Thesixth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, December 4, 2006, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Frank Rasche, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair; Representative Frank Rasche, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, Gerald A. Neal, R.J. Palmer II, Gary Tapp, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood. Representatives Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Jim DeCesare, Jon Draud, C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Derrick Graham, Mary Harper, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald K. Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr., Russ Mobley, Rick G. Nelson, Darryl T. Owens, Tom Riner, Charles L. Siler, Arnold Simpson, Kathy W. Stein, and Ron Weston.
Guests: Ms. Carolyn Witt Jones, Partnership for Successful Schools; Mr. Ed Cunningham, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; Mr. Phil Schmidt and Dr. Kirsty Fleming, Kentucky Center for Mathematics; Mr. Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of Superintendents Association; Mr. John Wilkerson, Kentucky Education Association; and Mr. Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Sandy Deaton, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Representative Rasche introduced Ms. Kyna Koch, Associate
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and Dr. Bob Tarvin,
School Facilities Construction Commission (SFCC), to discuss the school facilities evaluation study and the Urgent Needs Advisory Committee. Ms. Koch said the KDE was mandated by House Bill 380 to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of: current facilities planning process; process for categorizing schools; major plant maintenance; process used to determine unmet need; and the degree of equity in distribution of state facility funds. The study involved local superintendents, finance officers, facility managers, other local school personnel, consultants, and others as deemed appropriate.
Ms. Koch said the KDE established a School Facilities Evaluation Task Force that consisted of eight superintendents, five finance officers, five facility managers, two local district personnel, two architects, one fiscal agent, three SFCC members, and one representative of the Education Cabinet. She said the task force was divided into four subcommittees. She identified a list of names for each subcommittee, which is included in the handout in the meeting folder located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Ms. Koch said the fifth area of study, the degree of equity in distribution of funds, was addressed through a contract with Lawrence O. Picus and Associates.
Ms. Koch discussed the recommendations for each subcommittee. The recommendations for categorizing schools subcommittee were: 1) standardize building condition evaluations with a numerically weighted formula that takes into account not only the condition of the building, but also the educational suitability of the facility; and 2) provide separate categories of the evaluation for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and life safety requirements.
Ms. Koch said the maintenance subcommittee recommendations were: 1) districts should initiate a state-approved maintenance program to be defined in three tiers; 2) the KDE should develop best practices; and 3) require professional development for facility officers.
Ms. Koch said the planning process subcommittee recommendations were: 1) require each district facility plan to be revised every four years, with no waivers; 2) require the KDE to develop best practices for planning; 3) require the local board of education members to attend the orientation session of the local planning committee; 4) provide continuing education for architects, engineers, construction managers and local personnel in the planning and construction process; 5) establish maximum school sizes, and 6) revise the construction process to require more involvement by KDE in setting approximate expectations for the project before local decisions have been made.
Ms. Koch said the unmet need subcommittee recommendations were: 1) revise the use of the R.S. Means data to include a multiplier for soft costs and potential consideration for site preparation, and re-evaluate on an annual basis; 2) modify the 75 percent rule for capacity calculations for renovations; 3) initiate a "facilities watch list"; and 4) permit high growth districts to use restricted funds for operations in the first biennium of a new facility.
Ms. Koch summarized by discussing the equity recommendations formed by the Lawrence O. Picus and Associates. Their comprehensive solution to the foregoing issues include: increasing capital outlay; adding a second Facilities Support Program of Kentucky (FSPK); retaining an unequalized growth nickel; merging the regular SFCC program with the urgent needs funding; and rolling other funding streams into the second FSPK nickel. She noted that the taskforce recommended that all of Lawrence O. Picus and Associates recommendations be implemented except for increasing the capital outlay. Ms. Koch will be presenting these recommendations to the Kentucky Board of Education on December 5, 2006.
Representative Graham asked Ms. Koch to identify certain acronyms in her presentation. She explained the terminology and said the FSPK stands for Facilities Support Program of Kentucky, which is part of the Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) program, and said the program is five cents that is equalized by the state, and is an existing program. She also said that school districts are required to levy the five cents if they choose to participate with the SFCC.
Representative DeCesare asked who would provide the continuing education for the different entities for the planning process. Ms. Koch said she facilitated the taskforce meetings and instructed the members not to consider resources as a factor in the recommendations. She said the KDE would need external support for this recommendation from an entity that provides professional development.
Representative DeCesare asked if the professional development would be for KDE's staff or all the people of the Commonwealth. Ms. Koch said the KDE staff would participate, but the training would be provided for all architects and engineers that would like to build school facilities in Kentucky.
Representative DeCesare asked how continuing education would benefit the architects and engineers. Ms. Koch said they are trying to help these professionals to better understand the process that local school districts must follow by statute and administrative regulation.
Representative DeCesare asked if the recommendations would be implemented in 2007. Ms. Koch said the FSPK nickel would most likely be implemented in 2007, but most recommendations will probably be addressed in the longer legislative session in 2008.
