Mayfield Elementary School (Mayfield Independent) 3rd-grade teacher Kim Smith speaks with state Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, and state Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, after giving emotional testimony regarding teachers work hours during a House Education Committee meeting. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 13 , 2012

Mayfield Elementary School (Mayfield Independent) 3rd-grade teacher Kim Smith speaks with state Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, and state Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, after giving emotional testimony regarding teachers work hours during a House Education Committee meeting. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 13 , 2012

By Tracy Goff-Herman

After 60 days, the 2012 Regular Session of the General Assembly has finished its work with 1,407 bills considered and a new state budget that covers the next two fiscal years.

Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed several budget measures, including some new initiatives that were passed without any money to support them. 

Here’s a look at some of the budget and legislative highlights:


With the continuing national recession, Kentucky’s revenue situation hasn’t improved.

As such, the newly enacted budget reflects additional cuts to operating and program budgets. HB 265 contains the state operating budget for the next two years.

Several key P-12 education spending measures  spending measures were included in the budget. That includes the total Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) appropriation is $2,899,840,800 for each year of the biennium.

The base per-pupil allocation is set at $3,833 in FY 11 and $3,827 in FY 12.

In addition to SEEK, the budget:

  • Contains disaster day language will allow school districts impacted by the March tornadoes more flexibility in calculating attendance.
  • Includes language that requires SEEK funds to be directed to two National Guard Academies.
  • Adds $600,000 in spending over the biennium for hearing, speech and visually-impaired learning centers, but doesn’t include any additional funds to pay for those designated programs.

 The governor vetoed many items in the state budget, including:

  • language requiring excess SEEK to go to the Budget Reserve Trust Fund
  • $1.6 million in spending over the biennium for a statewide IT Academy, which was created through legislation during the session but did not include an appropriation in the budget
  • language limiting the number of Program Reviews to only arts & humanities, writing and practical living/career studies

Additional information on the governor’s proposed budget can be found at the Office of the State Budget Director’s website under “2012-2014 Executive Budget Recommendations.”


In addition to the budget, the session also yielded a few new laws that focus on P-12 education.

Laws originating in the Senate included:

 SB 24 (J. Higdon) makes two changes to the statute in its current form. First, the bill changes the “cut-off” date for eligibility for enrollment for 5- and 6-year-old students from October 1 to August 1, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Second, the bill requires local boards of education to provide a policy allowing parents to petition the board for enrollment of students who will not be 5 years old before the “cut-off” date, beginning July 12, 2012. 

 SB 38 (J. Westwood) is known as the “career pathways” bill and requires the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to issue core content standards for career and technical education, assess student progress and develop new courses relevant to college and career readiness.

Kentucky is participating in the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium’s (NASDCTEC’s) initiative to update the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC). The new proposed standards for career and technical education are now going through a public comment period, with final standards scheduled for release in June 2012. At that point, Kentucky will be able to decide whether or not to adopt the new standards.

SB 43 (D. Parrett) will require the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) to promulgate administrative regulations for an alternative high school diploma for students with disabilities completing a modified curriculum and an individualized course of study. Currently, a certificate of attainment is provided to those students with disabilities completing a modified curriculum and an individualized course of study. 

SB 95 (M. Wilson) encourages the establishment of summer learning camps for students who are identified for Title I services and meet certain minimum requirements. Many districts provide summer learning camps, but the bill requires that for districts that do not offer such programming, funds be used for closing the achievement gap. 

School districts will now be required to submit a summary annual report for each summer learning camp in the district to KDE. KDE will develop a reporting form and provide a statewide report citing best practices and success stories. The legislation also requires KDE to be able to provide disaggregated state academic assessment data for participants.

Also, the provisions of HCR 42 were added to the bill, which requires the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) to establish a legislative task force to develop a strategy to provide computing devices for 5th- and 6th-grade students. The task force must report findings to the Interim Joint Committee (IJC) on Education no later than December 1, 2012.

SB 110 (K. Stine) provides limited civil immunity to school districts and personnel who make school property available for recreational or non-school use by members of the community during non-school hours. The bill permits a local board to authorize the public use of school property pursuant to board policies. This bill doesn’t change any current ability of local districts to decline a request or charge for the use of facilities. 

