Kentucky education department will ask legislature for additional $349.4 million

The Kentucky Department of Education will ask the 2016 General Assembly for at least an additional $349.4 million over the two-year period from 2016 to 2018, officials said this week.

The education department this year is receiving about $4.1 billion from the state, said Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai.

The department is seeking $6 million more in each year of the biennium for districts in need of school improvement and turnaround, especially in persistently low-achieving schools.

Officials also want to continue to improve career and technical programs and are asking for $7.9 million additionally in each year of the biennium.

For statewide testing, including science and social studies assessments, the department is asking for $6 million more in fiscal year 2017 and $9 million in fiscal year 2018.

Officials are asking for an additional $80 million in each year for transportation.

Local district pupil transportation costs continue to increase annually, largely due to higher personnel and operating costs. The state provides an average reimbursement of about 59 percent of these costs to districts, with school districts paying the balance. The proposed increase in state funding would allow for full reimbursement of eligible local district pupil transportation costs by the state.

In an effort to increase kindergarten readiness, the education department is asking for an increase in the number of 4-year-olds served in public preschools, with an additional $73.3 million in each year of the biennium. The projected number of additional 4-year-olds served would be 15,653.

Department officials also are asking for $16.7 million in capital improvements, which include projects on the campuses of the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville and the Kentucky School for the Blind in Jefferson County.

State education officials say they hope to meet with Gov. Matt Bevin in the coming weeks about their proposals.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears