The meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Friday, February 8, 2008, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly Jr., Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Janet Stevens, Ken Warlick, and Lisa Moore.
Representative Moberly asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the January 14, 2008 meeting. Senator Winters made the motion to approve the minutes, and the motion was seconded by Representative Farmer. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Representative Moberly introduced Mr. Kevin Noland, General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), to explain administrative regulation 703 KAR 5:170. He introduced Ms. Barbara Kennedy, Division Director, Division of Scholastic Assistance, KDE, who helped answer questions from the members.
Mr. Noland said the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) Program Review and Investigations Committee reviewed the highly skilled educator program and made the recommendation to add into the regulation the standard used for compensation for highly skilled educators. Prior to 1998, it was in statute that the highly skilled educators receive 150 percent of their per diem in their home school district as an incentive to come work in the highly skilled educator program. House Bill 53 in the 1998 Regular Session of the General Assembly, amended the salary for participation in the highly skilled educator program to 135 percent of the local educator's total district salary during their service. Mr. Noland said this regulation is simply putting that change into writing based upon the recommendation of the LRC Program Review and Investigations Subcommittee.
Representative Rasche made the motion to accept the technical amendments to the administrative regulation 703 KAR 5:170, and Senator Winters seconded the motion. The technical amendments were adopted by voice vote.
Senator Westwood asked if the highly skilled educators were compensated any other way currently besides the 135 percent, such as travel expenses or overnight accommodations. Mr. Noland said they are reimbursed for their travel expenses away from their worksite. He also noted that the 135 percent is not included in the highly skilled educator's retirement. Senator Westwood clarified that the travel expenses paid to highly skilled educators is only for mileage, and Ms. Kennedy agreed.
Representative Moberly asked for a motion to accept the regulation as amended. Representative Rasche made the motion, seconded by Senator Winters. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Representative Moberly asked Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA), to come to the table to answer any questions from members about OEA's 2007 Annual Report, the 2007 School Finance Report, and the Extended School Services (ESS) Study, which were presented at a previous meeting. Representative Moberly noted that there is a response to the ESS study from the KDE in the meeting folders which seems to be in agreement with the OEA study.
Senator Westwood made the motion to accept the OEA reports, and Representative Rasche seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Representative Moberly introduced Dr. Larry Stinson, Associate Commissioner, District Support Services, KDE, and Ms. Michelle Sutton, Director, Division of Data Management, KDE, to discuss the status of the MUNIS implementation in local school districts. Dr. Stinson said the studies being referenced are the OEA study "Indicators of Efficiency and Effectiveness in Elementary and Secondary Education Spending" (December 2006) and "A Review of the Flexible Focus Fund Program" (June 2006). He said the reports also outlined areas in need of improvement. He noted the importance of Kentucky collecting the same types of data that are collected from other states in order to be able to complete some comparative studies to show how Kentucky compares with the rest of the country.
Dr. Stinson said the KDE agrees with the areas of concern in the OEA study, but needs to figure out how to address the issues. Some areas of concern include: coding and data consistency; improvements to the data integrity efforts, including stricter enforcement of accounting protocols and monitoring of district compliance; and KDE providing more regular training at the local level. He said KDE has put in a lot of work to address the concerns, but they have not implemented the changes necessary to correct the problems.
Dr. Stinson emphasized that KDE needs to have clearer definitions for the various account codes. The KDE is currently working on this and it is close to being completed. He said lack of staff time at the state and local levels is the biggest hindrance in getting the changes implemented. He said staff has been consumed with the task of reengineering the Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) calculation software, and the corrected version should be ready by June of 2008. He also said staff is working on the implementation of the new student information system.
Dr. Stinson said another important point to be considered is that KDE does not have the capacity to store all the data that will be generated with the changes that are being contemplated. He said this is the reason why some of the information is rolled into summary types of code areas than originally preferred with the implementation of MUNIS.
Representative Moberly asked how KDE is addressing the complaints associated with Infinite Campus, the contractor for the student information system. Dr. Stinson said the complaints are being shared with the provider of the software and the corrections are being made as necessary. He said pilot districts are currently being used to determine where the challenges lie and how the system needs to be adjusted so that it will work in the manner that Kentucky wants to record attendance and student registration.
Representative Moberly said he hopes Dr. Stinson is not being an apologist for people who cannot complete contract requirements. He does not want to hear excuses being made, but would rather Dr. Stinson inform the contractors that they need to perform the job that they were hired to do.
Representative Farmer asked if the MUNIS program was a bi-directional software program that KDE can communicate with the school districts, and vice-versa. Ms. Sutton said the KDE has to rely on the districts to relay the information first and after it is received, KDE staff can manipulate and review the data.
Representative Farmer said the system needs bi-directional capability and then storage space would become a non-issue because it leaves all the information in the local school district's system, but allows the KDE to read and access the data. He said the system Kentucky is using now is grossly inefficient as it has two sets of records open at all times, and with the digital technology available today, this is a simple task to correct.
Senator Westwood said state government is struggling with its budget and looking for efficiency in all areas, and he expects efficiency in all areas of education. He asked if the money being put into education is producing a better learning environment for Kentucky students. He said there is no way to gauge at this time if the dollars being invested into education are bringing improvements and the MUNIS system needs to be fixed to measure this. He would like the changes to MUNIS to be ready in the summer of 2008 so that schools can include in their upcoming budget discussions.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 10:40 a.m.