Kentucky Education Action Team 2016 Legislative Priorities

Kids Can't WaitKEAT supports increased funding for all P-12 public school students as an urgent priority for the Commonwealth.

While KEAT supports more funding for all school programs, we specifically support increases to address three critical needs in the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly.

Adopt a funding plan for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System.

A sound pension system helps recruit and retain quality teachers. KEAT urges the governor and legislature to enact a plan that will assure adequate funding for KTRS to eliminate its current accumulated unfunded liability within the next thirty years. The single largest strain on Kentucky’s budget is this obligation to current teachers and retirees. Kentucky teachers do not participate in Social Security so their KTRS benefits are their only economic safety net.

Provide more children with high quality early education.

High quality early childhood education is critical to a child’s success in school and in life. Such programs reduce achievement gaps and increase graduation rates, leveling the playing field for all our children. They help assure that Kentucky will have an educated workforce. Increasing the eligibility for public funding for preschool services to families whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level will expand these services to 15,000 more four-year olds.

Assure safe transportation to and from school for our students.

As student transportation costs have continued to increase, funding has not. Aging buses and additional demands for bus safety increase needs. School districts have diverted general state and local school funding to safely transport students. The state currently reimburses less than 60% of the cost of student transportation, in a program designed to reimburse the full cost. If the state provides more funding, diverted state and local funds can be redirected to other pressing student needs.


Rationale:

Kentucky Teachers Retirement System

An adequately funded teacher pension system benefits students, local communities, and the Commonwealth.  The promise of a good pension helps us recruit and retain quality teachers. Each community benefits from the contributions of retired teachers, as they spend their pensions and their volunteer energies locally. With an accumulated unfunded liability of approximately $14 billion and a funded status of 55.3%, resources required to meet the Commonwealth’s obligations to current and retired teachers place a significant strain on the state budget. The lack of a plan to address KTRS’ funded status makes meeting other budget priorities much more challenging. It also decreases the state’s credit rating.

Early Childhood Education

High quality preschool for our at-risk children is characterized by developmentally appropriate curriculum and high standards for teaching, health and safety. Such early education provides a solution for our persistent gap issues. Research clearly shows that our best return on investment is during the early years, birth through age five.  The cost of later remediation and incarceration far exceeds intervening early. Collaboration among schools and child care providers can accommodate expanding enrollment and provide children and parents with a full-day, year-round program. As a result, more children will be ready for kindergarten and success throughout school and life.

Safe Transportation

As fuel, driver pay, bus purchases, insurance, repairs and other costs have increased, the state’s reimbursement for student transportation has stayed flat, reducing the funding level well below 100%. Pupil transportation, as a component of the SEEK formula, was designed be fully funded by the state. As state transportation funding as a proportion of the total cost has declined, school districts have been forced to divert other state and local funds to assure that students are safely transported to and from school.

FY Percent Funded   FY Percent Funded
2002 100% 2009 66%
2003 100% 2010 70%
2004 100% 2011 65%
2005 96% 2012 63%
2006 89% 2013 60%
2007 81% 2014 59%
2008 79% 2015 59%

What You Can Do:

  1. Locate and contact your legislators.
  2. Print and sign This Letter to Legislators or write your own and deliver it to the 15th District PTA Office by 2:00 pm Jan. 13. We will hand deliver the letters to Frankfort on Jan. 14 during Children’s Advocacy Day.
  3. Explain the importance of funding education to friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and have them call their legislators, as well.
  4. Share this post via email and on social media (links are below).

Main Message: Our Kids Can’t Wait

  • Our students get just one chance at a high quality education
  • Kentucky has raised the expectations for student performance
  • Funding to support student achievement continues to decline

The Bottom Line:

  • The future of our children and of our state requires more P12 funding

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