Monday, February 1, 2016

Financial Aid and Lottery Dollars in the Governor's Budget Proposal

| By Susan Perkins Weston | 

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) will be able to offer almost $251 million in FY 2017 financial aid if Governor Bevin's budget proposal become law. 

Here's a breakdown for the programs included in the KHEAA budget, with yellow shading for cuts and green shading for increases and a new workforce training and development program.
Counting the workforce proposal as a lottery funded effort, this plan honors the state law that calls for nearly all lottery dollars to flow to postsecondary education. 

However, that also means overriding the legal provision calling for the College Access Program and the Tuition Grant Program to receive 55 percent of those dollars.  Those two needs-based programs will receive $35 million less than promised in statute, with those dollars moved to the workforce initiative and to KEES scholarships awarded based on grades and test scores.  The chart below shows the available dollars and compares the statutory approach to the one the Governor proposes.
Source note: The dollar figures above reflect the 2016-18 Executive Budget released by the Office of State Budget DirectorKRS 154A.130 sets the rules for allocating lottery proceeds, with $3 million annually committed to literacy development and the rest divided between 45 percent to KEES and 55 percent to CAP and Tuition Grants.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Notes on Governor Bevin's P-12 Budget Recommendations

| By Susan Perkins Weston | 

Total state P-12 funding for FY 2017 will be essentially the same as the originally budgeted amount for the current year if Governor Bevin’s recommendations become law. The Governor’s General Fund proposal provides $4,093,226,500 for the Department of Education, while the bill signed two years ago by his predecessor provided $4,093,244,600. That’s a change of $18,100 and a decrease of 0.0004%, though rising costs probably mean the decline in buying power will be larger.

The more important shifts may be in how the money will be used. The budget proposal includes:

  • $12.3 million more for equalized facilities than the FY 2016 budget bill
  • $8.7 million more for local district health insurance
  • $8.3 million more for local district teachers' retirement match
  • $6.4 million more for Tier 1 equalization funding to school districts 
 
  • $0.6 million less for gifted and talented programs
  • $0.9 million less for education of state agency children
  • $1.5 million less for SEEK base funding
  • $1.5 million less for Read to Achieve grants
  • $1.5 million less for textbooks and other instructional resources
  • $2.3 million less for after school tutoring and other extended school services
  • $4.7 million less for family resource and youth services centers
  • $7.9 million less for preschool programs 

  •  $14.7 million less for the rest of the Department of Education’s work, including additional dollars the Department distributes to schools and districts.

Of course, that list also invites many questions.

How are career and technical education, professional development, and KETS funding for school technology addressed?
The Governor’s budget recommendation does not show those programs with separate line items the way legislative documents do. Instead, they’re included in a single figure that may include several programs, use some federal dollars, or cover some of the Department’s operating costs. The numbers that are shown look like they probably include moderate reductions, but the detail just isn’t available yet.

How can SEEK base funding be down if the base guarantee is unchanged?
Governor Bevin did indeed say that base guarantee be unchanged, staying at $3,981 per pupil. There is also agreement that Kentucky will have more pupils to fund. However, the state guarantee is paid by combining local revenue with state dollars: the state pays what districts don’t bring in with taxes designed to raise 30¢ per $100 in taxable property. When that local revenue is rising fast enough, the state share can go down even if the number of students is going up. As a result, the Governor can indeed propose to keep the same guarantee and spend less to cover it.

What will happen to P-12 funding in 2018?
Under the governor’s proposal, the second year of the budget will cut $9.3 million more from the Department’s share of the General Fund. Major elements of that change will be increases for health insurance, retirement, and facilities, and decreases for SEEK base funding and Tier 1 equalization.

Will there also be cuts for the current 2016 fiscal year?
The Governor has indeed proposed cuts to spending in the current year, even before a new budget can be approved. For gifted and talented, extended school services, FRYSCs, Read to Achieve, state agency children, textbooks, and preschool, those cuts seem to be half the amount shown above for next year—or about $11 million from current funding. The Kentucky School Boards Association is reporting that the total is about $18 million.

How will the Education Professional Standards Board and the School Facilities Construction Commission be funded?
Those two P-12 agencies have budgets separate from the Department’s funding. EPSB is slated to receive an increase of $415,900. SFCC has a recommended increase of $13 million for 2017 (and 2018 funding will be another $5 million higher than that). When combined with the added dollars for facilities equalization in the Department section of the budget, there’s clear evidence that investment in facilities is a priority in this proposal.

