Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefifth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, October 10, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in the Clay Community Center, Mount Sterling, Kentucky. Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair; Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Denise Harper Angel, Jimmy Higdon, Alice Forgy Kerr, Gerald A. Neal, R.J. Palmer II, Jack Westwood, and Mike Wilson; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Leslie Combs, Ted Edmonds, C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Kelly Flood, Jim Glenn, Derrick Graham, Donna Mayfield, Reginald Meeks, Rick G. Nelson, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, and Ben Waide.
Legislative Guest: Representative Richard Henderson.
Guests: Charles Comer, UK Coop Extension Service; Lloyd Cassidy, County Commissioner; Wallace Johnson, Montgomery County Judge-Executive; Sandy Romensta, Industrial Authority and Chamber; Nancy Hutchinson and Burnsy Stewart, Bath County Schools; John Karays, MSU Mt. Sterling; Robert Haynes, Education; Tom Marshall, Mt. Sterling Advocate; Vicky Brown, Powell County Schools; Tom Dorman, LRC; Meg and Bill Steinman; Jim Thompson, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Bill Watson M&M Pantry; Will Kayatin, MSU; Gary Hutson, Open Eyes, Inc.; Michael Tate, Powell County Schools; Norma Patton, SHIP; Ron Catchew, Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Service; Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents and Jefferson County Public Schools; Donna Wilson, Montgomery County Board of Education; Keith White, Office of Education Accountability, LRC; Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Mary S. Buckley, Department of Juvenile Justice; and Sue Cain, Council on Postsecondary Education.
Welcome and Introductions
Representative Henderson welcomed the committee and introduced local Montgomery County officials. He said that Mount Sterling is geared for growth and diverse manufacturing powers the region. Montgomery County is the employment, shopping, and dining hub for a region of more than 100,000 people. With 5,000 manufacturing jobs in the county, more people commute into the region than out for employment. World-class industries such as Nestle, Cooper Standard, MASCO, Kyosan Denso, and Summit Polymers, among others, have located in Mount Sterling, and they have been successful and continue to grow.
Overview of Montgomery County Schools
Josh Powell, Superintendent, Montgomery County Schools, said Montgomery County schools has a total population of about 5,000 students. There are three elementary schools with a new one under construction, set to open in fall 2012. The middle school and high school have facilities that set them apart from other schools in Kentucky. Morehead State University (MSU) has an extended campus onsite at the Clay Community Center. Maysville Community College serves the needs for technical training to the local industry.
Mr. Powell expressed concern with the Office of Education Accountability’s (OEA) policies and procedures. He feels OEA is preventing school districts from making educational gains.
Wayne Andrews, President, MSU, said MSU is proud to partner with Montgomery County and has its newest and largest extended campus located in the Clay Community Center, next to the high school, which makes offering dual credits and college courses to high school seniors easy. MSU has five regional campuses, but the one at the Clay Community Center is the fastest growing.
In response to questions from Representative Collins, Dr. Andrews said the pharmacy school in Paintsville that is partnering with Midway College should receive accreditation and open in January 2012. Representative Collins discussed the abuse over the years in proprietary and independent schools. Dr. Andrews said abuses are widespread. However, students using Pell Grant funds must maintain a certain grade point average or be placed on probation. He noted the federal loan default rate acts as an equalizer across universities.
Approval of Minutes
Upon obtaining a quorum, Representative Collins moved to approve the minutes of the September 12, 2011, meeting. Representative Flood seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by voice vote.
Energy Manager Program
David Baird, Associate Executive Director, Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA), said the Kentucky School Energy Managers Project (SEMP) and the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) are helping schools maximize their energy savings with the help of professionals. The SEMP, funded with a $5.1 million federal economic stimulus grant and managed by the KSBA and the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence, has placed 35 local energy managers to work in more than 130 Kentucky school districts. Many of those districts have banded together to share the expertise of an energy manager. Each participating district must contribute a portion of its manager’s salary, demonstrating the depth of commitment. A companion grant, Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC), will enable KEEPS to provide a package of tools, training, coaching, and expertise to assist all districts in developing a systems approach to energy management.
