Thesecond meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, July 7, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Charlie Borders, Alice Forgy Kerr, R.J. Palmer II, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Larry Belcher, Mike Cherry, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, Ted Edmonds, C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, Jeff Greer, Jimmy Higdon, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr., Marie Rader, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, Alecia Webb-Edgington, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Bonnie Brinly, Legislative Liaison, Kevin Noland, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel, Department of Education.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Janet Stevens, Ken Warlick, and Lisa Moore.
Senator Winters recognized Bonnie Brinly and Kevin Noland, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), for their upcoming retirements and they received a round of applause from members and the audience.
Representative DeCesare made the motion to approve the minutes from the June 9, 2008, meeting and Representative Belcher seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Senator Winters asked Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education, to give the committee a report of the subcommittee meeting. Representative Edmonds said the subcommittee met and heard discussion on how to better prepare high school students for successful postsecondary education. He said Dr. Wayne Andrews, President, Morehead State University (MoSU), did an excellent job of discussing the way MoSU works with the local schools to help prepare students for college. Highlights of the MoSU program include professional development for math and science teachers by the math and science faculty; GEAR UP; the Appalachian Regional P-16 Council that includes 60 members representing the schools and the communities; the Space Science Program; a Summer Success Program through which students can take development courses before entering college as freshmen; and the Lucille Caudill Little Theatre group that performed for 32,000 elementary and secondary students last year. Dr. Andrews also reported that Morehead, Eastern Kentucky University, and the independent colleges are developing a joint strategic plan to help students in the region be successful.
Representative Edmonds said Mr. Bert Hensley, Superintendent, Estill County Schools, reported that transition points between elementary, middle, high school, and college still need attention. He feels students and parents need assistance in planning for college as early as middle school and also need information on calculating the costs of attending college.
Representative Edmonds said Mr. Tim Bobrowski, Principal, Sebastian Middle School, Breathitt County, discussed the ways his faculty works to assure their students are on the right track for success. He reported that they participate in the GEAR UP program, take the students for college and high school visits, have focused professional development, and have high expectations for their students.
Senator Winters asked Representative Carl Rollins, Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, to give the committee a report on the subcommittee meeting. Representative Rollins said the subcommittee members heard information regarding: the major components affecting college affordability including tuition, room and board, books, merit versus need based grants, loans, and contributions from parents and students; the impact of college affordability on particular types of students including low income, transfer, and adult learners; affordability data trends in Kentucky and national comparisons; and the linkage between tuition, student financial aid, state appropriations, and student success.
Senator Winters introduced Dr. Joanne Lange, Executive Vice President, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), to discuss the AdvanceKentucky™ program. Dr. Lange said the KSTC is an independent, non-profit company founded in 1987 and is the headquarters for AdvanceKentucky™.
Dr. Lange said mission and functions of KSTC include strengthening the capacity of people, companies and organizations to develop and apply science and technology and compete responsibly in the global marketplace. She said KSTC invests in education and talent development, research and development, technological commercialization, and technology start-up companies. She said they are under contract through the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Cabinet for Economic Development to invest in technology companies.
Dr. Lange said AdvanceKentucky™ is a dynamic partnership to dramatically accelerate Advanced Placement (AP) qualifying scores among Kentucky students. She said the program does provide math, science, and English incentives for teachers and students taking AP courses and is looking for diversity with increased numbers of AP students and teachers. She said other goals of AdvanceKentucky™ include finding resources and networks to achieve gains and build capacity, start-up and long-term support to sustain gains, and obtaining longitudinal data reporting and analysis.
Dr. Lange said AdvanceKentucky™ began in 2007 and is a six-year partnership between KSTC and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). Under conditions of matching over six years, NMSI has committed $13.2 million to AdvanceKentucky™. She described the NMSI’s competitive process. Out of 28 states that submitted proposals, Kentucky was one of six states to receive the grant. A detailed presentation and examples of the cohort 1 high schools is included in the meeting folder located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Representative Miller said the problem he sees with AP testing is that the majority of the students who are taking the test do not get the points needed to be counted for college credit. He asked how many students taking the test actually take the credits to college and what percentage take the test and go to college. He also asked what criteria was used in the selection of the cohort schools used in the project and who made the final selection of those schools.
Dr. Lange said as part of the overall competitive proposal to the NMSI, KSTC was required to identify schools and did that in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education. She said criteria used in selecting the schools included size of enrollment and capacity. Twelve schools were chosen after visiting 24 applicant schools.