Where is the money for the pension shortfall?
The Governor’s proposal includes paying an additional $323.8 million toward that problem in 2017 and very nearly as much in 2018. The pension challenge is a huge factor in why the rest of the budget is so tight. It’s also an obligation that Kentucky simply must meet. That said, the big added payments into KTRS are not paying to educate current students. They’re late payments for work educators did in years past. They must be paid, but paying them does not add to what we can to do for the learners in Kentucky schools today and in the next two years.

Source note: This blog post compares the 2016-18 Executive Budget released by the Office of State Budget Director to 2014’s House Bill 235.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beneficial Returns to Public Investment in All Levels of Education (UK Research)

| by Perry Papka, Senior Policy Director |
Recent research published by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Kentucky highlights that public investment in all levels of education – early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary - yields significant beneficial returns to both students and society.  This information provides important data supporting continued strategic investment across the spectrum of the state’s public education system.

Early Childhood – Returns $5 for every $1 invested
Cost-benefit analyses conducted by the CBER in 2009 estimated that investment by Kentucky in expanded early childhood education would yield a return of $5 in public and private benefits for every $1 of public investment. The research also noted additional benefits beyond the financial return-on-investment such as: reduced need for special education, higher rates of educational attainment, reduction in health costs, reduction in the incidence of crime, and less demand for social welfare services.

With only 50% of Kentucky's children arriving in kindergarten ready for early success (see Figure 3 below), greater effort is needed to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed.  CBER’s research reinforces the fact that investments in high quality early childhood education and care programs for at-risk children is not only a solution for reducing achievement gaps and improving academic performance, but pays long-term dividends to society as a whole.  
 
Source: Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Progress and Next Steps for Early Childhood in Kentucky: Birth through Third Grade (January 2016)


K-12 – Kentucky Schools Perform Better than Expected Given Challenges Faced
Earlier this month, CBER released a new issue brief highlighting Kentucky’s progress in education over the last 25 years. The research shows that across twelve broad measures of educational attainment and achievement, Kentucky ranks the same or higher than 34 other states and lower than only 15 – a far cry from very near the bottom in 1990. 
Moreover, while acknowledging that work remains to reach the achievement goals Kentucky has set for students and schools, the data shows that Kentucky is one of only eight states (see map in Figure 2 below) whose academic performance – as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – for every $1,000 in per pupil investment is better than to be expected given other obstacles students face such as poor health, poverty, disabilities or parents with low educational attainment. 
The bottom line is that Kentucky’s schools are cost-effective in providing a strong return-on-investment given significant demographic challenges facing many Kentucky communities. 
Source: Childress, Michael. Kentucky’s Educational Performance & Points of Leverage (January 2016) Center for Business and Economic Research, University of Kentucky.

Postsecondary – Higher Education has Significant Pay-Off for Individuals and the State
In October of 2015, CBER released a series of seven issue briefs highlighting the dynamic effects of educational attainment on Kentucky’s economy. Noting concern that Kentucky’s postsecondary educational attainment is lower than the national average, the research examined the effects raising attainment levels to the national average across seven key outcomes: income/earnings, employment, state income taxes, Medicaid costs and participation, health, crime, and participation in the federal SSI and SNAP programs. 
Not surprisingly, the analysis found that greater educational attainment leads not only to better employment outcomes, higher earnings and more tax revenue, but also lower crime, less chronic disease, and lower demand for public service programs. While these positive outcomes might have been expected in the state’s urban centers, the research showed similar effects to education across rural regions of the Commonwealth as well (see figure 1 below).
Source: Bollinger, Chris. Education Pays Everywhere! (September 2015) Center for Business and Economic Research, University of Kentucky.

CBER’s findings also estimate that raising Kentucky’s educational attainment level to the national average would generate $903 million annually in new tax revenue and cost savings.  Specifically, the state would realize approximately $500 million in additional income tax receipts, $200 million in Medicaid cost savings, $200 million in other healthcare cost savings, and $3 million in crime-related cost savings. 
Conclusion
Kentucky’s long-term success in continuing progress in student achievement, ensuring a dynamic, talented workforce, and developing thriving communities will be made stronger through increased investment that recognizes our educational system as a seamless web of opportunity for all citizens. The recent findings by the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research reinforce this notion and offer important reminders that the smart money is on public investment in a high-quality educational system – from early childhood through postsecondary – which is certain to yield significant returns to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SB1 Summary with three clarifications

The PrichBlog summary of Senate Bill 1 has drawn many readers and a few incisive notes.  It's been especially helpful to hear about three elements of the original summary that may not have been precise enough, so we're offering a revised edition, with the changes explained below.  The original post has been updated with the changes clearly labeled, and a two-page PDF version with the changes is available for download.

