After teaching high schoolers the ins and outs of government, history and economics for 27 years, state Rep. Derrick Graham has retired from Frankfort High School. Leaving his alma mater was a difficult decision, but Graham, 52, says he’ll be able to focus more on his increasing legislative duties as well as visit family who’ve moved away.
By Ivy Brashear, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Meaghan Dunn is a pretty typical high school senior. She plays intramural soccer, is preparing for college and even gets the occasional bout of laziness known as senioritis. But one visit with her in the microbiology lab on the campus of Western Kentucky University, where she’s studying bacteria, reveals she’s more than an average senior.
Some full-time University of Kentucky lecturers have received notice that they will be laid off at the end of the next school year, but officials say the cost-cutting move is a "contingency plan." Regulations require lecturers to get 12 months' notice that their jobs will end, so some deans have chosen to send letters that tell lecturers their contracts will end next spring, Assistant Provost Richard Greissman said.
Education Week’s annual report,Diploma’s Count, shows while Kentucky has made significant improvements in the number of students graduating over a ten-year period, the commonwealth still falls behind the national average. The big news announced this week: between 1999 and 2009 the graduation rate rose to 73.4 percent, which is the highest it has been since the late 1970s, according to the report.
The 7th annual conference of the International Town and Gown Association, took place at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky June 4 though 8, 2012. On June 6th, a group of about 20 attended a breakfast session for mayors, university presidents, city managers and other campus and municipal officials.
The majority of the state's public universities are not following the University of Kentucky's lead in laying off a large number of employees to balance the budget. UK announced this week that 140 employees will be laid off and 160 unfilled positions will be eliminated. But other public universities like Murray State, Eastern and Western Kentucky aren’t doing the same. Those schools are using hiring and pay freezes to deal with budget cuts from the state.
The Council on Postsecondary Education and the state’s public colleges and universities have launched KnowHow2Transfer.org, a statewide transfer website that provides Kentucky Community and Technical College students with a clear roadmap to transfer planning.
The University of Kentucky will lay off about 140 people in full and part-time positions across campus, losing roughly 1 percent of its workforce in the most severe budget cuts the flagship school has seen in recent memory. UK Spokesman Jay Blanton said another 120 vacant full-time staff positions and 44 vacant faculty positions will be eliminated, but no faculty will lose their jobs.
In college towns, locals are often in conflict with school officials and students. An organization dedicated to eliminating such conflict holds its annual conference this week at Eastern Kentucky University. Kim Griffo, who’s executive director of the International Town and Gown Association, sees a lot of friction between students and their neighbors.
Kentucky’s Council on Post Secondary Education will launch a website this week to help students who are transferring from community and technical colleges to four-year universities. “They would start at community colleges and then a good deal of their course work would not transfer toward the degree," said Rep. Carl Rollins, D-56. The called “Know How 2 Transfer” is a result of 2010 legislation, HB 160, sponsored by Rollins. The law creates better consistency among general education courses in community and technical colleges.
Two key components to a healthy lifestyle can be found in what we eat and how we exercise. The “eating” part of that formula is an issue at least three times a day. Vegetarian cooking has long been regarded as a step in the right direction. In some cultures, such culinary thinking goes back thousands of years. Suhasina Bhapkar and her assistant work under a mirror as they prepare a meal at the Fayette County Extension office… “A little, that’s a potato..add some mustard seed….it’s called peppery..in hindi..it’s called durkah,” said Bhapkar.
The finance and budget committee of Western Kentucky University’s Board of Regents had a special meeting Friday, when it approved a 2012-13 operating budget that includes a 4.8 percent tuition increase. Pending approval by the full board at the June 22 meeting, the university will have a total operating budget of $388,597,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year. That’s an increase of about $3.5 million, or 0.9 percent, from the current year’s budget.
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has contracted with a private company to implement a kindergarten screener program, but the state still needs to approve the regulatory to require all public schools to screen incoming students. If approved this summer, the screening would help teachers determine how prepared students are before entering school by assessing their skills on a group or individual basis.
What began as a school project has turned into a campaign for 12-year-old Noah Jones to make sure no foster child in Kentucky is made to feel like they, or their things, are trash. Noah, of Bowling Green, is home-schooled. About two years ago, he was given an assignment to come up with a project to improve his community. He decided he wanted to collect bags and backpacks for children in foster care so they have something in which to carry their belongings when they are removed from their homes. He called his organization A Case For Dignity. It was started in August 2010.
