April 18, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Courtney Daniel, Chief of Communications and External Affairs
courtney@prichardcommittee.org

Historic increase in education funding helps drive a ‘Big Bold Future’ for Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky — As the 2024 legislative session closes in Kentucky, the Prichard Committee announced that the Big Bold Ask achieved 79% of its mission, adding $812 million annually in education funding.

In 2019, the Prichard Committee unveiled a six-year plan, also known as the Big Bold Ask, to add more than $1 billion to the state’s education budget in strategic areas where the investment would have the greatest impact on the state’s education and economic outcomes. The Big Bold Ask aimed to reverse trends in declining state investments into public education by bolstering the early childhood, public K-12 and higher education sectors.

“The funding ask was a key component of Prichard’s work to create a Big Bold Future for the commonwealth. Investment in education at all levels pays dividends in economic growth and a higher quality of life for communities across the state where every Kentuckian can thrive,” said Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom. “We are grateful that the Legislature supports this vision and made great strides during the last five years in prioritizing education so we can build a Big Bold Future for all Kentuckians.”

To frame this work, Prichard identified 12 education and economic indicators that help compare Kentucky’s progress to other states, analyze trends over the years, see results for Kentuckians of varied backgrounds and ages, find cause for celebration and recognize areas of concern. Prichard is tracking progress and publishing these measures in a biannual Big Bold Future: National Rankings Report.

In the 2024 state general fund budget, investment in key elements of early childhood, public K-12 and higher education has increased by $812 million since 2020, which will bolster progress toward the Big Bold Future goals. See below for a breakdown on where Kentucky’s education dollars are being invested.

Early Childhood Education  

As the general fund budget stands, preschool funding has received no additional funding since 2020. The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) funding saw an increase of $47 million, or about 24% of what was requested in the Big Bold Ask.

Investment in high-quality early childhood education is critical for Kentucky’s economy to thrive today and in the future. The care provided by these programs also allows more parents to enter or remain in the workforce. According to a 2023 survey, 94% of Kentucky parents and 91% of Kentucky voters feel that Kentucky is not doing enough to increase child care access.

For more details on Early Childhood Funding in Kentucky, visit our blog.

Public K-12 Education 

All-day kindergarten was fully funded at levels requested in the Big Bold Ask. In another big bright spot, the Legislature passed and Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 695, the Adaptive Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Project. The legislation will establish an adaptive kindergarten readiness pilot project within the Kentucky Department of Education using curriculum that aligns with state standards and national guidelines to improve kindergarten readiness.

School transportation funding also meets levels from the Big Bold Ask; however, it is worth noting that transportation costs have increased significantly in the five years since the Big Bold Ask was written.

Teaching quality efforts included funding for the Read to Succeed Initiative and for added stipends to teachers who earn National Board certification. There is no funding in the budget to rebuild funding for professional development, a key part of the teacher quality portion of Big Bold Ask. However, the Legislature passed House Bill 162, known as the Numeracy Counts Act, which provides for research-based approaches for improvements to K-3 mathematics instruction, teacher preparation, professional development and parent engagement.

Higher Education

Public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System funding in the budget meets and exceeds the Ask, as do College Assistance Program grants. Kentucky’s college enrollment rate is on the rise, and this added investment will help more Kentucky students get the postsecondary credential they need to succeed in today’s economy.

The Legislature also addressed career and technical education needs with House Bill 499 that aims to provide a fairer allocation of funds between state and locally managed Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The bill was sent to the governor’s desk on Monday.

Additionally, they enacted postsecondary performance-based funding reforms via Senate Bill 191, which includes nontraditional age students in funding calculations to close the achievement gaps at the postsecondary level, adjusts funding percentages for public universities based on student success outcomes and more closely aligns credentialing with economic needs.

“We envision a Big Bold Future where every Kentuckian thrives, contributing to and benefiting from the state’s growing economy. This future is built on jobs that not only pay a family-sustaining wage but also offer opportunities to create wealth and success for generations.” Blom said. “Central to this vision is our commitment to an education system that starts strong with quality early childhood programs, continues with world-class K-12 schooling, and culminates in high-quality, marketable degrees and credentials. Together, these elements prepare Kentuckians not just to fill jobs, but to be the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Let’s keep pushing the boundaries to make this Big Bold Future a reality for all Kentuckians.”

The next Big Bold Future report will be released in November this year.

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The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky – early childhood through postsecondary.

Author

Since 1983, the Prichard Committee has worked to study priority issues, inform the public and policy makers about best practices and engage citizens, business leaders, families, students, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states for education excellence and equity for all children, from their earliest years through postsecondary education.

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