Funding Kentucky's Future

By Michael Gossum | 

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- "They haven't had new textbooks in six years. It's time to re-invest in the SEEK formula," said Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Kentucky.

"This is my 37th year in education, and I would say we're certainly at a point that I really can't recall in the past," said Bowling Green Schools Superintendent Joe Tinius.

Educators said the Commonwealth of Kentucky was in a difficult state when it came to funding education, especially K-12.

"Local school districts have to bear the burden to balance the budget and provide the unfunded mandates that have come down from the state," said Warren County Schools Rob Clayton.

SEEK funding had not seen an increase in six years, and with the number of students increasing in school districts, money was being spread thinner.

This includes a shortage of funding for textbooks, technology and more.

"We couldn't continue down that same road and at the same time hope to continue to progress as a state, and to see students success continue to grow," said Tinius.

"Transportation costs have really hit school districts of our size. Over the past five years, we've seen those expenses rise 50%, but there has been no additional revenue provided to cover and offset those expenses. So, we again have to dip into the general fund to find the resources to cover those expenses," said Clayton.

So, republicans and democrats including the Governor knew it was time something had to be done, and in his budget address last week he made a statement.

"It makes damaging cuts in many areas in order to keep Kentucky at the forefront of educational attainment in this nation," said Beshear.

This budget includes 5% cuts to many agencies and a 2.5% cut to higher education institutions like WKU, but for fiscal year 2015 he's adding $71 million and another $118 million in 2016.

Beshear said this will bring per student spending to its highest total ever in our history.

"The governor in his proposal has restored funding for textbooks for extended school services, for professional development, for faculty and staff. Certainly the textbooks and the extended school services, those are direct services," said Tinius.

This budget is in an early stage, but so far, there are some long needed answers for funding Kentucky's future.

This budget proposal will likely not be the same at the end of this session, because the senate and the house both will get a chance to make changes.

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