STANDARDS/REVISION 1
The revised summary says:
• A recommendations committee of three state senators, three state representatives, and three others appointed by the governor will make “final recommendations for implementation to the Kentucky Board of Education” on standards changes. 
 • KBE will adopt changes to Kentucky’s academic standards.
The earlier wording struck at least one reader as implying that KBE would be legally required to adopt what the committee recommends. The bill wording does not include a requirement like that.

SOCIAL STUDIES AND READINESS ASSESSMENTS/REVISION 2
The revised summary has two sentences on assessments to be eliminated if SB 1 becomes law:
Social studies assessments will be dropped. Readiness tests for grades 8 and 10 will also be dropped.
The earlier wording left an uncertainty about the plans for social studies testing in grade 5. The bill calls for ending the grade 5 assessment, the grade 8 assessment, and the high school end-of-course test for U.S. History.

INTERVENTION SCHOOLS/REVISION 3
Senate Bill 1 calls for hiring to be done differently at "intervention schools," and the revised summary describes those changes this way:
At those schools, the superintendent will select the principal with school council input, and the vacancy provisions of KRS 160.380(1)(d) will not apply.*
In a footnote, the revision provides the exact wording of the statute that will not apply:
* KRS 160.380(1)(d) says: “ 'Vacancy' means any certified position opening created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member of a local school district, or a new position created in a local school district for which certification is required. However, if an employer-employee bargained contract contains procedures for filling certified position openings created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member, or creation of a new position for which certification is required, a vacancy shall not exist, unless certified positions remain open after compliance with those procedures.” 
The earlier wording attempted to explain how that change would affect schools, but there turn out to be multiple possible interpretations.  The revised version allows readers to see the language for themselves.

Special PrichBlog thanks to the readers who alerted us to these issue!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Prichard Committee Statement on Charter Schools

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence conducted extensive research on issues related to the creation of charter schools, producing a report in 2014 - Charter Schools: An Informational Guide. The Committee does not have an official position in support of, nor in opposition to, charter schools. However, if the Kentucky General Assembly considers charter enabling legislation, the Committee believes strongly that the law must have the clear goal of closing gaps in student achievement. In addition, as one of seven states in the nation without charter schools, Kentucky is in an excellent position to learn from the experiences of other states.

The following policy statement frames Kentucky’s education progress over the past 25 years, briefly reviews the research on charter school effectiveness, and outlines clear criteria for charter school legislation in Kentucky.

National Efforts to Improve Student Outcomes
Since 1991, 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing charter schools. Charter schools are intended to improve student outcomes by allowing for local autonomy, innovation and encouraging community engagement and support. In 1990, Kentucky chose an alternate path to those same objectives by implementing a governance model for all schools that requires school-based decision making councils to be comprised of parents and teachers.  Another common rationale for charter schools is that providing more choice or competition among schools will improve the quality of schools and increase student outcomes. Kentucky did not inject competition into its public school system as part of the 1990 reforms.  Rather, it set up an accountability system to increase the quality of all schools and it set up collaborative systems such as Family Resource Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs) to connect at-risk students and families with community supports in an effort to decrease barriers to learning. 

Since 1990, Kentucky has made significant progress in student achievement for all students.  On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Kentucky now ranks 8th across states in 4th grade reading, is above the national average in 8th grade reading, and is at the national average in 4th grade math.  Gains since the 1990’s place Kentucky in the top quarter of all states for positive growth in 4th and 8th grade reading and math.  

Despite these positive results, achievement gaps persist in Kentucky and across the nation for African-American and Hispanic students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families. In many cases, these gaps have widened over the past 25 years. States across the nation, including Kentucky, are seeking ways to reverse this trend, considering everything from rigorous standards, innovative teaching practices, community support services, and charter schools.

The most complete research evaluating outcomes of charter schools is from The Center for Research on Student Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The center has found the overall performance of charter schools to be mixed, with significant variance in whether charter schools actually improved overall reading and math. However, the research concludes that charters can be beneficial in urban settings with African- American and Hispanic students, students living in poverty, and English language learners.  When one or more of these designations was combined (i.e. African-American and poverty) the results were increasingly positive.

