House committee approves bill to deal with low-achieving schools: State officials would get several new options to deal with persistently low-achieving schools — including shuttering the worst — under a proposal approved Thursday by the state House Education Committee. State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he hopes House Bill 176, which contains an emergency declaration that would allow it to take effect almost immediately, will sail through the legislature and that Gov. Steve Beshear will sign it into law next Friday. He said the measure is essential to Kentucky’s application for federal Race to the Top funding, which must be filed by Jan. 19. (Bluegrass politics)
Beshear’s speech included few details: Local leaders say they’re anxious to see the specifics of Gov. Steve Beshear’s budget in the wake of his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday, which included few details. Beshear pledged to create and retain jobs, provide assistance to families and make government more efficient...Beshear said he plans to introduce next week new efficiency measures to cut costs in state government. He also emphasized that government is leaner and more efficient four times during his 35-minute speech. Spending has been cut by $900 million, and the state work force has shrunk by 1,600 since Beshear took office. (State Journal by way of KSBA)
Leaders temper Beshear optimism - Richards complimentary of governor’s speech, but critics want more specifics: Touting four goals to survive the recession, Gov. Steve Beshear told lawmakers Wednesday that the state needs to move forward.“I refuse to use this recession as an excuse not to move forward,” Beshear said.Creating and maintaining jobs, streamlining government, supporting families and ridding the state of systemic problems that hinder progress were those four goals.Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said the governor’s speech was well-crafted.“It was very specific in terms of what his goals are,” Richards said. “I thought it was as specific as it could be given that in two weeks he will give the budget address with more financial statistics.”Sen. Mike Reynolds, D-Bowling Green, said he thought the speech was as upbeat as it could have been.Beshear said he wants to remove some of the blocks to increasing the state’s educational attainment levels, one by raising the legal dropout age from 16 to 18 and another by simplifying the transfer of community college credits to four-year universities. (BG Daily News)
Danville school officials reach settlement; charges to be dropped: Misdemeanor charges against two members of the Danville Independent school board will be dismissed in six months as the result of a settlement reached Wednesday in Boyle District Court. Julie Erwin and Lonnie Harp each were charged by the state attorney general's in September with a misdemeanor count of engaging in prohibited political activities. The two board members were charged after they "very innocently" sent an e-mail to about 120 people announcing their candidacies for school board, said defense attorney Ephraim Helton. The list included about 20 or so teachers in the Danville district, Helton said. (H-L)
UK is part of national push for more math and science teachers: Amid a growing national awareness of the need for more math and science teachers, the University of Kentucky promised to triple the number of educators it produces in those fields over the next five years.
UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. delivered the pledge Wednesday to President Barack Obama as Obama announced new efforts in science, math and technology education. "We must admit, we are now being outpaced by our competitors," Obama said, adding that the United States ranks 21st in science education and 25th in math globally. "That's not acceptable." Todd said he spoke briefly with Obama when delivering a letter in which leaders of 121 public universities pledged to increase the number of new math and science teachers to 10,000 from 7,500 by 2015. (H-L)
State pension pledge may fall through: Legislators may find it difficult to honor a pledge to fully fund the state pension plan in the face of a $1.2 billion budget deficit. In 2008, lawmakers agreed to pay the required pension payments by gradually increasing contributions during the next 25 years. But Lee Jackson, president of the Kentucky Association of Employees, said he’s not optimistic the promise will be fulfilled this year. In discussions with legislators, they haven’t made any firm commitments to increase pension contributions, he said. However, employees made concessions by agreeing to allow new workers to work longer before retiring and earn a smaller pension, Jackson said. The Kentucky Retirement Systems has 333,000 members and $11.9 billion in assets. It also faces an unfunded liability of $16.6 billion and could run out of money by 2015. (State Journal by way of KSBA)
Motion accuses officials of decades-long vote-buying scheme: A former circuit judge and a former school superintendent helped fix election for decades in a southeastern Kentucky county known for poverty and drug dealing, a federal prosecutor alleges. R. Cletus Maricle, a longtime judge, and former school Superintendent Douglas C. Adams began working with drug dealers more than 20 years ago to buy votes and control local politics in Clay County, according to a court motion filed this week. (Herald-Leader)