommittees, there were other aspects of the budget talked about as well.

While it was good news for K-12 education, lawmakers in the house left the two-point-five percent cuts to higher ed institutions like WKU.

Lawmakers also added into the budget the ability of schools to forgive ten days due to something like snow.

The House version outlined Monday drops a recommendation by Gov. Steve Beshear that would have let county property valuation administrators charge new fees to special taxing districts. The House plan provides an extra $2 million in operating funds for PVAs.

The House plan closely mirrors Beshear's proposal to increase funding for the state's main funding formula for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. Rep. Kelly Flood says the proposal will result in better education.

The House plan includes funding to hire more social workers and provide pay raises for court employees.

Lawmakers on the committee could vote on it Tuesday, and then take it to the House floor.

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