Policy Criteria for Charter Schools
As outlined by the Committee’s Informational Guide, there are eight key questions to ask regarding charter school policy – the answers to which should guide the development of any effective charter school legislation in Kentucky:

1.    What student results will charter schools be expected to deliver?
2.    Which public school requirements will be waived, and which will be required?
3.    How will students be admitted or assigned to charter schools?
4.    Who will authorize charter schools?
5.    Who will be able to apply to run a charter school?
6.    Will charter school numbers and enrollments be subject to caps?
7.    How will charter schools be closed if they do not deliver?
8.    What funding will charter schools receive?

Since its review of the charter school issue, the Committee has identified certain principles as vital to the continued success of public schools and assuring that charter school legislation maintains Kentucky’s commitment to student achievement and ending achievement gaps. These principles address key issues of accountability, authorization, enrollment and funding.

  • Charter schools should, at a minimum, be held to the same standards of expectation, accountability, performance, and data collection as required by Kentucky law of all other public schools. Further, charter schools may not be exempted from the same requirements of all other public schools regarding health, safety, civil rights, open meetings rules, open records requests, and sound financial and accounting practices.
  • Authorization of charter schools should be by local boards of education following rules established by the state Board of Education that define processes for creation, conversion, renewal, revocation, closure and dissolution. Training of local boards, provided by the Department of Education, on charter school regulations, procedures and oversight should be required prior to any authorization.  Authorization of charter schools should be allowable only in circumstances of persistently low-achieving schools and/or significant achievement gaps.
  • Charter schools may not discriminate in the enrollment of students in any fashion, including on the basis of ability, performance, geography, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, and also must provide free and reduced-price meals and full services for students with disabilities.
  •  Funding for charter schools should not diminish the resources currently available to school districts to educate and increase achievement for all students.  Any proposal must guarantee that schools and districts remain adequately and equitably funded according to Kentucky law as outlined in Rose v. Council for Better Education.


Excellence with Equity
Whether Kentucky enacts enabling legislation for charter schools, we must recognize that too many students are not achieving at high levels, putting their future at risk and keeping the state from creating and sustaining a dynamic, competitive workforce.  Policymakers, elected officials, educators, citizens and business leaders must come together to ensure Kentucky achieves excellence with equity for the education of all of its students.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When it comes to early childhood, we’ve come a long way and still have a ways to go

| by Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director |

The Prichard Committee convened a study group of nearly 50 early childhood experts, advocates and interested citizens to review Kentucky’s progress in early childhood and make recommendations for our future areas of focus. 

The study group’s report, Progress and Next Steps for Early Childhood in Kentucky: Birth Through Third Grade, identifies key areas of progress beginning with the unanimous passage of the KIDSNow legislation in 2000 which allocated 25 percent of Kentucky’s Master Tobacco Settlement funds to early childhood.  More recent areas of progress include: 1) creation of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, 2) development of a definition of kindergarten readiness, 3) adoption of a statewide kindergarten readiness screener, and 4) increased investments in public preschool, child care assistance and HANDS home visiting.

We’ve come a long way in our understanding of the importance of the early years and we still have a ways to go.  If all of Kentucky’s children are to arrive in kindergarten ready for early success and all of Kentucky’s 3rd graders are to realize proficiency in foundational subjects like math and reading, we need to recommit to using our resources wisely and increasing the quality of public programs. 
The study group developed a vision statement to guide its work.  It is a statement that resonates with everyone who has ever held the gaze of an eager and curious young child, witnessing their unbridled capacity and seemingly limitless potential. 

“All Kentucky children, birth to age 8, will have intellectually engaging, imaginative, and culturally responsive learning experiences that extend their curiosity and support social and emotional health and well-being. Developmentally appropriate early childhood experiences will immerse children in hands-on inquiry, sensory- and language-rich environments that support their potential to be creative and critical thinkers. As a result, all children will be well prepared for success in kindergarten and proficient in math and reading by the end of third grade.”

To achieve this vision, the study group identified five areas of focus going forward:
  •  Linking early childhood to third grade
  •  Community collaboration
  • Health and development
  • Family engagement
  •  Funding
This latest report builds on a 2007 report, Strong Start Kentucky: Investing in Quality Early Care and Education to Ensure Future Success, but extends the focus past kindergarten readiness to 3rd grade. 
We know significant gains can be made with the right supports in the early years and we want to ensure these gains are extended all the way through to 3rd grading reading and math proficiency.  

