School Funding Task Force recommends fully funding kindergarten, district transportation

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Graphic reading: KDE News, Kentucky Department of EducationAhead of the Kentucky General Assembly’s upcoming January regular session, the Legislative Research Commission’s (LRC) School Funding Task Force met on Nov. 8 to review and approve education-related legislative recommendations.

The task force has spent the past six months working to put together the list of recommendations, said Rep. James Tipton, a list that includes fully funding kindergarten and district transportation.

“I appreciate the thoughtful work that went into this effort and the recommendations, many of which have been longstanding pain points for school funding in Kentucky,” Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass said following the meeting. “We now look to the General Assembly to act on these recommendations in the upcoming legislative session.”

Robbie Fletcher, Lawrence County superintendent and task force member, commended the inclusion of full-day kindergarten and district transportation, adding that they would be “great for every single district in our state.”

State Rep. DJ Johnson echoed Fletcher’s praise for the recommendations, stating that Kentucky is “on the right track” and he looks forward to a potential interim joint committee being established in 2022 to continue studying and reviewing issues related to school funding.

“I think we’re beyond the first step in this process,” he said. “I hate it when we say that we’re on the first step only. We’re beyond that, but we’re not at the last step yet either. I think that interim committee for 2022 will be vital and very much worthwhile.”

Upon approval, the recommendations now will be sent to house and senate leadership, Sen. Max Wise said. Wise has served as the task force’s co-chair alongside Tipton since the group’s inaugural meeting in June.

“I think these are excellent recommendations,” Wise said. “… I’m excited going forward.”

Officials from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) also met with the task force during Monday’s meeting to provide a report on the equitable transfer of education funds between resident and nonresident districts, as required under section four of House Bill (HB) 563 and section 15 of HB 405.

With Monday’s meeting being the final School Funding Task Force meeting before the regular session, KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney expressed the department’s gratitude for the task force and said KDE looks forward to continuing this conversation on behalf of students.

“I want to express our appreciation on behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education for allowing us to be a member of the task force and also for having school district superintendents and school board members represented,” Kinney said. “They are the people on the ground assisting our students and our staff every single day. It’s such a wonderful conversation that we’ve been allowed to participate in.”

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