Thefourth meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, October 12, 2009, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Vernie McGaha, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators David Givens, Tim Shaughnessy, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Derrick Graham, Jimmy Higdon, Charles Miller, Rick G. Nelson, Marie Rader, Kent Stevens, Wilson Stone, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Legislative Guest: Representative Addia Wuchner
Guests: Commissioner Terry Holliday, Kentucky Department of Education; Tom Lund, Marion County Industrial Foundation; Ken Marrett, Maewood Cabinet Company, Lebanon; Laura Arnold, Marion County Area Technology Center; Will Hodges, Larue County Schools; Deborah Anderson, Diane Sharp, Karla Tipton, and Debra Tankersly, Division of Career and Technical Education, Kentucky Department of Education; Clyde Caudill and Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; and Karen Thomas Lentz, Commonwealth Alliances.
LRC Staff: Janet Stevens, Sandy Deaton, and Janet Oliver.
Senator McGaha asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the August 10 and September 14, 2009, meetings of the subcommittee. Upon motion by Representative Collins, seconded by Representative Stone, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senator McGaha said the focus of the meeting would be the Kentucky Tech System. He welcomed Secretary Helen Mountjoy of the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development and asked her to give her presentation.
Secretary Mountjoy said that career and technical education plays an important role in providing Kentucky’s youth a jumpstart on a career path through a rigorous curriculum and training in skills necessary to lead a productive life. She said the cabinet’s goal for each student is that they be provided the education and skills necessary to prepare them for either postsecondary education and/or the workplace, especially since most new jobs in the 21st century will require education beyond the secondary level. Secretary Mountjoy explained that students can access career and technical education through courses offered at comprehensive high schools; through locally operated career and technical centers; or through the area technology centers operated by the Office for Career and Technical Education in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. She said that a highly educated and trained workforce is one of the greatest incentives Kentucky can offer to companies looking to locate or expand their operations in the state. She introduced Mr. John Marks, Executive Director, Office of Career and Technical Education, and asked him to provide additional information to the committee.
Mr. Marks introduced the following staff who assisted him with the presentation: Michael Kindred, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Career and Technical Education; and Mark White, Deputy Executive Director and Acting Division Director for the Division of Human Resources. Members of the committee were provided with materials relating to the KY Tech School System.
Mr. Marks said the Office of Career and Technical Education oversees the KY Tech School System and works closely with the Chancellor’s Office of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and the Office of Special Instructional Services in the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education. He said the three entities meet frequently to discuss curriculum, articulation, and dual credit and also share resources, such as Perkins grant funding. Mr. Marks said the KY Tech School System has 54 centers across the state and the handouts provided to committee members contains information about center locations, counties served, programs offered, and enrollment data.
Mr. White provided information on the personnel statutes and requirements to employ staff for KY Tech System. He explained that employees are governed by KRS Chapter 151B, whereas executive branch employees are governed by KRS Chapter 18A. He said that vacancies are posted on the Cabinet Website and at each area technology center and all applications are reviewed by designated Cabinet staff. Technical instructors are required to have at a minimum a Rank III Kentucky Teaching Certificate in the subject area to be taught and may also be required to have other certifications, such as being required to be a registered nurse in order to teach health science. Qualifications of applicants for teaching positions are verified through the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) and each applicant must also be approved through criminal background checks.
Mr. Marks said the Office of Career and Technical Education oversees the KY Tech School System but each individual center has an advisory committee and a steering committee. There is also a state steering committee comprised of representatives of the local advisory and steering committees who meet periodically to discuss curriculum and other issues. Mr. Marks stated that KY Tech has 636 full time positions of which 625 were filled as of October 9, 2009, leaving 11 vacancies to be filled, and that 30 positions have been eliminated due to budgetary cuts. The system currently has 401 technical programs in its 54 centers serving 33,493 students from 125 local school districts. Some districts are also served by the Kentucky Virtual Area Technology Center.
