Kentucky Department of Education officials warn P-12 budget cuts will have adverse impact on Kentucky students

02/17/2016 03:43 PM

FRANKFORT – Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education said that Gov. Bevin’s proposed cuts to public education could stifle a lot of the progress that’s been seen in recent years in the state’s schools.

Like all state agencies, the Kentucky Department of Education saw their budget slashed 4.5 percent equaling $17,885,500 for FY 2016. Reductions of 9 percent in FY 2017 and FY 2018, would amount to $35,771,000 per year.

Items exempted from budget cuts in FY 2016 include SEEK general funds as well as local district health insurance.

Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt told legislators that he wants to do his best to see that the cuts affect, as little as possible, the students and teachers in the classroom.

“The first thing that we will go through as we look at all of these reductions, is to try to do our very best to limit any kind of impact directly in the classroom for teachers or others, such as resource officers that are affecting our kids,” Pruitt said.

Officials warned members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary/Secondary Education on Wednesday that reductions in the next biennium will not only result in a reduction of programs and services, but will impact local school district personnel as well as special programs including: reading and math achievement programs, community education, gifted and talented, pre-school teachers and aides, and resource officers, among other things.

Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent Jay Brewer, who has instituted an expanded pre-school program to get more kids kindergarten ready in his low income northern Kentucky community, said that cutting his budget 4.5 percent in the middle of FY 2016 could potentially have a crippling financial effect on his district and could potentially stifle the progress that has been made.

“Keep in mind I signed contracts with staff last May, now these cuts are coming,” Brewer said. “Keep in mind; I’ve already experienced a cut this year. I was cut $17,331 mid-year in a SEEK reduction.”

Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, agreed with Brewer that the mid-year cuts play havoc with school district superintendents around the state.

“I think we see how difficult it is this far along, in the school year, in the spending year, to make these kind of reductions,” Stone said.

Pruitt warned legislators that all of the progress that Kentucky’s schools have made over the years could be on the line if all of the proposed cuts are enacted. He pointed out that Kentucky’s per-pupil expenditure is already $1,260 less than the national average.

Since FY 2008, P-12 education in Kentucky has been cut 12.1 percent per student.
Since FY 2009, P-12 education has been reduced approximately $300 million over seven mandated cuts.

“I have to be honest here, the severity of cuts will impact our ability to offer equity and achievement to our children,” Pruitt said. “Kentucky has had this incredibly rich history, but at some point, diminishing returns will start.”

Committee chair Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, says that the proposed cuts to education will have a negative effect in the classroom, and says that she and the House will work to try to reduce some of the cuts which would negatively affect education in the state.

“We want to make sure that we continue to keep the classroom experience at a strong, growing level, and these cuts would impact that negatively,” Flood said.


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