Representative Collins asked if all facilities would be evaluated upon request. Ms. Koch said the ideal situation would be to have all school facilities evaluated within a relatively short period of time, however this would cost a significant amount of money. She said there are some third party vendors that conduct these facility evaluations, but KDE does not think it is appropriate to ask the school districts to pay for this at this juncture. She said the KDE is looking at ways to use current resources in Kentucky to pay for these evaluations. Representative Collins asked if school facility evaluations were conducted now upon request. Ms. Koch said districts are required to hire architects to conduct the evaluations when the school districts revise their school facilities plan.
Representative Collins said comparisons of school facilities built in the same year show some are in great condition, and others are in need of extensive repairs. He feels maintenance is the key to keeping these facilities in good shape, and Ms. Koch agreed. She said maintenance is an area that some school districts tend to neglect when budgets are tight to avoid laying off staff.
Senator Westwood said he is pleased the KDE is studying the maintenance issues of its school facilities because it steams him to think of school buildings that are 30 years old being categorized as category five buildings. He also said school districts should build new schools based upon models that have been proven and time tested, and not built for trends.
Senator McGaha asked Ms. Koch to define what soft costs were under the unmet needs subcommittee recommendations. Ms. Koch said soft costs include architectural fees, engineering fees, and bond issuance fees for a total cost of 17 percent of the project. Senator McGaha asked if there was a multiplier used. Ms. Koch said no, the KDE sticks strictly with R.S. Means because the three-quarter means puts Kentucky in the 75th percentile of all projects completed across the country. She noted that while Kentucky is more in-line with the national average, the construction cost is now higher than the three-quarter R.S. Means.
Senator McGaha asked if KDE had the flexibility to add an increase in order to meet the inflation of construction costs, and Ms. Koch said no, that would have to be done by administrative regulation. Senator McGaha said school districts trying to build new facilities are behind from the very beginning as the cost of construction is not reflected accurately in the estimate. Ms. Koch said school districts are working from real costs when they begin a project. She said the three-quarter R.S. Means numbers are used only in the school facility plan, but when they actually begin a project, they begin with real cost. She said it causes a problem with unmet need projections from the KDE to the General Assembly, because the unmet number is understated and is really 17 percent higher.
Representative Draud said 17 percent of costs attributed to soft costs seemed high, and asked if KDE had any suggestions to lower those costs. Ms. Koch said Kentucky is not that out-of-line in comparison with other states. The task force did look at options of computing architectural fees in other ways, but did not make a recommendation in that area.
Dr. Tarvin commended the General Assembly for asking for the school facility evaluation study, as the last comprehensive review of construction for schools was conducted in 1986. He did a Power Point presentation that gave an update of the Urgent Needs Advisory Committee (UNAC). He said the creation of the UNAC served two purposes. They were: 1) Under House Bill 380 in 2006, it said "Funds may be distributed to local school districts to address anomalies in the existing school construction funding formulas as direct grants, loans, matching funds, additional offers of assistance to address districts' unmet needs, or as equalization funds in situations where school districts have levied additional taxes for school construction purposes;" and 2) "Notwithstanding KRS 157.622, the SFCC in cooperation with UNAC, shall incorporate the findings and recommendations of this evaluation in determining the 2006 offers of assistance to local school districts."
Dr. Tarvin said the UNAC derived from the Urgent Need Trust Fund. He gave the background of the Urgent Need Trust Fund and discussed the committee members that formed the UNAC.
Dr. Tarvin discussed the recommendations of the UNAC to the SFCC. There were two recommendations based on anomalies: 1) The SFCC should examine evidence, which will be provided by the UNAC concerning districts that did not meet the requirements for equalization funding as set forth in the section of "Equalized Facility Funding" of House Bill 267 from the 2005 General Assembly session but were not awarded that funding. They should be awarded this funding and three schools fall within this category: Bowling Green Independent, Todd County, and Walton-Verona Independent; and 2) While the UNAC believes it is important that the projects established in the Urgent Needs Trust Fund by the passage of the FB 2004-2006 should be completed, the committee does not believe that additional inflation increases should be allocated to these districts. The third recommendation was based on the facilities study. It is: 3) The UNAC agreed with the recommendations of the Facilities Task Force Study concerning local tax policy. The UNAC urges the SFCC to support this position.
Dr. Tarvin said actions of the UNAC include defining guidelines for anomalies that may or may not exist in the current funding structure. He also said UNAC should incorporate the findings and recommendations of the school facilities evaluation.
Dr. Tarvin discussed the recommendations of the UNAC to the SFCC based on the facility studies. They included: urging the General Assembly to provide funds to engage a third party, if necessary, to assist in the completion of this work, with the goal of obtaining a new facility plan for each district, as well as a new evaluation of each building within the next two years; permitting the rapid growth districts to use restricted funds for operational purposes during the first biennium of a new school's operation. The SFCC should endorse this recommendation for the needed statutory or regulatory changes. At the present time, there are four school districts that meet this criteria: Boone County, Oldham County, Walton-Verona, and Williamstown; and the SFCC should target special urgent needs funds in FY 2007-2008 to districts based on the methodology for the valuation of needs as described in the report. The factors used in this valuation were: 1) average daily attendance; 2) percent of facilities rated a category four or five; 3) rapid growth districts; 4) total unmet need; 5) per-pupil unmet need; 6) per-pupil assessment; 7) the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) scores index based on a five-year average; 8) growth in CATS scores over five-year period; 9) levied tax rate per $1,000 of per-capita income; and 10) levied tax rate by district.