Mr. Marks said that KY Tech works in conjunction with KCTCS and KDE’s Division of Career and Technical Education on the summer conference; embedded student organizations, such as FFA; business, health, and information technology programs; credentials for teachers; and Level III programming. KDE takes the lead in Levels I and II programming for middle and early high school; the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment; High Schools That Work; Project Lead the Way; and agriculture, family and consumer science, distributive, and technology education. KY Tech takes the lead in program assessment for 17 standards; articulation and dual credit; the Ky Tech curriculum; technical upgrade training, the New Teacher Institute; manufacturing, transportation, and construction training; and the Kentucky Virtual Area Technology Center, which currently has about 90 students enrolled at no cost to the student.
Mr. Marks said KY Tech is the only Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS-CASI) accredited technical school system in the nation. Every program offered in the KY Tech system is assessed and all programs and teachers are required to hold industry certifications when available. KY Tech is a state government agency and must comply with all statutory and regulatory requirements relating to purchasing, contracts, payroll, budget, etc., and has an established personnel employment cap and is directly affected by budget cuts.
Mr. Marks said KY Tech’s role in secondary education revolves around contextual learning which is defined as learning that motivates students by showing them a connection between knowledge and its application in one’s daily life in order to keep them mentally and physically engaged in the subject being taught. He said KY Tech uses 17 standards of assessment which were the foundation for its SACS accreditation. Three of the most important components of assessment include tracking KY Tech student scores on the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS); the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment (KOSSA), which is used to report technical attainment to the federal government; and the Technical Education Data System (TEDS), which tracks the placement of students upon completion of the KY Tech program; i.e., employment, military, postsecondary education, etc. Mr. Marks said the articulation agreement between KCTCS and KY Tech allows any student who has taken an eligible course at an area technology center to transfer the credit to a KCTCS institution within three years. The dual credit agreement allows students to receive college credit while still in high school and recent statistics from KCTCS show that over 10,000 secondary students are enrolled in technical courses. He said qualified KY Tech teachers also serve as KCTCS adjunct faculty.
Mr. Marks said that KCTCS, KDE, and KY Tech vocational efforts are not duplicative even though they coordinate activities. KY Tech is funded through a combination of General Fund appropriation, Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding, and $1.2 million of the $19.7 Carl D. Perkins grant funding. He said maintaining the SEEK funding has been crucial in continuing the KY Tech program, since stimulus funds cannot be directly used to support KY Tech. He said that KY Tech has taken over a $4 million budget reduction which has tremendously hindered its operation with drastic cuts in its supply and equipment budget in order to retain enough funding to pay utility bills. Extended employment for staff in the summer months, previously used for professional development, equipment repair by staff, and staff exchange with industry, has been reduced to no more than three days. Mr. Marks said his office receives numerous requests from counties wanting new programs or to expand current programs and facilities, especially in the health and information technology areas, but there is little that can be done at the current time because of the cuts.
Mr. Marks said another problematic issue is that KY Tech centers serving several districts face scheduling difficulties because of the various school calendars and schedules. He said another issue is obtaining academic credit for technical classes because of the highly qualified educator requirement in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). He said some of the programs offered cover enough academic content that they could count as a fourth math or science credit and a few counties have allowed the programs to be used as credit toward graduation. KY Tech has partnered with the National Center for Research in Career and Technical Education at the University of Louisville on a project at Morehead State University called Math in CTE to help KY Tech teachers incorporate academic content into technical classes. He said allowing resident math and science teachers to provide academic courses on-site would enable juniors and seniors to remain at the centers throughout the day. He said it would be helpful if each center had on-site career counselors. Mr. Marks said industry is looking toward technical education to prepare a well trained workforce for them and KY Tech tries to ensure that each of its students leaves the program with an industry certification and sufficient education to pursue a college degree without remediation.
Senator Westwood said he was encouraged that technical programs are being considered for academic credit and that academic content is being incorporated into the classes. He said he agrees with the concept of providing practical answers to students to show relevance to what they are being asked to learn. Senator Westwood asked how much support KY Tech is receiving from businesses and industries since it is those entities that need well trained workers. Mr. Marks said many of the centers do receive support in the form of supplies, such as donated steel for use in the welding programs. Senator Westwood said it is his hope that someday there will be an integrated educational system in Kentucky to help all students, whether they are on a career work path or furthering their education, through embedded academics in course work.
