Future Unclear For Key K-12 Equity Programs

by | Feb 15, 2018

Budget recommendations so far offer few clues to the financial future of seven P-12 programs that target support to Kentucky students with distinctive needs:

  • Extended school services programs that provide additional instructional time outside the regular school day for students at risk of not meeting academic expectations. ESS funds may also be used during the regular school day with permission of the commissioner of education.
  • Family resource and youth services centers that offer preventive and referral services to address student needs that could interfere with their learning.
  • Gifted and talented funding that supports individualized services for students who are able to perform at exceptionally high levels, based on general intellectual aptitude, specific academic aptitude, capacity for creative or divergent thinking, psychosocial or leadership skills, visual or performing arts talents, or any combination of those abilities.
  • Preschool that prepares four-year-olds with low family incomes and for three- and four-year-olds with disabilities to enter school ready to learn.
  • Read to Achieve grants that fund reading diagnostic and intervention programs for struggling primary school program students.
  • Safe schools funding that supports alternative school services for students whose needs cannot be met in traditional classrooms, taking varied approaches to remediate academic performance, improve behavior, or provide an enhanced learning experience.
  • State agency children funding that provides instruction and support for children who are educated in group homes, juvenile justice detention centers, mental health day treatments, residential treatment programs, community-based shelter programs or hospital settings after being assigned to state custody or supervision. These dollars support educational programs that offer a longer school year, intensive staffing ratios, and other services.

These programs get no individual mention in Governor Bevin’s budget recommendations or the initial version of House Bill 200, this year’s budget legislation. They aren’t on the list of seventy programs to be eliminated, but they also are not shown with line items saying what each will receive.

If the House follows past practice, it will fill in the line items during committee work on the budget. Sometime in the next month or so, we’ll see an explicit plan for what support each of these seven important programs will receive.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that five of those seven programs have taken substantial cuts over the last decade, as shown in the chart above. Only the preschool program has seen real growth in funding, while family resource and youth service centers have seen an increase far too small to keep up with inflation.

It’s also worth noting that current preschool funding is not close to adequate. As shown in the Prichard Committee’s recent report, “Building Blocks: The Kentucky Early Childhood Cost of Quality Study,” current funding is not even enough to support programs that meet minimum state preschool requirements.

Bottom line: for Kentucky’s pursuit of excellence with equity, some very important funding figures are still “to be determined” in the current budget process.

ABOUT THE PRICHARD COMMITTEE

Since 1983, the Prichard Committee has worked to study priority issues, inform the public and policy makers about best practices and engage citizens, business leaders, families, students, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states for education excellence and equity for all children, from their earliest years through postsecondary education.

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