Governor Unveils Investment in Education

On Jan. 10, 2022, Gov. Andy Beshear outlined his budget plan to make a record $2 billion investment in pre-K12 education to create a world-class education system across the commonwealth, the single largest investment in this sector in state history.

The Governor added that the state’s recent record-breaking economic growth, with more than $11.2 billion in new investments and 18,000 new full-time jobs added in 2021 alone, proves Kentucky is a destination for leading global companies like Ford, Toyota, GE Appliances, and Amazon.

“We must meet this moment by ensuring we have a world-class education system to support our future workforce,” Gov. Beshear said. “Perhaps the most important step in ensuring we are never a flyover state ever again is investing in our teachers, schools, and students. We are the destination, but to stay a world-class destination for world-class companies, we must have a world-class workforce. And that starts with education.”

In his budget, at every level, from pre-K to postsecondary education, the Governor is making game-changing investments that will turn two years of economic progress into 20 years of economic prosperity.

Pre-K12 EducationThe Governor’s budget starts with investments in the commonwealth’s youngest learners, providing universal preschool for all 4-year-olds and full-day kindergarten for every Kentucky child for the first time ever.

Gov. Beshear said, “No longer will tens of thousands of our children be left out of preschool or head start programs that we know provide positive outcomes on children’s early literacy and mathematics skills and foster long-term educational success.”

The historic investment starts with a 16.9% increase in SEEK funding. It has been more than 30 years since this type of investment has been made. The Governor is dedicating $11 million each year to provide statewide learning focusing on literacy and mathematical ability and to implement a regional coaching program. He is providing a 12.5% increase in the SEEK base per-pupil funding formula for elementary and secondary schools. This budget also fully funds school districts’ costs for student transportation, with $175 million annually, which is an 81% increase in funding.

“What this means, is our schools won’t have to bear this cost, freeing up funds for other needs, like hiring a school nurse to help keep students healthy throughout this pandemic,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Governor’s budget provides $22.9 million each year to restore funding for professional development as well as textbooks and instructional resources.

“This is basic: Our children cannot learn if they do not have the resources to do so,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Governor added that a great education system requires more than learning resources and said, “We cannot ignore the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students.” He noted Lt. Gov. Colemans efforts this past year traveling to schools to talk firsthand with students about their mental health needs. The Governor’s budget provides $6.2 million each year to address this by assembling statewide staff and eight regional Social Emotional Learning institutes so that our educators have access to training on how best to help our students with their mental health.

The Governor is providing two new grant programs for school districts to provide wrap-around services to students impacted by violence, substance abuse, child abuse, and parental incarceration, and other training and resources to help students.

Career and Technical ducation

The Governor said career and technical education centers are a critical component of high school curricula, helping meet the needs of students in academic achievement, career exploration, career preparation, and leadership development.

To support Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, Gov. Beshear is providing $97.4 million this year to support the renovation of 11 local CTE centers that were not funded last year through the Better Kentucky Plan. The CTE centers still in need are in the following school districts: Boyd, Carter, Edmonson, Fleming, Grayson, Lewis, Livingston, McCreary, Marshall, Nelson and Union counties.

Also included is an additional $75 million for a new round of applications to renovate more CTE centers and an additional $8 million each year provides funding to 12 locally operated CTE centers that have not been part of the formula funding in the last 12 years due to lack of funding. They include centers in the following school districts: Ashland Independent, Bardstown Independent, Boone, Boyle, Hardin, Hopkins, Hart, Laurel, Oldham, Spencer, Washington, and Whitley counties.

Additional funding is provided for state-operated area technical schools in the amount of $3.2 million in fiscal year 2023 and $3.6 million in fiscal year 2024.

The Governor is also supporting schools chosen by the U.S. Department of Education that need additional leadership, literacy, and numeracy support by providing $14.4 million each year to support all schools identified.

