Gov. Beshear says tax reform could be the answer to Kentucky's 'F' in school spending
01/10/2013 04:57 PM
While Kentucky broke into the top 10 in the nation of Education Weekly’s annual quality rankings, the one area the state’s education system failed was school spending.
The rankings are based on a rubric of how well the states performed in student achievement, teacher performance, matching needs of the workforce and school funding.
Kentucky schools received a score of 53.4 in the school spending category, far behind the national average of 64.9. The commonwealth fared better in the sub-category of how well it spreads out the money to districts.
At a press conference to celebrate cracking the top 10 on Thursday, Governor Steve Beshear acknowledged that, while happy with the overall ranking, the commonwealth has a lot of work to do in the area of funding public education.
“When you look at per pupil spending, just 11.8 percent of our students are in districts whose funding matches or exceeds the national average,” he said.
The big question is: Where will the money come from?
State spending on K-12 has remained static for much of Beshear’s term, although schools technically saw a drop in per-pupil funding as enrollment rose but the spending did not.
A year ago today, Beshear announced the formation of a task force to look into ways to improve the tax code. That group suggested cutting income tax rates but spreading taxes to some new areas, such as certain services. The results, if passed by lawmakers, would bring the state coffers $660 million extra a year.
“I think we need to look at things like adequacy and decide if we need to get some money from some place in order to invest in education in these essential areas,” said Beshear, who has said he’s still reviewing the recommendations.
Another category where Kentucky lagged behind in the Education Weekly standings was Chance for Success where the state had a C+ score. That ranked of 38th out of 50 states.
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