One way we do this is by ensuring quality throughout the system.  We need to invest in quality public preschool and quality child care for more of Kentucky’s children. To use our resources wisely, we need to encourage more public preschools to partner with quality child care centers to leverage current funding streams and provide the best environment for young children (Pre-K Collaboration in Kentucky: Maximizing Resources for Kindergarten Readiness).  We also need to ensure that best practices in health and development, beginning prenatally, are supported throughout Kentucky’s early childhood system and among its partners.  Finally, and the most critical of all, we need to do a better job engaging families.  As a child’s first and most influential teacher, families need to better understand early brain development and the simple things they can do to better support their early learner. 

Kentucky has a rich history supporting early childhood from birth through the early elementary years.  Our 4th grade math and reading scores provide some proof.  On the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), known as "the nation’s report card", Kentucky now ranks 8th in fourth grade reading and has the third best increase since 1992 of all states.  In fourth grade math, we are at the national average and have the 12th best increase of all states since 1998. 


It’s important that we stay the course with Kentucky’s early childhood investments, increase them as possible, and continue to increase the quality of our public programs.  Kentucky’s youngest learners deserve the best we can give them.  They, and the Commonwealth, will benefit as a result. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Senate Bill 1: State Standards and Much More [REVISED]

THIS POST HAS BEEN REVISED TO CLARIFY THREE ISSUES. THE CHANGES ARE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED IN THE TEXT. THE ATTACHED PDF VERSION HAS ALSO BEEN REVISED.
 
Senate Bill 1 has drawn headlines describing it as a call to repeal the Common Core State Standards. Filed Wednesday by Senate Education chair Mike Wilson and Senators Givens, Girdler, Seum, and Thayer,  the bill does include a process for standards revisions, but it also includes substantive changes to Kentucky assessments, accountability, graduation requirements, program reviews, school councils, and work on teacher growth and effectiveness. It's a big bill.

What follows is a systematic summary of SB 1's major changes.  The same information is available here as a downloadable two-page PDF, and the actual text of the bill can be downloaded here.

GOALS AND STANDARDS 
FOR WHAT STUDENTS KNOW AND CAN DO

ARTS CAPACITIES
In the list of seven capacities schools are expected to develop for all students, the final capacity will change from “Sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage” to “Sufficient grounding in the arts that: (a) Enables each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage; or (b) Is a result of an application experience in coursework that incorporates design content, techniques of creativity, and interpretation.”

STANDARDS
In 2017-18 (and at six year intervals after that), standards for language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies will be revised as follows:

• Educators and the public will comment on current standards through a website, with an independent third party collecting and transmitting those comments.

• Advisory panels will review the standards, assessments, and comments and recommend changes for their subject and grade level. Each panel will include six public school teachers and a representative of higher education chosen by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE).

• Review and development committees will recommend changes to standards and alignment of assessments for their entire subject. Review and development committees will include six public school teachers and two higher education representatives appointed by KBE.

• Educators and the public will comment on the recommendations through a website.

• House and Senate Education committees will review the recommendations.

[• A recommendations committee of three state senators, three state representatives, and three others appointed by the governor will make final recommendations.

• KBE will adopt the final standards.]

• A recommendations committee of three state senators, three state representatives, and three others appointed by the governor will make “final recommendations for implementation to the Kentucky Board of Education” on standards changes.

• KBE will adopt changes to Kentucky’s academic standards.

The bill does not address revisions to standards for arts & humanities and practical living/career studies.

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
Students will be able to meet the arts requirement with a “foreign language course, application-oriented career and technical education course, or a computer technology or programming course that incorporates design content, techniques of creativity, and interpretation.”

METHODS FOR CHECKING PROGRESS 
TOWARD MEETING GOALS AND STANDARDS

ASSESSMENTS
Language arts, mathematics, and science assessments will continue to be used, as will industry-recognized certifications/licensures/credentials.

A college admission and placement test of English, mathematics, science, and reading will be given in the fall of grade 9 and spring of grade 11, replacing fall of grade 11 use of the ACT.

Social studies assessments and readiness tests for grades 8 and 10 will be dropped. Social studies assessments will be dropped. Readiness tests for grades 8 and 10 will also be dropped.

