Session Results: Education remains a priority issue for lawmakers

Published 2:45 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

By Representative Daniel Elliott

When you want to know what someone values, you look at their checkbook. In the same way, our state’s budget provides an understanding of our values and how we meet our obligation to all Kentuckians. The laws enacted by the legislature also reflect what we believe is important. And, when you take into consideration both spending and policy, we clearly value education.

We spend more on education than any other area of government and this session we made every attempt to get funding to the level closest to students. The education investments included in the state budget (HB 6) represent the largest increase in funding since the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). Among the allocations made in the budget are:

  • An increase in SEEK funding by 3% in the first fiscal year, and 6% in the next fiscal year for a total of $612 more per pupil over the two-year period.
  • Funding to cover 90% of transportation costs in FY 25, and fully fund the costs in FY 26
  • Increased access to funding for districts with a limited ability to raise local revenue by increasing the Tier 1 equalization.
  • Increased General Fund monies by $4.8 million in each fiscal year for a Pilot Teacher Recruitment Student Loan Forgiveness Program
  • An additional $2.6 million over the biennium for the Teacher Scholarship Programs
  • $7.3 million in additional funds in each fiscal year for a new Student Teacher Stipend Program

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And, to be clear, the budget includes plenty of funding for teacher raises. Rather than mandate that districts give their employees a raise, the legislature has chosen to provide additional funding to give districts the resources they need to set salary increases. This is the second budget that we have used to do so, at the request of school superintendents and school boards across the state.

Mandating that districts provide a set raise is bad policy and irresponsible. After all, teachers and school staff work directly for districts – not the state. Can you imagine the state setting pay for any other independent government agency or group? Instead, we want to empower school districts to provide raises that they set based on their needs and local market.

We also provided support for teacher recruitment and retention, including a student loan forgiveness program and other scholarships.

In addition, HB 6 includes almost $2 billion towards the teacher’s retirement system, an amount far above what is required by law but what is necessary to shore the system up for current and future retirees. We also included $80 million for teacher’s retirement in HB 1.

  • HB 142 – Bans all tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor products in Kentucky public schools and requires school districts to adopt disciplinary procedures for violations. The measure also requires school districts to track incidents involving vaping and report them annually to the Department of Education.
  • HB 162 – Focuses on improving the teaching and comprehension of mathematics by increasing accountability, expanding training and support for teachers, as well as hands-on intervention for students. The measure also aligns postsecondary preparation for teacher candidates and establishes the Kentucky Numeracy Counts Funds to support teachers in local districts.
  • HB 446 – Addresses disciplinary issues on school buses by requiring a signed agreement between parents/guardians and school districts to outline behavioral expectations and consequences for misbehavior.
  • HB 611 – Ensures more accountability for chronic absenteeism by requiring school officials to file a complaint with the county attorney when a K-5 student misses 15 days of school without an excuse.
  • HB 695 – Establishes the Adaptive Kindergarten Readiness pilot project, aimed at increasing family involvement by delivering age-appropriate reading instruction with an online learning platform.
  • HB 825 – Requires the State Auditor’s Office to conduct an audit of fiscal controls and operational performance of the Kentucky Department of Education. This program review includes the Kentucky School for the Blind, Kentucky School for the Deaf, and the state-operated technology centers. The audit is due to the Interim Joint Committee on Education by July 1, 2025.
  • SB 2 – Expands existing school safety statutes to provide both greater physical security and broader mental health supports. The bill allows local school boards to hire armed “guardian” safety officers until a school resource officer is available. The measure also updates requirements regarding trauma-informed teams; expands existing suicide prevention training to employees who work with students in grades 4-12; and requires districts to provide an anonymous reporting tool for students and parents to supply information on potential threats.
  • SB 167 – Requires cursive writing to be included in elementary school curriculum and designed to ensure proficiency by the end of grade five. The requirement takes effect at the beginning of the 2025-2026 school year.

As always, I can be reached anytime through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at and keep track through the Kentucky legislature’s website at