Dr. Tarvin said of the $150 million bonding available, $75 million should be used for targeted urgent needs funding. The remaining amount from the $150 million in bonding should be allocated pursuant to the current statute. He said some members of the UNAC feel that as new data becomes available an evaluation of the current SFCC funding formula might be warranted.
Dr. Tarvin discussed the valuation of factors for extra consideration in funding. The committee determined that the ten factors above should be considered to determine special needs funding, and committee members have 100 points to assign to important factors.
Dr. Tarvin discussed the general findings of the committee. The detailed list of findings are located within the meeting folder within the Legislative Research Committee (LRC) library. He welcomed questions from the members.
Representative Owens asked if local tax rates are a determining factor if school districts receive urgent need trust funds. Dr. Tarvin said the levied tax rates for school districts is controversial. Representative Owens noted that schools categorized as four and five schools could be located in school districts that have a very low tax rate. Dr. Tarvin said all districts have levied tax rates. Some committee members felt the top 25 percent or the upper quartile should receive points for that effort, and other members had sentiments that the rate should be standardized for the fact of per capita income.
Representative Owens asked if the school districts were rewarded for not making a sufficient local effort. Dr. Tarvin said this system would not, as it only assigns points to the top 25 percent, which is the 44 school districts in the state making the most effort.
Representative Owens said his concern was to ensure that students have quality facilities in districts that are not making any effort, but he said he does believe that schools who are making the effort should be rewarded. He also noted that it appears students are penalized because the school boards need to be motivated to do more.
Dr. Tarvin said it is a serious issue. The tax recommendation addresses the issue as it does incentivise those who pay more taxes, but also provides resources more adequately. He said under the current system, the legislature has levied five cents, and this five cents has been open to recall. He said the school districts who need the dollars the most are the least likely to levy the five cents, and so the task force recommended every school district levy ten cents.
Representative Moberly said UNAC was created out of the house budget because there were many school districts approaching the General Assembly and discussing equalization funding. He said the intent was for UNAC to make the decisions about the appropriation and equalization of money to school districts, and school districts should not be receiving letters stating that the General Assembly would make final decisions about funding. He reiterated that UNAC's role was to make the decisions about equalization funding.
Representative Moberly also said UNAC made a blanket statement that the districts that were in the Urgent Need Trust Fund should not receive funds for inflation, and the intention was for it to be an individual case-by-case determination. He said some districts can afford the overage, and some truly cannot afford inflationary funding. He said UNAC made the decision that no school district would be considered at all for receiving inflationary funding, and other anomalies existed, such as Williamstown, who complained about missing the date. He asked Dr. Tarvin why UNAC seemed to avoid some of these issues.
Dr. Tarvin responded first to the Williamstown issue. He said the letter he reviewed stated that Williamstown felt they were entitled to a growth nickel because they passed a recallable nickel this year. The committee did not act on any equalization for any recallable nickels because they felt the budget language stated that the nickel was to be passed without recall or equalization, and that the General Assembly has only recalled those nickels after the fact.
Representative Moberly said the reason the language was not in the budget bill was because UNAC was empowered to make these decisions and they did not fulfill all the responsibilities that were afforded to them. He said the school districts in question will be back to communicate their displeasure both in the 2007 and 2008 General Assembly sessions. He said UNAC was supposed to base their decision is some fair manner instead of the General Assembly making political decisions, and this was the reason that UNAC received the $5 million dollars.
Representative Moberly asked questions about the criteria used for targeting special urgent needs funds. He said it appeared that rapid growth was in the recommendations twice, and Dr. Tarvin agreed that it was. Representative Moberly questioned the CATS scores index based on a five-year average, and growth in CATS scores over a five year period, and if wealthier school districts were benefiting from points from being higher up in the index than a school that met or exceeded their goals. He said he has serious concerns about anti-equity provisions within the recommendations.
Representative Miller asked if studies had been completed and if task force members had looked at issues such as average daily attendance and buying new school buses. He believes the state is trying to save money on issues such as calculating average daily attendance and how many bus and car riders there are, but it places the local schools in difficult situations.
Representative Rasche introduced Mr. Edward Cunningham, Executive Director, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), to discuss student financial aid programs and findings of a recent Kentucky Education of Excellence Scholarship (KEES) study. Mr. Cunningham said KHEAA and the Student Loan People (SLP) administer and provide federal student loans, state financial aid, and information about college opportunities. He said KHEAA and SLP do not receive general fund appropriations for administration. General fund appropriations received by KHEAA go directly to students.
Mr. Cunningham said KHEAA and SLP are self-supporting entities that dedicate their revenue to benefits for students. The benefits include: cost-free administration of state student aid programs ($4.9 million in fiscal year 2006); additional funds for state student aid awards ($3.8 million in fiscal year 2006); cost-free administration of federal student loans; multiple loan forgiveness programs; and multifaceted outreach services.