Students with disabilities who need more than four years to complete high school will not be included in assessment after their fourth year.

Schools and districts will receive copies of each assessment, along with individual test item results for each student and school.

PROGRAM REVIEWS
Program reviews will no longer be required. The bill contains no provisions to check the quality of student learning opportunities in arts and humanities, practical living/vocational studies, sustained writing or world languages/global competence.

TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS
Local districts will have greater control of their professional growth and effectiveness systems. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will set a framework for district use but no longer gather data or conduct site visits. Student growth will not be part of the framework.

ACCOUNTABILITY STEPS TO ENSURE PROGRESS
TOWARD GOALS AND STANDARDS

ACCOUNTABILITY CLASSIFICATIONS
In classifying schools, the greatest weight will be given to schools’ growth over three years as compared to a band of schools. That band will be “a group of Kentucky schools at the same level that have similar student demographics, percentages of exceptional children and youth [as defined in state law], percentages of limited English proficiency students, and mobility rates.”

Weight will also be given to:

• Assessment results
• Progress toward English proficiency for limited English proficiency students
• Elementary and middle schools’ school climate and safety
• High schools’ graduation rates
• High schools’ postsecondary readiness results, including college admission and placement exams, industry-recognized certifications/licensures/credentials, postsecondary credits earned in high school, and data on graduates going on to postsecondary education will be added. Added credit will be given for postsecondary enrollment by low-income students and for industry certifications/licensures/credentials in high demand fields.
• Any other factors required by federal law.

Student growth scores, program reviews, and professional growth and effectiveness data will no longer be used for accountability.

FOCUS SCHOOLS
Focus schools will be schools with three years of graduation rates below 68% or three years of low performance by a student group (male/female students, students with/without disabilities, students with/without English proficiency, minority/nonminority students, and students eligible/not eligible free and reduced-price lunches). Focus schools will revise their school improvement plans with district assistance.

INITIAL INTERVENTION SCHOOLS
Initial intervention schools will be the lowest-performing twenty-five percent (25%) of schools at each level that fail to meet state accountability targets for three years. At those schools, the superintendent will select the principal with school council input, and collective bargaining rules will not apply to hiring decisions the vacancy provisions of KRS 160.380(1)(d) will not apply.*

* KRS 160.380(1)(d) says: “ ’Vacancy’ means any certified position opening created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member of a local school district, or a new position created in a local school district for which certification is required. However, if an employer-employee bargained contract contains procedures for filling certified position openings created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member, or creation of a new position for which certification is required, a vacancy shall not exist, unless certified positions remain open after compliance with those procedures.”

PRIORITY SCHOOLS
Priority schools will be schools with results in the lowest five percent at each level that fail to meet state accountability targets for three years.

An external audit team will analyze each priority school, reporting causes of low performance, assessment of on principal’s capacity and interaction with superintendent and central office, recommendations on turnaround process for school and recommendations on turnaround principles and strategies for superintendent. The local board of education will hire that team.

After the audit, each priority school will go through the following process:

• A turnaround team will be hired to provide training support. The local board will also hire that team based on bids by nonprofit external management organizations.

• An advisory leadership team representing staff and parents will be created.

• The school council’s powers will be transferred to the superintendent. If the school moves out of priority classification for two years, the local board may restore the council’s powers.

• The superintendent will be able to reassign the principal and other certified staff to comparable positions elsewhere in the district and to hire a new principal after consulting the turnaround team, parents, certified staff, and classified staff.

• The principal, working with the turnaround team and advisory leadership team, will propose short-term and five-year turn around plans. The plan will need approval from the superintendent, receive KDE review and recommendations, and get final approval from the local board.

A school does not leave priority status after four years will be subject to state-level based on KBE regulation, which may include new audit and planning provisions, school improvement funds, and support from highly skilled educators.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP TARGETS
Locally established gap reduction targets will be set for three-year periods (replacing the current targets set for one year at a time).

___________
* KRS 160.380(1)(d) says: “ ’Vacancy’ means any certified position opening created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member of a local school district, or a new position created in a local school district for which certification is required. However, if an employer-employee bargained contract contains procedures for filling certified position openings created by the resignation, dismissal, nonrenewal of contract, transfer, or death of a certified staff member, or creation of a new position for which certification is required, a vacancy shall not exist, unless certified positions remain open after compliance with those procedures.”