Ron Willhite, Director, Energy Managers Project, KSBA, said two decades ago, Kentucky was a national leader in education reform. Today, the state is attracting national attention with its energy-efficient schools, both new and retrofitted. A key concept in energy savings is sustainability. The legacy of this program will be firmly established in Kentucky’s schools, even after the federal funding is gone. It will be visible in the reduced energy bills districts pay, in the savings that may be used to retain teachers and in heightened awareness by staff and students of how the smallest of changes, like flipping off a light switch, can make a big difference. It is also anticipated that the school districts will realize enough savings to sustain the position of energy manager to continue the focus on energy cost containment. Most importantly, the legacy of this project will be visible in the next generation and those students who absorb the lesson of energy efficiency in their schools and carry it forward.
Mr. Willhite said that the 2008 executive and legislative initiatives, including KRS 160.325, mandated the reduction of school energy costs and providing intelligent energy choices for Kentucky’s future. A seven point strategy for energy independence was identified, and the goal is to reduce projected 2025 consumption by 16 percent.
Mr. Willhite encouraged public school districts to respond to rising energy costs by focusing on the management of various uses of energy. Local boards of education were required to enroll in KEEPS. KEEPS will produce an annual report on the development of energy management plans and anticipated savings to be obtained by those plans.
Mr. Willhite said the creation of the SEMP evolved into a management team and 29 partnerships involving 130 districts formed, leading to employment of 36 energy managers. Along with 14 existing energy managers, 144 districts benefit from services of a fulltime energy specialist. During a two-year grant period, local energy managers will visit every school in the districts they serve. They will: establish energy teams; facilitate development of energy efficient goals; analyze utility bills; evaluate HVAC and lighting systems; educate staff and students; foster wise energy choices; and develop and implement an energy management plan. He said a handful of school districts that have piloted similar programs with full-time energy managers have reaped astounding savings. In just seven months, energy managers have identified more than $2 million in annual cost savings and over $400,000 in refunds and rebates for districts. Energy star schools have increased from 68 to 107.
Mike Cooper, Energy Manager, Montgomery, Clark, and Bourbon County Schools and Paris Independent Schools, said anticipated cost savings will result from rate corrections, lighting retrofits, HVAC control, computer hibernation, awareness, refunds, rebates, and equipment shutdown. The KSBA and the Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association (KISTA) have provided an economical funding mechanism to facilitate these small improvement projects.
Mr. Willhite concluded that opportunities moving forward will be building commissions, control system training, succession planning, and utility purchasing expertise. He said $3 million would extend the SEMP funding for two years, and he would ask for a 50/50 match in year three and a 25/75 match in year four. The ultimate goal is to serve all 174 school districts and employ 50 energy mangers.
In response to a question by Representative Flood, Mr. Willhite said the energy managers who are serving 145 school districts are appropriately being called “boots on the ground.” While districts have not ignored energy efficiency practices in the past, for the first time they have a trained specialist whose full-time responsibility is to focus around-the-clock on making intelligent energy choices. He said working in concert with the KSBA’s SEMP team and the state Department of Energy Development and Independence (DEDI), has fostered the formation of an Energy in Education collaborative to support schools in their efforts to save dollars that can be better utilized in the classroom. He said it is exciting to see teachers utilize the resources of the National Energy Education Development program, the Green and Healthy Schools Project and the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools to prepare students to begin taking that knowledge home to foster a new community awareness of best energy practices.
Responding to a question from Representative Graham, Mr. Willhite said the grouping of the school districts on the map included in the meeting materials located in the Legislative Research Library was determined by counting school districts. Mr. Cooper said there is communication with all school facilities about reducing energy consumption.
In response to a question from Senator Kerr, Mr. Baird said some counties are not participating in the SEMP program. He said it was mainly due to timing and budgetary issues. Some districts could not justify hiring an energy manager while laying off teachers at the same time. He said many of those districts have communicated that they want to participate in better economic times.
Margaret Steinman, parent, Fayette County, testified that her daughter did not receive a high school diploma, and this kept her from obtaining employment. Studies show that students who earn a certificate of attainment will earn 15 to 20 percent less than a high school graduate. Representative Palumbo said she would like to meet with Ms. Steinman in Lexington at a later time to discuss the matter in more detail.