The following bills that originated in the House also were passed into law:

HB 37 (C. Rollins II) is known as the “district or schools of innovation” bill. It authorizes the KBE to approve districts of innovation, with no limit on the number of districts eligible to participate in the program. KBE must promulgate administrative regulations to prescribe the conditions and procedures that will be used to designate a local board of education a district of innovation. The bill stipulates that in order for a school to be eligible to participate, 70 percent of its employees must vote in favor of becoming a school of innovation.

HB 69 (L. Belcher) will require school districts to report to KDE on the use of K-3 Response to Intervention (RtI) implementation. RtI will be required in reading by August 1, 2013, in mathematics by August 1, 2014, and behavior by August 1, 2015.  KDE must provide technical assistance, training and a Web-based resource to assist all school districts in the implementation of the system and instructional tools. This legislation also requires an annual report by KDE to the IJC on Education, with the first report due Nov.30, 2013.

HB 168 (J. Jenkins) restricts how a superintendent can assign a teacher to alternative education programs. The language prohibits a superintendent from assigning a teacher or classified person to an alternative program as part of any disciplinary action or as part of a corrective action plan.

HB 255 (R. Adkins) changed drastically during the session and ended up being the vehicle to provide relief to those districts impacted most by the tornadoes. The new law will provide a sales tax refund for the purchase of building materials to repair or replace a building damaged or destroyed during a disaster. 

The bill also extends current disaster day provisions and requires the commissioner of education to waive up to 10 instructional days for a school district located in a county in which a disaster has been declared. The law will allow a school district located in a county in which a disaster has been declared to substitute attendance data for school year 2010-11 for attendance data for school year 2011-12 for the purpose of calculating SEEK. 

The bill does require certified and classified personnel of a school district located in a county in which a disaster has been declared to make up any student instructional days waived by participating in instructional activities or professional development or by being assigned additional work responsibilities. 

The bill applies retroactively to the disaster occurring from Feb. 29 to March 3, 2012. The bill is effective immediately.

HB 278 (C. Rollins II) transfers the Governor’s Scholars Program from the Office of the Governor to the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

HB 281 (J. Jenkins) expands current training requirements to include recognizing and treating concussions and head injuries for all interscholastic coaches. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) will be responsible for oversight. KHSAA will be required to adopt rules governing interscholastic athletics to develop specific emergency action plans to deal with serious injuries.

HB 366 (W. Stone) changes current restrictions for superintendents’ spouses. A spouse who has at least eight years of service in school systems may be an employee in the district in which the superintendent is employed. The previous restriction required the spouse be employed for 20 years. The applicant is allowed to be employed only upon the recommendation of the principal and approval by majority vote of the school council.


In addition to laws, the legislature also passed several three education-related resolutions.

HCR 29 (D. Graham) encourages public institutions – including public schools – to promote and encourage outdoor activities as a part of childhood development and activities that develop balanced learning.

HCR 129 (J. Tilley) establishes a task force to study the Unified Juvenile Code and charges the task force with studying  status offenders; the use of community resources; alternatives to detention; reinvestment of savings to create community based treatment programs; feasibility of establishing an age of criminal responsibility; issues related to domestic violence and its impact on children exposed to domestic violence; issues related to special needs children; and use of validated risk and needs assessments. The task force must submit a report to the LRC by Nov. 1, 2012.

HCR 155 (R. Damron) directs the LRC to establish a task force to study interscholastic athletics at the middle school level. The bill requires findings and recommendations to be reported to the IJC on Education and the IJC on Health and Welfare by Dec. 7, 2012.

While the session had several education bills that passed, there were several noteworthy bills that didn’t make it and that will likely be pursued during the next regular session including: new guidelines for training superintendents (HB 342); raising compulsory school age attendance from 16 to 18 (SB 52, SB 109, HB 216); updates to due process procedures for teachers (SB 132); teacher evaluation system (HB 40); childhood obesity and physical activity (SB 39, HB 68, HB 494); and work time for teachers (HB 473). 

NOTE: Legislation passed during the 2012 Regular Session of the General Assembly, except for general appropriation measures and those containing emergency or delayed effective date provisions, will become effective on July 12, 2012, according to the Kentucky Attorney General.

Tracy Goff-Herman is the Kentucky Department of Education’s legislative liaison to the Kentucky General Assembly.