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Report Shows K-12 Funding in Kentucky Slipping

A national report shows core funding for K-12 education in Kentucky is falling behind. (Greg Stotelmyer)
A national report shows core funding for K-12 education in Kentucky is falling behind. (Greg Stotelmyer)
October 21, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new national report shows that when education dollars are adjusted for inflation and student population, 23 states, including Kentucky, provide less core funding to elementary and secondary schools now than when the recession began.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that Kentucky's formula funding, known as SEEK, is down 13.1 percent from 2008, the third largest decrease.

Ashley Spalding, research and policy associate with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said the report debunks the perception that education funding in Kentucky has gone up.

"That's not the case when you take into consideration the number of students in our schools and the cumulative impact of inflation over time," she said. "These are cuts and these cuts have an impact on the quality of education and the state's economic growth."

In raw dollars, there is now more than $3 billion a year in SEEK, the 2017 budget allocation is about $105 million more than in 2008.

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said, while she commends state leaders for not cutting SEEK dollars from the budget, other cuts have taken their toll.

"For instance, textbooks were cut by 33 percent since 2008; after-school programs for kids have been cut by 30 percent; professional development for employees has been cut more than 30 percent," she explained.

The report shows Kentucky's total K-12 funding per-student is down 8.5 percent from 2008 when adjusted for inflation. Spalding said that underscores the need for tax reform.

"And if we don't bring in more revenue, we'll see even more cuts or certainly more stagnation," Spalding added. "We've got to invest in our communities by ending special-interest tax breaks so we can generate more revenue for our schools. "

The report noted that five of the eight states with the deepest cuts to education have also cut their income tax rates, one of the main sources of education funding. Spalding said that's a "warning sign" to Kentucky, which has not done that.

The full report can be found here.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY