The Kentucky Education Action Team (KEAT), which includes organizations promoting K-12 education, is praising Gov. Steve Beshear and the 138 members of the General Assembly for increasing support for public schools during the 2014 legislative session. In addition, the KEAT organizations got a pat on the back from two of the state’s top education leaders.

KEAT representatives co-signed at letter to the governor and all legislators, offering appreciation for making elementary and secondary education a priority in the just-completed legislative session.

“On behalf of the 155,000 Kentuckians who are members of the organizations that are part of the Kentucky Education Action Team, thank you for supporting Kentucky’s public schools during the 2014 General Assembly. We know the decisions you faced were not easy. You exercised political courage to prioritize education. Your decisions to increase SEEK and Flexible Focus Funds and to make important investments in early childhood are instrumental in assuring our state’s future,” the letter read. “As you know well, the work to support for our children never ends. The restoration of school funding to 2008 levels is only the beginning. We had not yet made up the funding we lost during the last six years. Our organizations and members stand with you in the hard work of building our future. As you consider tax reform in the future, we will support your efforts to assure adequate funding levels for good public schools. Investments in education and quality early childhood programs pay off in the long run with a stronger workforce, a more engaged citizenry and a stronger economy. Thank you for your service to Kentucky and for your decision to put a priority on public schools and early childhood.”

The letter was signed by Wayne Young of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Mary Ann Blankenship of the Kentucky Education Association, Ronda Harman of the Kentucky Association of School Councils, Eddie Squires of the Kentucky PTA, Bob Wagoner of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association and Stu Silberman of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, David Baird of the Kentucky School Boards Association and Wilson Sears of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

Meanwhile, KEAT member organizations themselves were saluted for their work during the 2014 session. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Kentucky Board of Education Chairman Roger Marcum expressed state leaders’ appreciation for the lobbying work done by the KEAT members across the state.

“On behalf of the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education, thank you for working so closely with us during the recent legislative session. We appreciate your support and efforts to restore funding for elementary and secondary education in the commonwealth. The education community has been dedicated to working together and agreed to prioritize and focus on restoration of funding to SEEK and ‘flex’ focus programs as well as focusing efforts on technology needs. This collaboration was an essential ingredient in the success that we had in getting many of the programs funded that will move our education system forward,” Holliday and Marcum said in their letter.

“Overall, legislators indicate that they were pleased with our joint efforts in approaching them this session. Our joint agenda was concise and targeted, which was of great assistance to many of them. Again, we offer our thanks and deep appreciation for the hard work and efforts all of you have put forth to enable this to be a successful session for Kentucky’s students,” the letter said.

KEAT was formed in 2012 to advocate for restoration and enhancement of funding for K-12 schools. Prior to and during the 2014 legislative session, KEAT members used a campaign theme “Our Kids Can’t Wait” to urge state leaders to bring SEEK and flex focus program funds back to 2008 levels.

In the final budget, Beshear and the legislature added $189 million to the SEEK formula over the biennium and restored funding to some of the flex focus programs as well.