Mr. Cunningham said the SLP offers several unique programs to help borrowers save on their student loans, including loan and principal forgiveness for teachers, nurses, and public service attorneys. He said in fiscal year 2006, borrower benefits directly to students totaled $40.4 million.
Mr. Cunningham said Kentucky's three major student financial programs are the: College Access Program (CAP) Grant, the Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG), and the KEES. Per KRS 154A.130, nearly 100 percent of net lottery proceeds are earmarked for these programs. He said of the net lottery proceeds (minus $3 million for literacy initiatives), KEES receives 45 percent, CAP and KTG receive 55 percent.
Mr. Cunningham gave a biennial budget overview for the CAP Grant, KTG, and KEES programs. He discussed the disbursements in fiscal year 2006 compared to the number of recipients. He also discussed budgeted amounts for fiscal year 2007 and 2008. A complete list of the figures are located in the meeting folder in the LRC library. He noted that there was $49.4 million in unfunded CAP awards as of November 28, 2006, which means 26,000 students who applied for a CAP grant were denied because funds were depleted. He said there was also $4.4 million of total unfunded awards for the KTG program for the same date.
Mr. Cunningham noted that during fiscal year 2006, over 127,000 Kentucky high school students earned $52.4 million in total KEES awards. Since the programs inception in fiscal year 1999, KHEAA has disbursed over $365.7 million in KEES awards to college students. He said the immense popularity of the program also brings funding concerns. He said according to the Office of the State Budget Director, Kentucky will begin fiscal year 2007 with a $10.1 million KEES reserve. The KEES reserve is additional monies that KEES receives from unclaimed lottery prizes. After projected KEES expenditures, the ending balance carrying over into fiscal year 2008 will be $3,295,800. After projected KEES expenditures the projected ending balance for KEES in 2008 is $0.
Mr. Cunningham concluded by discussing the House Resolution (HR) 323 study. HR 323, passed by the 2006 General Assembly, directed KHEAA to "study the impact of a policy change to permit students to use KEES awards at out-of-state schools with reciprocal in-state tuition agreements with postsecondary institutions in Kentucky." He said the study asked KHEAA to report on the number of students who would be affected, the estimated annual cost, and the benefits accruing to the Commonwealth.
Mr. Cunningham said the current KEES policy is limited to participation in the Academic Common Market (ACM). The ACM is a consortium of 16 states in the Southern Regional Education Board in which public institutions agree to offer certain programs of study not available to other students in their home state at in-state tuition rates. In fiscal year 2006, 22 Kentucky students received KEES disbursements totaling $382,000 to attend out-of-state institutions through ACM participation.
Mr. Cunningham discussed the tuition reciprocity agreements (TRAs). The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) enters into TRAs with corresponding authorities in other states to waive or reduce non-resident tuition for Kentucky resident students at certain out-of-state institutions. He said TRAs generally apply to each state's residents living in counties adjacent to the state's boundary.
Mr. Cunningham said Kentucky has TRAs with five states currently. They are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. TRAs apply to Kentucky residents living in 40 of Kentucky's 120 counties. He said changing the KEES statute to permit use by students who attend an out-of-state institution under a TRA would affect approximately 2,000 students per year at an annual cost of approximately $3 million. The projected cost of KEES disbursements for TRA students is $2,860,572 in fiscal year 2008, $3,021,059 in fiscal year 2009, and $3,139,821 in fiscal year 2010.
Mr. Cunningham said careful consideration should be given before making this type of change to the KEES program. Factors to consider include: the impact on KEES program funding as current projections indicate a shortfall of net lottery proceeds in fiscal year 2008; the impact on KEES program objectives as this change would allow students to use KEES awards out-of-state for programs of study that are offered in Kentucky; and the impact on current enrollments at Kentucky postsecondary institutions as this change could cause enrollments to decline because of a reduced cost differential with out-of-state institutions. He also noted that differential KEES treatment would be provided to students who live in 40 of Kentucky's 120 counties, and there is no reciprocity offered by other states' merit-based scholarship programs for their students attending Kentucky institutions.
Representative Cherry said KEES was implemented ten years ago and the rewards are the same in 2006 as they were in 1996, but asked Mr. Cunningham to calculate the increase of the cost of a college education in Kentucky over the last ten years. Mr. Cunningham said he does not have an estimate directly, but he does know that the cost of attendance has outstripped inflation. Representative Cherry said he would estimate that costs have increased by 75 to 100 percent in the last ten years so he estimates that KEES are roughly 50 percent of the value that they were when they went into effect.
Representative Cherry said Mr. Cunningham predicted that the KEES lottery proceeds will fail to keep up with the needs of KEES in fiscal year 2008, and the situation will probably be exacerbated in forthcoming years. He asked Mr. Cunningham for suggestions on how to fund KEES. Mr. Cunningham said KHEAA would be delighted to work with the committee members to identify additional funding.