Gov. Beshears’s budget also restores a longstanding library grant program that has been eliminated, with $2.5 million annually for grants to local libraries.

Teacher Pay and BenefitsGov. Beshear said it was past time to pay those educating our children what they are worth. He is proposing a minimum 5% salary increase for all school personnel. That’s in addition to the regular salary schedule increases for certified staff.

This is the first identified pay increase in a state budget since the 2006-08 budget.

According to the National Educational Association, Kentucky ranks 42nd in the nation for starting salaries, with new teachers averaging about $37,000 per year.

The Governors’s budget goes further by providing $26.3 million each year for a student loan forgiveness program that will provide a maximum $3,000 annual award for each year of employment in a public school as a teacher.

“Our teachers continue obtaining higher education to advance in their careers and we want to encourage that. So let’s help them get there,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Governor is also fully funding teachers’ pension and medical benefits. And there will be no health insurance premium increases for school employees.

Gov. Beshear also included much-needed funding for Family Resource and Youth Service Centers, providing $6 million more each year to support the 874 Family Resource and Youth Services Centers in 1,200 schools that serve nearly 650,000 students and families.

Student leaders, education advocates, and educators across the state lauded the Governor’s plan.

Higher EducationIn addition to its $2 billion investment in Pre-K12 education, the Governor’s budget also provides the highest funding increase for higher education in decades with a nearly 12% increase. And it is needed from 2008 to 2020, about $250 million in General Fund support has been cut from the nine public postsecondary education institutions.

Past budget cuts have led to tuition increases and cutbacks, Gov. Beshear said. Restoring a significant share of past budget cuts will better position these institutions to graduate the world-class thinkers that our world-class companies and opportunities demand.

The Governor’s budget includes $60 million for the Bucks for Brains program to be matched dollar-for-dollar with private donations. Bucks for Brains helps the state support our world-class economy by aligning postsecondary education with emerging needs of business and industry, and there are many new and exciting businesses coming to Kentucky. These funds also help students prepare for employment and nurture an entrepreneurial climate.

Another top priority for postsecondary education is paying down the debt of deferred maintenance for nine postsecondary institutions.

“We can’t let our schools crumble,” said Gov. Beshear. “My budget includes $500 million from the General Fund, the first significant funding for this in 20 years.”

And the Governor is investing funds, including agency bonds as well as third-party donations, for new construction of 19 new university capital projects, which include:

Eastern Kentucky University constructing a new Model Laboratory School;

Morehead State University building a new science and engineering building;

Murray State University renovating classrooms and offices to support science and nursing curriculum;

Northern Kentucky University expanding Herrmann Natural Science Center;

University of Kentucky constructing a new health education building;

University of Louisville adding on to its Speed Engineering School;

Western Kentucky University constructing a new Gordon Ford College of Business; and

The Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) renovating and/or replacing buildings in Elizabethtown, Jefferson County, and Somerset.

The Governor is also helping our postsecondary education students in need by increasing the maximum award aid programs, the College Access Program (CAP), and the Kentucky Tuition Grant program.

Both of these programs have benefitted from the dedication and growth of Kentucky Lottery receipts in the past several years. By leveraging federal Pell Grant dollars, the CAP program now covers full-time tuition and fees at KCTCS and nearly covers the average tuition and fees at four-year institutions. With additional General Fund dollars the Governor is increasing the maximum CAP award to $3,100 and $3,300 in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, while continuing to fund all eligible applicants.

The Governor announced a new program the Better Kentucky Promise Scholarship which fills the gap between tuition and federal and other state aid for all new associate degree and certificate-seeking students at public universities and private, nonprofit Kentucky institutions.

What this means is we can fully cover the cost for approximately 6,000 additional students in the first year and 9,700 in the second year. Gov. Beshear said. We are removing another barrier to higher education for those students that want to go to school but could not afford it.

“Let’s get to work moving our state forward by creating a world-class education system,” Gov. Beshear said.

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