Representative Higdon said the legislature has allowed technical education to become the “red-headed stepchild” through insufficient funding and lack of support. He said technical education is extremely important in helping to prepare the more than 50% of students who do not plan to attend college for a successful work career. Representative Higdon said he is a firm believer that each child is gifted and technical education helps them to identify those special talents. He said Kentucky also has the responsibility to industry and local communities to develop a highly qualified workforce. Representative Higdon said he was surprised about the cuts in the technical education budget during the 2009 Special Session because education, human services, and public protection were supposed to be protected from the budget cuts. He said he wanted to publicly thank Secretary Mountjoy, Mike Hayden in the Governor’s office, and Representative Rollins for stepping up to prevent further cuts from happening. Representative Higdon asked if there is anything the legislature can do to help elevate the status of technical education in Kentucky, such as bringing all the technical programs under one organizational unit. Mr. Marks said that although technical education is in three different agencies, each works with different constituent groups. KDE’s services are provided within high schools governed by local boards of education and taught by faculty in those schools; Ky Tech provides technical education to students in technical schools; and KCTCS supports the college mission for technical education. Mr. Marks said the most important support is adequate funding. He said that all education will need to resemble technical education by adding relevance and relationship to learning if Kentucky wants to reduce dropout rates and beginning career development as early as middle school. Representative Higdon stressed the importance of continuing the dialogue regarding technical education and developing a plan to ensure its continued operation.
Representative Miller asked how teachers are selected, if they are required to possess certain credentials, and if the dual credit is transferrable to colleges. Mr. Marks said the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requires that teachers of technical programs have credentials as high as the level they are teaching, so KY Tech teachers must have as a minimum an associate degree. He said many teachers employed by KY Tech already have associate degrees, but those who do not are enrolled in a community college where tuition is waived to obtain a minimum of an associate degree. Also, many complete higher degrees with a pay raise provided for each degree attained. Mr. Marks said that teachers with associate degrees are accepted as adjunct faculty at the community colleges and that KY Tech works closely with the community colleges to ensure curriculum alignment between the two systems. Representative Miller asked how many hours a student can transfer to a community college. Mr. Marks responded that the average number of hours is 12 although some students leave with as many as 30 or as few as three to six. Representative Miller asked how many students are bused in from public, private, and parochial schools to get to the centers to which Mr. Marks responded that the majority of students are bused to the 54 systems. Representative Miller asked if the health programs offered by KY Tech conflict with those offered in high school. Mr. Marks said KY Tech’s health programs include pre-nursing, certified nurse’s aide, licensed practical nurse, medication aide, and pharmacy technicians, which are not offered in high school. Representative Miller said students and industry benefit from technical training and he encouraged Mr. Marks to continue working on industry partnerships.
Representative Belcher said she also supports technical education and believes it can significantly reduce dropout rates. She asked why Jefferson County is not involved with KY Tech. Mr. Marks said that Jefferson and Fayette Counties have their own programs, with KDE providing oversight. Representative Belcher asked why some counties have as many as eleven programs and other counties have only four or five. Mr. Marks said the programs offered in each center are determined by size of the facilities, enrollment, school district support, and industry involvement. Representative Belcher said her legislative district is interested in an industrial maintenance program. She noted that the buildings housing vocational programs are outdated compared to public school facilities. Mr. Marks said that KY Tech does have some new and renovated facilities. He said the buildings belong to the counties and some counties have used bonds to improve the facilities, but in return they expect KY Tech to replace equipment, such as welders, and KY Tech currently does not have the resources to replace equipment.
Representative Nelson asked if Jefferson County chose not to be in the KY Tech system to which Mr. Marks replied that they have always operated their own program. Representative Nelson said when Bell County began its technical program in the 1960s, it offered programs in electricity, plumbing, and other “dirty hands” occupations but has since changed to programs in technology and health services, although plumbing, electrical, and related professions still need skilled workers. He asked Mr. Marks if he could provide a recommendation on how to encourage students to select a vocational track or career path in their freshman year of high school. He said plumbers and electrician are good paying occupations but many students do not have any desire to pursue those occupations. He also asked if anything can be done to resolve the scheduling conflict between school districts and KY Tech schools. Mr. Marks said scheduling is difficult because districts have various schools calendars and KY Tech staff continuously work with school personnel to resolve scheduling issues. Representative Nelson said that it would be very beneficial for students to decide on a career path as early as possible to provide them adequate education to ensure their success.