Representative Miller asked how many students in the 12 schools selected actually took credits to college. Dr. Lange said she cannot answer that question because since the schools were just selected the students will not take their exams until the spring of 2009. She said research has identified students who take the AP courses and the AP exams improve their ability to attend, stay, and graduate from college in a timely manner. She also said NMSI requires that longitudinal data be tracked on the students so the information will be available in the future.
Representative Miller said AdvanceKentucky™ will be a great program and has shown immediate success. He feels it is imperative to provide teachers training in the program to keep it successful.
Senator Borders asked why there are 30 counties east of Laurel and Whitley Counties that did not receive programs. Dr. Lange said there are 41 schools on the list that are still eligible and the program will be moving more aggressively to get them on board. She said the first round of schools was selected very hurriedly and there was not a chance to reach out to individual schools or geographic areas.
Senator Borders said he sees three schools that were selected for the program in a 30 mile radius and no schools selected within 100 square miles, and feels the program needs to recognize that part of the state because while it has some of the poorest counties in the nation, it also has some of the best academic excellence schools.
Dr. Lange said schools in that geographic region did not apply for the program. She noted that KSTC has applied for an Appalachian Regional Commission grant to specifically fund schools located in that region. The grant also looks at clustering schools so that sharing and mentoring can take place among schools.
Senator Tori said she found it interesting that English had been included in the program as a major factor for AP classes. She said Kentucky students have been educated under the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), which includes writing portfolios, and asked what bearing on qualifications for English AP classes that may have had as opposed to other states whose students have not been educated under education reform acts.
Dr. Lange said that is a good question and she did not know the answer. She said a content director has been hired statewide in science and English, and possibly math. The English director will focus on tying the English AP and writing portfolio together.
Senator Winters introduced Mr. John Akers, Executive Director, Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS), to give a status report. Mr. Akers gave a report on the history of the center and told members the full 2007 annual report was previously mailed to them. He said the primary goal of KCSS is to provide a safe learning environment for the students and teachers.
Mr. Akers said the center’s primary audience remains the state’s educators. The KCSS will continue to provide expertise and support to state agencies and will need to revise previously offered services to meet new budget allocations.
Mr. Akers said goals of the future are to: 1) continue to find ways to support Kentucky educators as they diligently protect Kentucky students; 2) enhance current level of “cost-free” services while continually reviewing and improving existing programs; 3) continue to identify and address school safety concerns as they involve such as: behavioral issues; school climate and culture, (which is a key component for enhancing academic achievement); aggressively address the drug and alcohol problem (pandemic) that plagues Kentucky schools; and provide updates0 and training for the Emergency Management Guide.
Representative Wuchner asked if schools are charged for the assessment of the safety of the building; whether the assessments being conducted by risk management and insurance companies are duplicative of the assessments currently being conducted; and whether the expense of the assessment should be picked up by the insurance and risk management companies now that KCSS has had to reduce some services; and whether there are new resources surfacing since the federal funding and federal grants that were once available are beginning to dry up.
Mr. Akers said the federal funds have been greatly reduced due to monies being distributed to the Champions Against Drugs program and because of budget issues in Washington, D.C. surrounding the war in Iraq.
Mr. Aker said he does not agree with risk management specialists doing cultured climate assessments because he wants educators talking with other educators. He said insurance folks only look at the physical safety of the building and relationships between teachers and students fall through the cracks. Mr. Akers said the people he utilizes to conduct the assessment have vast experience in running good and successful schools and work together with students, parents, bus drivers, teachers, and principals to get everyone on the same page.
Representative Wuchner said she has received numerous calls from law enforcement, school board association members, and attorneys wanting to know the intent of the bullying bill legislation and how it will be applied. She reminded them and sent them a copy of the flyer that their respective agencies had endorsed the legislation and hopefully figured out the intent.
Mr. Akers said KCSS endorsed the bullying bill legislation as well. He said implementing it will not be easy, but the KDE will have to identify what is a reportable offense and it will have to rise to the level of a felony to be a reportable offense. He said he will work with schools to help them understand the legislation. Principals, assistant principals, and law enforcement will have to work together to understand the implementation of the bill. Representative Wuchner mentioned that groups are concerned because fines and legal action can result if certain offenses are not reported that cause students intimidation and embarrassment.
Representative Miller said if schools are not safe then they will not have to worry about teaching AP courses or much of anything. He said reducing funding from KCSS is hurting Kentucky schools and taking away from education. He thanked Mr. Akers for the good job that KCSS does across the state in keeping its schools safe.