Later this year, a new task force that includes lawmakers, educators and athletic officials will study the lack of regulation of middle school sports and offer recommendations for the 2013 General Assembly. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association oversees high school athletics, including coach education, health and safety rules, and regulations over play. But there is no such oversight for middle school sports.
Thanks to last winter's mild weather and few snow days, many Kentucky schools are closing in May for the first time in years. It's quite a change from last year, when making up seven snow days kept Fayette schools open until June 3. It also that means students, parents and teachers can look forward to almost three full months of freedom.
It’s a balancing act for teachers and parents of school children. There’s the need for in class instruction, while allowing them to blow off some steam at the end of the school year. A clear spring day found hundreds of students playing games in Lexington’s Woodland Park. The annual fun day included singing in Spanish and amounts to a three hour recess from classes at Lexington’s Maxwell Elementary. Tom Davis, who’s Maxwell’s Physical Education teacher, is retiring after 31 years at the downtown school. Davis says the kids crave exercise
Franklin County Public Schools has a new superintendent after the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to hire local educator Chrissy Jones for the district’s top leadership role. “I’m just really going to get in there and get my nose to the grindstone,” she said after the official announcement, attended by Franklin County principals, teachers and Jones’ friends and family, who applauded and gave her a standing ovation.
A proposal to use coal severance tax dollars for college scholarships might have failed during the General Assembly earlier this year, but the idea is far from dead. Two proposals are vying for Gov. Steve Beshear's approval through the Department for Local Government, which distributes grants funded by coal severance money.
FRANKFORT – Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson joined state energy and education leaders this week to recognize 12 Kentucky schools for their efforts to lower energy costs by improving efficiencies in their buildings. Each school earned an “ENERGY STAR” designation, part of a federal program that identifies education institutions that are among the top 5 percent in the nation for energy efficiency.
The nation's top public high school is in Kentucky, according to rankings released Sunday by Newsweek magazine. The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential high school on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, topped Newsweek's list of America's Best High Schools. The school, which opened in 2007 and is funded by the state, ranked fifth in Newsweek's 2011 list.
Kentucky’s public and independent colleges and universities conferred a record 63,000 degrees and credentials during the 2011‐12 academic year, representing an overall increase of 4 percent over last year. The report shows the largest one‐year increase was at the associate level with substantial increases in all sectors. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System led with an estimated 9,503 associate degrees, an increase of 20 percent or 1,600 degree earners from just one year ago.
UK Music Students and their instructors have been ushered into the digital age with some new equipment introduced this week. The University of Kentucky School of Music is the proud owner of some 18 new, state of the art Yamaha Disklavier pianos. The instruments contain on-board computers that record, playback, and store musical arrangements. They were dedicated and demonstrated at the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center on Monday. Vocal Major Rebecca Farley sang a selection from Phantom of the Opera accompanied by, in essence, a phantom piano player.
The Kentucky Board of Education is resubmitting changes to the way students with learning disabilities take reading comprehension tests. Last year, the board approved a regulatory change that would prevent certain students from having teachers read them portions of reading comprehension tests. Now, the state is allowing some students in special circumstances to bypass that regulation.
The University of Louisville Board of Trustees approved the 2012-2013 budget Thursday, including a 6 percent tuition increase for students. The state cut higher education by 6.4 percent in its final budget, which is about $9.7 million for U of L. The $482.6 million general fund budget approved by the board covers the university’s primary operations, including salaries and it includes tuition increases for students and funding cuts to departments totaling $6 million.
Kentucky’s 8th grade science scores in the latest national assessment exceed that of the nation’s average, but the state made less progress overall. “The average scale score for our 8th graders in science is six points above the national average,” said Lisa Gross, spokeswomen for the Kentucky Department of Education.
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved a 6 percent tuition increase for the upcoming academic year on Tuesday, bringing the total cost of tuition, fees and housing for in-state undergraduates to $16,518 a year. The increase got push-back from some trustees, who said they worry about the long-term escalation of tuition costs and its effects on Kentucky families. In the past 10 years, UK tuition has increased 147 percent.
As the University of Kentucky deals with a 6.4 % budget cut for the upcoming fiscal year, a steering committee is looking at different models for developing a spending plan. Like many colleges and universities, UK has an incremental budgeting model. The current fiscal plan is used as a base, with the budget adjusted up or down from year to year. That model depends on stable funding, which hasn’t been the case for Kentucky.
Georgetown College will formally apply to become a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II member following unanimous approval by the Board of Trustees Saturday. The decision is another step in an 18-month process and includes a 100-page report compiled by Collegiate Consulting that explored Georgetown College’s options of staying in the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA), moving to NCAA Division 3 or NCAA Division 2.