In Kentucky, Lawmakers Complete Quiet Session
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative session. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The recently concluded 2007 legislative session in Kentucky offered little in the way of education initiatives, although lawmakers approved a $4.1 billion K-12 budget for fiscal 2008.
“It was a very light season for us,” said Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for the state department of education, adding that a slow legislative season is not unusual in the final months of a governor’s term. Gov. Fletcher, a Republican, has said that he will seek re-election in November.
Amanda Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, wrote in an e-mail last week that “nine bills relating to public schools passed and very few of those will even be noticed by educators after the laws become effective.”
The most noticeable bill passed in the session that concluded March 30 likely will be the “no pass, no drive” law, she said, which would take away driver’s licenses for 16- and 17-year-old students who drop out of school or fail to meet certain standards of academic achievement.
Lawmakers also passed legislation prohibiting cellphone use by school bus drivers, raising the amount of meeting expenses for which school board members can be reimbursed to $3,000 per year from $2,000, and requiring districts to share attendance records so that unexcused absences to determine truancy are cumulative if a student changes school districts.
Teachers’ unions applauded legislators’ rejection of a merit-pay proposal that would have given bonuses to a limited number of math and science teachers based on the subjects they teach and their students’ test scores.
Looking ahead, “the [Kentucky Education Association] lobbying team expects merit pay, pension, and health-insurance issues to be in play through the 2008 General Assembly,” says the Web site for the 38,500-member union, which is affiliated with the National Education Association.
Vol. 26, Issue 32, Page 24