Representative Cherry said the CAP program has been in place much longer than the KEES program, but asked if the CAP program was trying to keep up with the inflationary spiral in higher education. Mr. Cunningham said KHEAA is trying, but as evidenced nationwide with all grant programs, they just cannot keep up with the increasing costs of education.
Representative Draud said information was received from the lottery corporation this past week that over $200 million went into various scholarships for Kentucky students from the proceeds of the lottery. He said historically, the General Assembly has received criticism from the general public that lottery funds do not help education programs. He said the fact of the matter is that lottery funds help education a great deal and this should be communicated to the general public.
Representative Owens asked if CAP and KTG were funded by appropriations only, and Mr. Cunningham said no, those programs received lottery funds as well. Representative Owens asked if those programs received any additional funds from other sources, and Mr. Cunningham said no. Representative Owens said KHEAA should be working to get additional funds for the CAP grant and KTG program, as well as KEES.
Senator Blevins said some students in his region have accumulated KEES money, but cannot access it for taking the advanced placement courses, while still enrolled in high school. He asked if this problem can be addressed. A KHEAA representative said the dual enrollment situation is addressed with the Mary Jo Young Scholarship for students who are still enrolled in high school, but are taking college courses as well. This scholarship also aims to help students who are economically disadvantaged, and has been very successful.
Representative DeCesare asked if students at Western Kentucky University who attend the new Math and Science Academy will be eligible for KEES money. Mr. Cunningham said no, an institution has to receive accreditation for students to be eligible to receive money to attend. Representative DeCesare said the Math and Science Academy will not be a certified high school, and this is a problem that the General Assembly will have to address because the accreditation of the professors at the university are different than that of public school teachers.
Representative Meeks said students in the state of Ohio historically have come to Kentucky to attend college because they could save money on their college education. He asked if Kentucky is still a good value for a college education, and if it was still more affordable for students in Ohio to pay out-of-state rates in Kentucky instead of in-state rates in Ohio. Mr. Cunningham said he does know for sure, as he is not familiar with the costs in Ohio. He noted however, this was not an unusual situation to find in other states, and he believes a Kentucky education holds tremendous value in comparison to other states.
Representative Meeks asked if the good value of an education in Kentucky would be undercut by allowing Kentucky students to use KEES money to go out-of-state. Mr. Cunningham said anytime money is moving out the state, it is giving a financial incentive for people to leave, and he is not sure this is in Kentucky's best interest. Representative Meeks asked if there was any research or data available on the ability to bring those students back to Kentucky to live and work after they leave Kentucky to be educated out-of-state. Mr. Cunningham said no research had been conducted in this area of which he was aware.
Representative Rasche introduced Mr. Kevin Noland, Interim Commissioner, Department of Education, Ms. Koch, and Mr. Steve Clements, University of Kentucky, to give a report on the study of school calendars and the use of time. Mr. Noland said the KDE was mandated by HB 380 to conduct an evaluation of school calendars. The study was to review the possible positive and negative effect of the school calendar on students and the impact of the school calendar on school district operations and finances.
Mr. Noland said the primary purpose of the evaluation was to determine the impact of alternative calendars on school districts in Kentucky. Alternative school calendars can include: 1) school days of more than six instructional hours; 2) school days of less than six instructional hours; 3) the use of shortened instructional weeks; and 4) year-round calendars.
Mr. Noland pointed out that a preliminary report on school calendars was in the folder with additional recommendations coming on January 15, 2006. He the task force worked with the state budget director's office, the Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB), the University of Kentucky's Martin School for Public Administration, and contracted for the services of Dr. Steve Clements, who conducted a review of literature on research in the area of school calendars. He said the research is all over the board, but schools that can make effective use of their instructional time benefit from additional instructional time for their students, and schools who do not make effective use of their time, the extra days of instruction tend to have no benefit.
Mr. Noland said he believes Kentucky should advocate for more instructional time for its students, but leave flexibility at the local school district level on how to best to create the calendar when they add instructional time. He said literature shows that the KDE should be focused on helping those schools that are not currently effectively using their time, and to continue to offer assistance through scholastic audits, highly skilled educators, voluntary assistance teams, and other tools, to ensure that the teachers and the principals are making an effective use of time for the students in those schools.
Representative Rasche asked if the two issues at hand were quality of time use, and the amount of time. Mr. Noland said yes, the first step is to ensure that the time already designated to schools, which is the equivalent of 175 six hour instructional days, is being utilized effectively. If so, then adding additional time is a wise thing to do for the students.
Representative Miller asked if year-round calendars were a good idea, and asked if the boards of education were in the process of setting up the calendars right now, and if so, are they doing a good job creating the calendars. He asked if the year-round calendars were effective in Jefferson County.
Mr. Noland said Jefferson County has some options within the district for schools to have different school calendars, and currently by statute the legislature has provided that it is a local school board decision. He said research on year-round school calendars is mixed. His recommendation is to allow school calendars to continue to be a local school board decision.
Representative Moberly said the budget specified that the additional instructional days the schools are required to implement had to be full days. He asked if Mr. Noland is suggesting that schools can add just 15 minutes to a school day here or there, and not be required to add whole days.
