Ky. school districts must cut administrative costs, commissioner says

02/22/2011 06:23 PM

Kentucky school districts — which have higher-than-average administrative costs in the country — are being asked to trim overhead costs to free up money that will be used to implement new learning standards and testing, said Kentucky’s education commissioner.

Terry Holliday, who has served as education commissioner since June 2009, said on Pure Politics Tuesday that he has asked the 174 Kentucky school district superintendents to “do more with less.” They are being asked to squeeze money through energy management and efficiencies, as well as looking at their personnel ranks, Holliday said.

“What I’m worried about quite often is sometimes paraprofessionals — teacher assistants — are very valuable … but are we sure we’ve got the right dollars in teaching because that’s the priority,” he said.

In addition to facing stagnant state funding, districts are being asked to help the department find the money to help toward teacher training of new standards and testing, as directed by the Kentucky legislature in 2009.

That year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which calls for a new set of learning goals that students should reach in order to graduate, as well as a state test to replace the CATS test.

Holliday said a crisis is looming because only 34% of current 8th graders are on track to be prepared to get a college degree. And by 2015 when they graduate, workforce and education estimates show 60% of jobs will require a college degree, Holliday said.

“We have a huge gap … so we’re going to continue with this cycle of high unemployment and the wrong types of jobs,” he said.

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- Ryan Alessi

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