Representative Carney said many site-based councils may not be aware that some of the math and science courses taught at KY Tech can count toward graduation requirements and that information needs to be made available to them. He said in his school district students must be at least a junior before they can take vocational classes, which may not be the most efficient way to serve the needs of all students. Mr. Marks said that the Campbell County Area Technology Center may be able to provide recommendations on how to obtain credit for certain classes. Representative Carney said that KDE should inform all districts about the possibility of obtaining credits for the vocational classes.
Representative Stone said there are two locally owned and operated career and technical schools in his district that work with the school system on scheduling students for classes. He said Allen County, which is in his district, received a $250,000 grant from local industry to establish a maintenance program in its school. Representative Stone asked what obstacles or challenges would prevent site-based councils or local school boards from accepting the courses as credit. Mr. Marks said he believes many of the site-based councils are concerned that they would be unable to meet the highly qualified educator requirements in NCLB, so therefore it is a lack of communication and understanding of the issue.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked if any staff from technical education is participating in the Senate Bill 1 curriculum workgroups. Mr. Marks said that no one from Ky Tech or his office has been assigned to the workgroups although KDE’s technical education staff is participating. Representative Webb-Edgington said that since there are three entities involved, she could see the challenges in coordinating technical education and representatives from each should be participating in Senate Bill 1 workgroups. She said that streamlining the bureaucracy may help resolve some of the issues. She said there is a great need in the Northern Kentucky area for trained health service workers and interested students are being turned away in the Boone County technical system because of insufficient funding.
Senator Givens asked Mr. Marks if he would describe what makes a program stellar in difficult financial times. Mr. Marks said a good program results from good teachers, a good relationship between the administrator and industry representatives, and active community involvement. Senator Givens said often times increased funding does not resolve problems if good staff and good working relationships do not exist. He said he is aware that one of the centers in his area was sharing physical resources with local industry to train students after regular work shifts end and asked if that is being pursued across the state. Mr. Marks said previously KY Tech served both high school students and adults but that KCTCS now provides training for adults, although in some communities training is provided by KY Tech in industry settings because there are no KCTCS facilities in close proximity. He said KY Tech still works with Bluegrass State Skills but does not become involved with other entities providing technical training.
Representative Rader asked what role KY Tech has in the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), a federally funded program that provides training in nursing or other occupations for dislocated workers. Mr. Marks responded that KY Tech is not involved with the program, but he would be willing to contact them to see if a partnership could be developed and would keep Representative Rader informed of any discussions.
Representative Stevens said that he has always supported technical education but could recall the difficulties in transporting students to the facilities, that the classes were only offered to juniors and seniors, and that a stigma was always attached to any student wanting to pursue a career in technical fields, although many of those same students became highly paid skilled workers. Mr. Marks said some of those issues and stigma still remain. He said that a program will be aired on Kentucky Educational Television (KET) promoting the importance of career and technical education in Kentucky for students who do not plan to attend college.
Senator McGaha asked about trends related to demand for classes, to which Mr. Marks replied that there is a tremendous demand for more classes. He said even though some centers are not at capacity because they are required to accommodate a percentage of students for each school they serve, most centers cannot accommodate the number of students wanting to enroll. Senator McGaha asked how much funding is needed to meet the increasing demand. Mr. Marks said almost all of the centers need to be remodeled and 10 or 15 more facilities are needed in order to add another hundred programs. Senator McGaha recommended that legislators review the impressive assessment program used by KY Tech. He said he agrees with the concept that each student should know the relevance of being asked to learn any subject. He said that increasing the mandatory school attendance age will not be effective until more programs such as those offered by KY Tech can be fully funded to help educate students.
Representative Graham described a conflict that exists in his district which results in the independent school district not being allowed to provide technical education to its students and he asked if similar situations are occurring in other parts of the state. He asked if assistance could be provided to help alleviate such a situation. Mr. Marks said Franklin County’s technical school is not part of the KY Tech system but he would be glad to support KDE in any way possible to help resolve the issue. He said Franklin County’s technical school is very good and would benefit all students who attend it.