Senator Winters introduced Dr. Jon Draud, Commissioner, and Mr. Ken Draut, Associate Commissioner, Office of Assessment and Accountability, KDE, to give a status report on the development and pilot testing of end-of-course examinations and to discuss school calendar and school transportation issues. Dr. Draud introduced Ms. Michelle Sutton, Director, Division of Financial Management.
Dr. Draud said the pilot end-of-course examination project was funded through Title II federal funds as there was no state funding available for the project. He said advantages of end-of-course exams include obtaining reliable student data results in courses from students all across the state and promoting accountability in the education system. He also said that there were no general funds appropriated to continue the program.
Mr. Draut said Kentucky is currently involved in a 13 state consortium with Achieve for the development of an end-of-course exam for Algebra II. In October 2007, approximately 8,000 Kentucky students in 60 schools took the field test to help with item development. Another 1,000 students took an on-line version of the test. In February 2008, approximately 800 students were involved in a second round of field testing using an on-line test administration system. In May 2008, approximately 2,500 Kentucky students took the Algebra II pilot operational system. In the summer of 2009, the pilot operational test administration and results are being analyzed for future use. Reports, containing only raw scores, will be issued to participating schools in August. He said in May 2009, the full operational test will be administered with standard-setting sessions to establish performance level categories conducted in the summer.
Dr. Draud said the school calendars should be developed to help the students, not the adults. He believes that schools need full instructional days in order to meet the requirement of 1,062 instructional hours that are currently required in statute. He is allowing school districts to complete a form and submit to the Commissioner for approval of an alternative calendar. He said the main criteria for approval is the schools keep the traditional six-hour day unless they can justify how it will improve instruction. He said only two school districts in the state right now have implemented the four-day school week and it is too early to tell any potential downfalls or benefits.
Ms. Sutton said the transportation costs increased $71 million from 2003-2004 to 2007-2008, but the funding for transportation increased $3.5 million. She said this information will be distributed to the school districts in the near future.
Dr. Draud said he has appointed a taskforce to study transportation issues with Dr. Larry Stinson, Associate Commissioner, Office of District and Support Services, being appointed chair. This task force will look at the transportation formula to see if it can be tweaked and used more effectively.
Senator Winters said many legislators received phone calls from schools that could not rationalize why their ranking caused them to get more or less transportation funding with virtually no revenue change. Dr. Draud said he did not have an answer at this time.
Senator Winters asked for data on district density and transportation funding so he can answer questions from constituents. Ms. Sutton said she would provide him with the information.
Senator Winters asked how classified personnel, such as bus drivers and cooks, would accrue health insurance and retirement when the school calendar is changed significantly. Dr. Draud said as long as they meet the minimum requirements of hours then they will be eligible for health benefits and retirement, but he will check more into the situation on the number of days classified or hourly employees must work.
Senator Winters introduced Ms. Helen Mountjoy, Secretary, Education Cabinet, to give an overview of the reorganization of the Education Cabinet. Ms. Mountjoy explained Executive Reorganization Order 2008-530 and Dr. Draud explained Executive Reorganization Order 2008-515. The detailed reorganization chart and orders are located in the meeting folders located in the LRC library.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked Ms. Mountjoy if the new Office of Educational Programs would have an executive director and what the salary of the position would be. Ms. Mountjoy said the office would have an executive director and the salary has not yet been determined.
No action was taken on the executive orders.
Senator Winters introduced Mr. Kevin Noland, Deputy Commissioner and Mr. Mark Ryles, Division Director, Facilities Management Division, KDE, to explain administrative regulation 702 KAR 4:180, which discusses the implementation guidelines for the Kentucky School Facilities Planning Manual.
Senator Winters asked if someone had to be a resident of the county to be appointed to the local school planning committee. Mr. Noland said, “yes.”
Senator Winters asked about the increase of architectural fees. Mr. Noland said it says 35 percent, but it is actually not a significant increase.
Senator Winters asked if this change required the architect to be hired and on board to advise as the district facility plan is created. Mr. Ryles said the administrative regulation changes the timing so that evaluations are made available early on to the planning committee. He said the key is not the scope of the work that the architects do, but that the evaluations be available from the beginning.
Senator Winters asked if the planning committee determines when the architect becomes involved. Mr. Ryles said KDE staff meets with the planning committee to orient and train them to utilize the architect early as part of their planning efforts.
Senator Winters asked if the 35 percent increase applies to the fee that an architect might draw as an adviser, but has nothing to do with the fee that he or she might be paid to become the designer and site manager. Mr. Noland said that was correct. The designer and site manager may or may not be the same architect that was the advisor.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.