Pat Taylor testified on behalf of her grandson, Roy Taylor, who graduated from Simpson County. She does not believe it is good policy for special needs students to earn certificates of attainment rather than high school diplomas. She suggested adding “honorary” at the bottom of the high school diplomas if students had not met all the criteria for graduation. Testing should be different and accommodations made for special needs students. She also said providing funding for tutors is essential because her grandson would not have graduated if he had not received assistance from a tutor.
Robin Chandler, Policy Advisor and Legislative Liaison, Office of Next Generation Learners, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), said the foundation of the American Diploma Project (ADP) is ensuring that students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and careers. The ADP benchmarks for the end of high school were written in 2004 to describe the skills needed for success in postsecondary education and work. The benchmarks are cumulative, describing what students need to learn by the end of high school. She said states have requested more information about the detail of progression of content and skills students would need to master through the grades in order to meet the end-of-high school ADP benchmarks. To address this, the program is tracking ADP benchmarks in mathematics from grade 12 down through kindergarten, and in English from grade 12 down through grade 4.
Johnny Collett, Assistant Director of Division of Learning Services, KDE, said the Individual Education Program (IEP) is determined locally each year. The Admission and Release Committee (ARC) will help to determine a program for each individual student. The ARC is the sole authority in determining the needs of a child. It must have a representative on the committee that is authorized to commit to district funds within the committee meeting. The IEP again should be very specific as to when the program will be in place, with trained personnel for the students.
Tracy Goff-Herman, Policy Advisor and Legislative Liaison, Office of Guiding Support Services, KDE, said the Commonwealth Diploma was initiated as a special recognition for students taking a very rigorous curriculum and is considered a higher level than a standard diploma. There are currently 1,500 students participating and on the path to receive the Commonwealth Diploma. She said the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) has voted not to repeal the administrative regulation eliminating the diploma for one year in order to not affect the students who registered for the courses prior to the 2012-2013 school year.
In response to a question from Representative Rollins, Ms. Chandler said KDE is discussing adding specific student recognitions to transcripts. Representative Rollins said employers need to know what specific skills a student has and those skills should be listed on a transcript. He also said the committee would revisit the issue of diplomas as several parents are upset about the abolishment of the Commonwealth Diploma.
Responding to questions from Representative Carney, Mr. Collett said that the IEP for students receiving special education services is revisited and updated each year. This is to help ensure that the students are progressing and on track to meet their education goals. He said the Admissions and Release Committee is typically comprised of the student’s regular teacher, a special education teacher, an assessment person, a parent, and possibly a speech pathologist.
Senator Winters mentioned that Senator Westwood’s bill on career pathways designates dedicated career counselors. He said this is a key element to lower the dropout rate in Kentucky. He also said high performing students could tutor students needing additional assistance.
Responding to questions from Representative Graham, Ms. Goff-Herman said that some states offer a high school diploma for special needs students and others offer a certificate of attainment, such as Kentucky. She noted that students receiving special education services can still obtain a high school diploma if they can meet the criteria, but the goal for some is to obtain a certificate of attainment. There are 106,000 Kentucky students who have an IEP, and 4,831 of those will participate in Kentucky’s alternate certificate program.
In response to a question from Representative Glenn, Ms. Goff-Herman said students receiving a certificate of attainment, like other special education students, can receive transitional services. She noted that some students with standard high school diplomas are still not employable.
Senator Westwood said every Kentucky student should have an IEP. He believes students should have an individual learning plan (ILP) in the fourth grade rather than the sixth grade. He said a career counselor is so important to guide students on the path to college or career success.
Representative Rollins said his problem with the certificate of attainment is that it does not show what skills a student has obtained. Ms. Taylor said the certificate of attainment is no benefit to the student and the system should be modified to allow all students to receive standard diplomas. Ms. Steinman said the Admissions and Release Committee will tell parents that the school district has placed their child on an alternative diploma track and the parents can do nothing about it because the majority of the committee rules the decision.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at noon.