The following op-ed was written by Dr. Jim Flynn, who is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
As Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS), I go to work every day determined to see that 640,000 students, in all of the Commonwealth’s 171 school districts, can be at their best in and outside the classroom. Making that dream a reality is all the more important, in light of the pandemic, unprecedented natural disasters and an economic crisis that has turned many of our students’ and their families’ lives upside down – not to mention forced countless businesses across the Commonwealth to close as a result.
So, I was pleased to hear recently that the Kentucky General Assembly shares my concerns and is focused on closing the gap in our state’s decades-long, chronically underfunded education system. The State House of Representatives took an important first step passing House Bill 1, and I want to applaud them for including full-day kindergarten, career and technical education funding and additional support for schools, teachers and faculty in House Bill 1.
The sun shines bright on Kentucky, but KASS knows that we can build an even brighter tomorrow by investing in the proven strategies of today. That is why I urge the Kentucky Senate to add three common sense, common ground reforms to House Bill 1. First, fully fund transportation so that students can safely get to school and focus on learning rather than worrying if and when they’ll get picked up by the school bus. Next, increase SEEK per-pupil funding, because we are investing less per student currently (indexed for inflation) than we did over three decades ago. Finally, give school districts more freedom by providing the much-needed resources to help superintendents, their boards and district teams ensure students, teachers, and staff members succeed at school, work, and in the community.
All of us want to see our students succeed academically, professionally and personally. House Bill 1 has the real potential to do precisely that and, at the same time, position the Commonwealth as a national leader in education once more. We just need the Kentucky General Assembly to pass House Bill 1 with the KASS-backed Kids First Kentucky priorities listed above to make it happen.
Our kids, families, businesses and communities big and small are counting on it.