Mr. Noland said the General Assembly did a good thing in adding the two additional instructional days to the calendar and funding them. He said some schools need assistance in making the additional time useful. He said research is mixed on whether schools should add whole days or use flexibility by adding minutes on to the end of school days. He thinks flexibility is important, but it should be a local decision, and the results of students should be examined. Ms. Koch reiterated the fact that is should be based on student results. Representative Moberly feels very proud that the General Assembly added two whole days, and does not see how adding a few minutes to the end of each school day is very useful.
Representative DeCesare asked if any parents were included on the task force that looked at school calendars. Ms. Koch said this was not a taskforce as a task force was not required, and it was only a data review. Representative Rasche said the report in members' folders was a report of the Task Force on School Calendars and the Tourism Industry that was completed last year, and was a separate task force.
Representative DeCesare asked if there was any information about the time used in schools after the CATS testing takes place. He said he is under the impression that after CATS testing is completed, there is about three weeks of down time in the schools.
Mr. Noland said the current study in the budget bill language was not looking at how schools used the time. He noted there is anecdotal evidence that some schools are not making effective use of their time after CATS testing and other schools do fine. He said this problem needs to be addressed, but the No Child Left Behind Act requires that test scores have to be back before the start of the next year, so this makes CATS testing in May not probable because results cannot be scored and turned in before the start of the next school year. Representative DeCesare would like the issue of utilization of time after CATS testing looked at for all schools.
Representative Draud asked if it was safe to conclude that 100 instructional days is enough as long as students are showing results. Mr. Noland said he did not think 100 days would be sufficient, but research is not real helpful in making these policy decisions in this area. He said most educators would agree that there are other social skills learned in school such as citizenship, critical thinking skills, teamwork, and work ethic that students need to learn outside of getting good results on certain test assessments.
Representative Embry said Kentucky has three instructional days less than the national average, and worldwide the United States ranks 38th in the number of school days with other countries having between 190 and 220 instructional days. He asked if there was any information on student performance in math and science in these other countries that have many more instructional days.
Mr. Clements said the variation is considerable within the United States. He said 30 of the states have 180 days school days required, but many of those states actually provide less instruction than Kentucky because the instructional hours can be arrayed in a variety of ways over the days. Mr. Clements concluded that Kentucky has fewer school days than many other states, but provides more hours of instruction placing it in the middle of the spectrum nationally. He said internationally it is much of the same. There are schools in the world that require 220 or 230 instructional days, but some of those have very short days, and the utilization of time varies considerably. Representative Embry said his concern was that other countries are producing more engineers than the United States, and Kentucky needs to be competitive in order to keep up with technology and high paying jobs.
Representative Rasche introduced Dr. Bill Bush, Chair, Mathematics Achievement Committee, Dr. Kirsty Fleming, Project Director, Kentucky Center for Mathematics, Northern Kentucky University (NKU), and Ms. Ava Taylor, Branch Manager for Math and Science, Ms. Ann Bartosh, Math Consultant, KDE. Dr. Bush gave a progress report on the Committee for Mathematics Achievement.
Dr. Bush said the Mathematics Achievement Committee was formed by House Bill 93 in March of 2005. He said 26 members represent K-12 schools, adult education, postsecondary institutions, KDE, CPE, the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), and the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities. The first meeting was held in May 2005, and they have met monthly since.
Dr. Bush discussed the roles of the committee. They are to: develop a statewide strategic plan for improving mathematics achievement in Kentucky; advise the KDE, CPE, and EPSB with regard to their roles in the strategic plan; monitor and advise the work of the Kentucky Center for Mathematics; and report progress toward the strategic plan to the legislature and other state agencies.
Dr. Bush discussed the strategic plan for improving mathematics achievement, and the strategic plan goals. He identified some specific accomplishments in 2005 and 2006. He said priority topics for 2007 include: quality programs for principals and other administrators to assist in working with mathematics teachers; recruitment and retention of mathematics teachers; mathematics transitions from high school to postsecondary; analysis of mathematics teacher preparation; and analysis of mathematics curricula and programs.
Dr. Bush concluded by explaining the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) "Curriculum Focal Points." He said the focal points are clusters that represent the most important mathematical topics for each grade level Pre-K through 8. He said it is the mathematical ideas, concepts, skills, and procedures that form the foundation for understanding and learning language. A detailed explanation is included in the meeting folder located in the LRC library.
Representative Miller asked about the different levels and transitions from middle school to high school. He said students can be placed into classes where they should not be, and get so far behind, they cannot catch up with their peers. He asked if any studies had been completed on testing students before transitioning from middle to high school.
Dr. Bush said current intervention programs being reviewed do exactly what Representative Miller is talking about. He said intervention programs have to have strong formulative and summative assessments about the student. Representative Miller said the high schools seem to take the recommendations from the middle school as to where to place students upon arrival, and this does not always seem to work. He said students should be tested and results forwarded to high school staff before students are scheduled into their classes in high school.
