Stivers says some schools need more money, education chief needs more powers, colleges need accountability

12/19/2013 01:19 PM

Kentucky should increase accountability for schools and universities along with funds in 2014, said Senate President Robert Stivers.

That includes looking increasing certain powers of the education commissioner — currently Terry Holliday — to keep a closer watch on how districts use state resources.

Stivers said he would look at “giving him potentially more pressure on the school systems.

“We may want to up the criteria and the sanctions if they don’t meet certain guidelines and give him the authority to do what he … deems necessary to bring these schools up,” Stivers said at 4:30. “We may want to give him more auditing tools.”

Stivers offers his assessment of the job Holliday has been doing at 5:00 of the interview segment.

Lawmakers have avoided making cuts to the SEEK formula, which is how school funding is divvied up to districts. But because enrollment in Kentucky schools has increased, it’s amounted to a cut in per-pupil funding over the last five years.

Education funding should be a top priority in the next budget, but Stivers said lawmakers should first examine the finances of the 173 school districts and how they spend state funds.

“There are certain needs,” Stivers told Pure Politics in an interview this week. “… But why aren’t we talking about how to use the money as much as how much money is being used?”

Stivers suggested taking a stronger look at charter schools, for instance.

Like K-12 education, Kentucky colleges and universities should be held accountable to make sure they’re graduating the type of trained workers that businesses need.

He said he has appreciated the work the eight public universities have done as state funding has shrunk over the last five years to 2005-06 levels for most of the universities.

“But I’m going to be very critical about why do you have 150 elementary education teachers when there’s only a demand for 20. But then you come in and hear the Microsofts of the world or an Apples of the world or the entities that need computer programming say that we’re 10,000 short for Kentucky,” he said.

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