Mr. Marks asked Ms. Bettie Tipton, Manager of Federal Programs in the Office of Career and Technical Education, to discuss the Carl D. Perkins Act Federal Grant. Information was provided to members regarding the Perkins Act.
Ms. Tipton said a career and technical education program is defined as an organized educational activity that includes a sequence of courses that build upon previous courses, includes challenging academics, and relates to technical knowledge and skills that are relevant to what is occurring in business and industry. When students are finished with the coursework, they should have obtained some type of industry credential in current and emerging occupations. The definition does not include remedial education. The courses must include competency based learning, such as teaching students how to reason and solve problems, and specific technical skills and entrepreneurship. Ms. Tipton said Perkins funding is to supplement non-federal funds to improve career and technical education programs and prepare students for employment or continuing education with a focus on high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations or professions. Training is to be for current and emerging occupations, uses technology as a teaching tool, and consists of integrated academics with technical content that is embedded so students know why they are learning the information. She said the funds are also to be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs and to initiate improvement where needed.
Ms. Tipton said eligible recipients are local school districts, KY Tech schools, community and technical colleges, and universities that have associate degree career and technical education programs. She said the law mandates how Perkins funding is to be allocated. In local school districts, 30% of the funding is based on the number of students ages 5-17 and 70% of the allocation is based on students ages 5-17 whose families are at or below poverty level. A proportionate amount of the federal dollars follows students to the area technology centers. Postsecondary education funding is based on the number of Pell Grant students enrolled in career and technical education and is distributed accordingly throughout the colleges and universities. She explained that the funding split for secondary and postsecondary education is left to state discretion with 53% provided to secondary and 47% to postsecondary in Kentucky, simply because there are more secondary students enrolled in career and technical education than in postsecondary. The basic grant funding has been decreasing since FY 2003 when Kentucky received $19,740,000 to FY 2009 basic grant funding of $17,905,000. The funding is then allocated with 85% of the funds going directly to schools; 10% for statewide leadership activities to keep curriculum current and to provide professional development to increase teacher effectiveness; and then 5% for statewide administration of Perkins funds by the Office of Career and Technical Education, which is the designated agency to implement, administer and monitor the requirements of the Act. There is a minimum funding level of $15,000 for secondary schools. If the allocation falls below that amount in a district that is rural and sparsely populated, a waiver can be requested, but if the school district is in an urban area, then the local school has to join a consortium to merge funding to provide activities. The minimum funding level for postsecondary institutions is $50,000 but no waiver is available if the institution falls below that funding level.
Representative Collins asked if matching state funds are required. Ms. Tipton said there are two types of matching funds required. One is a dollar for dollar match on the state administration funding that is determined by the amount spent in the prior year and then a dollar for dollar match for maintenance of effort determined by previous year expenditures. Representative Collins asked if Kentucky is in danger of losing any of the federal funds if it does not provide the required state match. Ms. Tipton said Kentucky has had difficulty in providing the matching funds required for maintenance of effort and it still has not completely satisfied the match requirement for the current fiscal year. She said the law does allow a one year waiver which must be requested through the US Department of Education. Representative Collins asked if Perkins funding is provided to the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Center in Johnson County. Ms. Tipton replied that the center receives funding from the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which is separate from Perkins funding. Representative Collins said he is aware that the center may lose federal funds because of insufficient matching funds which will have a negative impact on the area. Representative Collins said if local school boards do not include technical facilities in their planning programs, the buildings will never be purchased or constructed for that purpose. He said KY Tech is providing an important component of education and that it is imperative to provide matching funds when required so as not to lose federal dollars for any program.
Representative Belcher said she is aware that many of the KY Tech programs want to expand and offer more programs and she asked how the determination is made on which center may offer more programs. Mr. Marks said it is based on several factors including facility space, equipment needed to expand or offer a new program, and surveys to gauge community, industry, and student support.
Representative Miller said that many freshmen in high school are not ready to select a career or academic path and career and technical programs are beneficial in helping students decide about the future.
Senator McGaha thanked Mr. Marks and his staff for the presentation and excellent materials provided to the committee. He said the next meeting of the subcommittee would be on Monday, November 9, in Frankfort. There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 AM.