Representative Owens discussed the shortage of math teachers and the placement of teachers. He asked if any efforts were being made to identify troubled schools, or students struggling in math. He said students are judged based on test results, but the differences between the quality of teachers within these schools can affect school performance.
Dr. Bush said some of the intervention programs have a wonderful teacher training piece incorporated. He said the programs also build up the math background of the teacher as well, particularly at the middle school level.
Dr. Fleming said a number of strategies can be employed. She said the coaching program that she will discuss should be able to help with Representative Owens's concerns.
Representative Graham discussed Jefferson County school district and their initiative in trying to realign the math programs. He said Dr. Stephen Daeschner, Superintendent, Jefferson County, said that kindergarten through third grade would be the primary focus for this math initiative. He asked if the entire state should take this approach.
Dr. Bush said an analysis was completed at the University of Louisville to compare Jefferson County's new curriculum and standards with core content in mathematics in K-8. He said Jefferson County is doing an additional 32 percent of math topics than what is within Kentucky's core content, and it resembles the Asian model where a strand of a very specific set of topics is studied in depth before moving on to the next topic. This provides a very different picture from the United States, which just covers topics briefly through eight grades. Dr. Bush said Jefferson County's standards are called "world-class standards" and they have hired a company to help them to write their own curriculum. Everyone will be watching and collecting data on student performance across all Jefferson County schools.
Representative Graham said he wants to see students succeed in mathematics. He said statistics show that Kentucky students are not performing up to speed in this area, particularly as students seem to be losing ground between elementary and middle school. He said teachers should be adequately compensated for undertaking the additional professional development and training for the upcoming math initiatives, and for the responsibility of ensuring that all students reach proficiency by 2014.
Representative Moberly commended Dr. Bush and the entire Committee for Mathematics Achievement for carrying out the intentions of House Bill 93. He said they are doing an outstanding job and he is very pleased with the results. Dr. Bush said the representatives on the committee are very good.
Dr. Fleming said the scope of the Committee for Mathematics Achievement is huge, and the Kentucky Center for Mathematics is an integral part of implementing many parts of the strategic plan that is designed to accomplish the goals. She said her presentation is focused on the most three significant programs to date, which are the: 1) the coaching program; 2) the diagnostic intervention program; and 3) the research and evaluation work that is being performed.
Dr. Fleming said the purpose of the coaching program is to provide every school, at all levels, access to a mathematics coach. The mathematics coaches should be strong in pedagogical content knowledge so they know how to teach; strong in content knowledge so they know mathematics; and also have good interpersonal skills. These coaches will act as experts within their schools and work on a peer-to-peer basis to help the teachers improve their teaching. She explained other duties that the math coaches may perform within schools.
Dr. Fleming said the idea behind the diagnostic intervention program is that mathematics is a very vertical discipline. She said if a child has deficiencies or gaps in their knowledge or skills, or misunderstandings, the child is not likely to be successful as he or she progresses through the curriculum. She said the math coaches and the diagnostic intervention, or mathematics intervention teachers, receive extensive, formal training throughout the year. She also said regional coordinators are hired to provide support and are based at each of the public institutions, and are currently funded part-time. She is hopeful that they can become full-time personnel in the future.
Dr. Fleming said the coaching program is facing some challenges. She said there were spaces this summer for 240 coaches, but the program only ended up with 67. She said partly this was due to a timing issue, but other issues have been identified by school and teachers as well. They are: geographic distribution, as some areas in the state are underrepresented; the funding for replacement costs while the coaches are in training in some schools; and finding a qualified math teacher to replace the math coach in that half-time slot, if funding is only available to pay for the coach half the time.
Dr. Fleming said Kentucky is trying to build capacity within the state, in order to eliminate reliance on external trainers. She feels it is important to have expertise within the state, so the director of the math coaches and the director of the diagnostic intervention program are currently attending the training needed to become certified as trainers for the programs that they offer.
Dr. Fleming said the research and evaluation component of the center tries to decide if these programs are effective. This work is performed collaboratively with the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center, and the Burk-Hart Consulting Center that is housed at NKU.
Dr. Fleming discussed a project that the KDE is coordinating in eight of Kentucky's middle schools. These schools are implementing three different programs, which will be evaluated for their efficacy. She also discussed research grants for faculty and staff. They are currently looking for what other federal funding to support further research and evaluation of the programs.
Representative Miller asked if the school district pays for the math coaches, and if the teachers receive in-service credit for these coaching hours. Dr. Fleming said the teacher professional growth fund provides the money that is associated directly with the training in the coaching program. She said the coaches work in the schools half-time, but the schools do not receive half of their salary to offset that cost. She said the funding provided for the coaching program is limited to the actual professional development time only.
Representative Miller asked how many districts utilized coaches, and how many coaches do they have. Dr. Fleming deferred the question to Mr. Phil Schmidt, NKU, and he said 28 districts utilized the math coaches, and the numbers vary from as little as having one coach to having as many as 23 coaches as in Jefferson County.
Senator Westwood commented that the Kentucky Center for Mathematics Program has been very effective in the Northern Kentucky area, and he is sure these ideas will be effective across the state. He asked about the shortage of math teachers and what to do to address this problem. He mentioned recruiting people out of the private industry who may be on the verge of retirement.
