Friday, April 9, 2010

SEEK funding already declining statewide, with next year's budget possibly cutting more

The Council for Better Education has just released a statement and a set of reports:

(OWENSBORO, Ky.) Kentucky schools received less money per pupil from the state’s main funding formula this year. Schools are getting $50 less per pupil in state SEEK funding for 2009-10 than they received the year before. Even with a $31 increase in average local funding, schools still have $19 less per student. The Council for Better Education (Council) finds the trend alarming and urges the General Assembly to restore SEEK funding in the new state budget.

SEEK is short for “Support Education Excellence in Kentucky,” the program that provides most of the dollars schools use to educate students from kindergarten through high school. SEEK includes both state and local dollars. The Council, which represents local districts in work on education quality and funding, released a new overview this week of SEEK trends from 2005-06 through 2009-10.

“In years past, we’ve seen meager increases in state SEEK, sometimes keeping up with inflation and sometimes not even doing that. This year is different. This year, state SEEK funding actually declined,” said Tom Shelton, the Daviess County school superintendent who serves as council president.

Factoring in inflation makes the problem even clearer. “If you adjust for rising costs, both state and local dollars lost buying power. Effectively, schools have $211 less per pupil to work with this year than they did last year,” Shelton pointed out.

Shelton sees these results as especially important in the last days of the General Assembly. “The state budget is being set right now. The House is talking about reducing the state share of SEEK funding again, and the Senate is talking about reducing it even more. That’s hard to understand. Our students need legislators to take a clear-eyed look at the harm that’s already been done, stop the SEEK cuts, and add the funding our schools need to equip all students for adult success.”

In addition to the statewide report, the Council has prepared overviews for each Kentucky school district, showing SEEK funding for the last five years both with and without inflation adjustments. The Council’s website,, offers easy access to the state and all the local versions of the two-page reports.

The Council for Better Education represents 168 of Kentucky’s 174 school districts in efforts to ensure full implementation of Kentucky’s constitutional commitment to our students and our common schools.

Disclosure: I'm deeply invested in this work as a consultant for CBE.

[UPDATE: This post originally did not include the copy of the report design.  I'm copying Richard Day's approach to showing how the document shares the data.]

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!