As Kentucky faces it’s most difficult budget yet, a new education coalition is calling for even more early education funding. The Kentucky Education Action Team is made up of well-know education associations, including the Kentucky Education Association and groups representing administratiors, teachers, parents and school boards and councils. In a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda today, they made a case for an increase in SEEK funding back to 2008 levels.
A common misconception is that education funding has been taken care of during the last few budget cycles, the group said. But with a growing student population, the state has misjudged the funding amounts for students the last few years and has also taken away funding for afterschool programs and textbooks.
The group also wants increases in funding for teacher training, after school programs and textbooks. For fiscal year 2012, the SEEK formula allocates $3,769 per student. In 2008, SEEK allocated $4,230 per student. Other programs have faced cuts of more than 50 percent from 2008 levels.
“Local school districts cannot continue to provide each students with the highest quality education opportunties when declines in our basic funding formula deprive them of the adequate resources necessary to do so,” says Lonnie Burgett, president of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
Gov. Steve Beshear made protecting those SEEK funds a part of his main re-election platform. But critics, including Senate President David Williams, who ran against Beshear this year, said Beshear shorted the formula last year.
KEAT’s funding projections seem to agree.
And while the governor readies his budget to be unveiled later this month, Stu Silberman of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellent says the state must increase funding for education and SEEK or risk unearthing that old saying about thanking God for Mississippi.
“And if we’re not careful we’re going to begin to regresss,” Silberman says. “So we’re calling upon our leaders to step up and do what’s right for our children.”