Dr. Fleming said many of the alternative certification programs are targeting audiences that include people who have chosen other careers, but would like to return to the teaching workforce. She said the Center for Mathematics would like to get involved in the teacher preparation and retention area, but currently is not too involved. An engineer coming from the private sector would have to receive education certification from an approved teacher education program, independent from the Center for Mathematics.
Representative Owens asked how many diagnostic intervention teachers had been trained to this point. Dr. Fleming said 45 intervention teachers had completed training. She explained that the number of intervention teachers is a function of the size of the mathematics achievement fund, which provides grants of $70,000 each to fund mathematics intervention teachers, and there was $2.8 million available, which in theory should have meant that 40 were trained, but when the proposals were evaluated there was a tie for last place, and so the KDE found the money to fund an additional five.
Representative Rasche introduced Ms. Monica Froedge and Dr. Barret Lessenberry, residents from Glasgow, Kentucky, who discussed the need for a late August start date for Kentucky's public schools. He discussed the issues in the school calendar debate. A complete listing of those issues is in the meeting folder located within the LRC library.
Dr. Lessenberry said the top ten testing states in the nation have two things in common: they all start school about Labor Day; and they also all have their exams after the holiday break. He included a handout that showed many different state school start date laws, and noted which states had legislated for a late August start date. They include: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Iowa, West Virginia, and Minnesota. He also included a report in the members' folders about why the experts say it is better for students to take exams after the winter break.
Dr. Lessenberry said teachers believe there is so much focus on the CATS testing that it is very difficult to maintain the interest of the students after that testing date is completed. He said the return on the educational dollar is decreased if that is the case, and the testing should be conducted later in the school year.
Dr. Lessenberry said the majority of people interested in this issue are families. He said the early August start date interferes with family reunions at Labor Day, travel, and the Kentucky State Fair. Finding childcare becomes a nightmare for working parents when there are multiple breaks in the calendar.
Dr. Lessenberry said there is no real evidence that shows that the year-round calendar causes improved academic achievement. It also can cause problems with teachers striving for their continued education.
Dr. Lessenberry said there is a $50 million dollar cost savings by keeping the schools closed during August. He said this cost savings could apply to hiring math coaches, tutors, and extra teachers. He said one district in Michigan saved $50,000 by adding a few minutes to their day to reduce the days in the calendar and saved on utility bills.
Dr. Lessenberry said the school calendar affects tourism dollars for local communities. He said the task force made reference to a 1986 Kentucky Department of Travel Department study that estimated that $36 million was lost to tourism due to an uneven pattern of school opening and closing dates in Kentucky. He said local decisions can still be made concerning daily start and finish times, content, professional development days, or breaks. He said Texas calculated a $35 million dollar savings by cutting 12 school days from the calendar, keeping the hours taught the same by adding 15 minutes to the end of the school day. The costs saved were attributed to transportation, food, and utilities.
Dr. Lessenberry said thousands of Kentuckians want a later August start date for students because it benefits teachers, students, and families. It is financially wise. He said the General Assembly could set some parameters, including starting later and finishing later. The CATS testing could occur later in the school year, giving all schools equal ground and making this measure fair to all schools.
Representative Cherry said he has a bill that he is working on that states that Kentucky schools should not start before the fourth week in August. He asked Dr. Lessenberry why he could not convince his local board of education to agree, and said he liked his response that is was difficult to get all the surrounding local boards of education to go along as well. He asked why Dr. Lessenberry did not ask the numerous school advocacy groups for their support. He said failing to get the school association groups support makes it hard to get support from legislative members for the bill.
Dr. Lessenbury said he wonders how many people in the United States did not have to consider legislatively mandating this because they already did it this way. He also said he did not care how political groups felt about the issue one way or the other because he feels that the General Assembly is well-intending to try and spend dollars wisely, and by making this decision, there will be dollars to put back into the education system for things like math coaches and tutors. He also said there are masses of people across the state who want this, and many other states have legislated the change as well.
Representative Graham told Dr. Lessenberry that he agreed with many of the points he raised, but he said the whole point of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was to give more local control. He feels the matter is better suited in the hands of the local boards of education. He also said most boards of education seek input from teachers and parents before adopting the school calendar. He is from a district that has a year-round calendar and feels there would be a riot if made to go back to the regular calendar. He also noted that math scores increased 20 percent after his school switched to the year-round calendar. Representative Cherry reiterated that his bill exempts school districts that utilize the year-round calendar.
Representative DeCesare thanked Ms. Froedge and Dr. Lessenberry for coming and said they did a tremendous job explaining the issue. He said he had a bill he was working on as well that proposed to start school on the fourth Monday of August and he hoped Chairman Rasche would give it a chance to be heard during the upcoming session.
Representative Siler said in his southeastern school district there are many more snow days as the mountains are located there and the school buses cannot risk getting on the road. He also said the lakes are close by, and his area suffers financially in tourism because of the school starting date. He agrees with the intent of KERA and believes the school calendar is a decision that should be made locally.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.