During the third meeting of the Kentucky Career and Technical Education (CTE) Task Force Aug. 21, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Associate Commissioner David Horseman offered a recommendation for a phased approach to funding and governance alternatives for a new unified CTE system in the Commonwealth.

The task force was created at the request of the Kentucky Board of Education earlier this year in an attempt to address inequities in the CTE system. It is expected to make recommendations prior to the 2020 biennial budget session.

Horseman’s recommendation to the task force, chaired by Sen. Mike Wilson and Rep. Bobby McCool, includes two phases, the first of which would last from 2020-22; the second phase would begin in 2023.

CTE is currently delivered through state-operated area technology centers (ATCs), locally operated career and technical centers (CTCs) and local area vocational centers (LAVECs) that receive supplemental state funding. Secondary CTE is also offered in the majority of the state’s comprehensive high schools; however, these programs do not currently receive supplemental state funding.

Two of every three Kentucky high school students are enrolled in CTE career pathways. Of those pathways, 85 percent are connected to occupations within the state’s top five industry sectors and 15 percent are connected industries that support those top five industry sectors.

Horseman said during phase one, KDE will work collaboratively with the General Assembly to determine ways in which pathways could be funded in the future. During this time, the policies and procedures for requesting, approving and closing programs that receive state funding also would be established and existing conflicts between statutes and regulation would be corrected.

“We’re working with the Kentucky Center for Statistics to find out what are the most in-demand industries by region,” said Horseman. “Educating our communities about what meaningful jobs are in those communities will be important to creating CTE programs that will be beneficial for both students and local industries.”

Also as part of phase one, ATCs would be analyzed to determine which would transition to local control. A system to incentivize districts to collaborate – like at the iLEAD Academy in Carrollton – also would be created. This would allow for greater efficiency through the utilization of regional offerings and partnerships

Under Horseman’s recommendation, following phase one, legislators would work to design legislation that would support equitable CTE program implementation that includes:

  • A system for locating and funding programs and future centers;
  • A mechanism to transition ATCs to local or shared governance.
  • Creation of a funding mechanism for equipment upgrades.
  • A structure for continuous improvement and expansion of CTE in Kentucky.

Members of the task force thanked Horseman for the recommendation, noting that it provides a good starting point for discussion.

“We’ve got to do some heavy lifting to change the way we do technical education in Kentucky,” Sen. Jimmy Higdon said. “This is important.”

The next meeting of the task force will be Sept. 11, when the Southern Regional Education Board will present research on career and technical education structures in surrounding states.