Saturday, March 26, 2011

School News from Around Kentucky

House accepts Senate Medicaid bill, with pledge by Beshear to veto some provisions: In a surprise maneuver, the House Thursday night approved the Senate version of a bill to resolve the state's Medicaid budget shortfall — part of a strategy to get the bill to Gov. Steve Beshear so he can veto provisions he and the House deem unacceptable. The move would allow Beshear to delete cuts to education funding and other changes made by the Senate, leaving only the language from his original proposal that shifts state money into this year's Medicaid budget. (Courier-Journal)

New York firm gets contract to create online “improvement platform” for Kentucky teachers: The Kentucky Department of Education has inked a nearly $5.5 million, three-year contract with a New York technology firm to create a “one-stop shop” to help teachers incorporate new common core standards in their classrooms, and eventually give them instant access to tools to improve their teaching skills. The contract with Schoolnet, Inc. is slated to release its first product – the basics on teaching the new standards in English/language arts and math – by the end of next month. New resources for teachers are to be phased in this summer and fall and throughout 2012 and 2013. The contract, which includes ongoing support to KDE, runs through December 2014. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said CIITS – Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System – originally was part of Kentucky’s bid for federal Race to the Top funding. (KSBA)

Arson forces closure of school: An early morning fire Thursday at Horse Branch Elementary School in Ohio County appears to be arson, according to Sheriff David Thompson. The fire, which was reported by a neighbor at about 3:10 a.m., destroyed several outbuildings and caused damage to the school at 11980 U.S. 62 East. Thompson said a nearby fire, which occurred at the same time as the fire at the school, is also being investigated and may be related to the school arson.
But some residents are speculating that the fire had something to do with a meeting Thursday night where the school's future was discussed. (Messenger-Inquirer by way of KSBA and WFIE)

Frayser 2nd grader injured in bathroom incident: There are still a lot of questions about what happened inside a bathroom at a JCPS elementary school where a student was seriously hurt. Frayser Elementary parents say the second grader was found hanging from a hook in the bathroom by his shirt. JCPS District spokeswoman Lauren Roberts' allusion to the student's "medical issue" completely failed to satisfy parents seeking answers to why a second grade boy was found unconscious and hanging from a bathroom stall. "Something's not making no sense. The boy didn't do it himself I don't think," one parent said. (WAVE)

Ongoing feud at two JCPS schools alarms neighborhood: Police made their presence known Thursday at Western High School after several incidents over the past week.Police arrested a 17-year-old student earlier in the week for wanton endangerment and terroristic threatening. They say she was texting kids in the Victory Park neighborhood who then showed up across the street from Western. Later, police say shots were fired nearby. Then Wednesday, five students from Iroquois High School showed up outside Western. Four of them were charged with loitering and menacing. Thursday, a fifth student was arrested. Authorities say the 14-year-old had a pellet gun. (WHAS)

Lincoln County 6th Grade Center principal suspended: Acting Superintendent Karen Hatter confirmed that Jimmy Dyehouse had indeed been suspended with pay from his post the preceding Friday pending an investigation over an altercation between Dyehouse and a teacher at the school. Hatter said that she and Pam Hart, a former Lincoln County Middle School principal, are conducting the investigation into the altercation between Dyehouse and the teacher and hoped to have it concluded very soon. Hatter also denied some of the wilder allegations that the altercation took place in front of students and that she had escorted Dyehouse from the building last week. She said, that between classes, Dyehouse had entered a classroom and when a verbal conflict arose between the principal and the teacher, the teacher asked for some other teachers to be present to witness their conversation. Dyehouse was contacted for this story, but declined to comment on the advice of his lawyer. (Central Kentucky News)

Kenton Co. recognizes Hanner's efforts: On the eve of his retirement, Tim Hanner, the long-time educator praised as "a student-oriented superintendent" by former Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud, has been honored by Kenton County officials. Kenton County Commissioner Jon Draud, who previously served as Kentucky's education commissioner, quipped that he once tried to lure Hanner away from the Kenton County School District to serve as his associate commissioner, but was unsuccessful. Hanner's honors include being named 2010 Kentucky Superintendent of the Year. He also led a district that implemented the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics campus featuring the latest green infrastructure technologies. He started Hanner's Heroes, the Superintendent Advisory Board and the Student Advisory Program, and expanded the school system's gifted and talented programs. Last month, Hanner, 50, announced that he's retiring as superintendent on June 30 to devote his full attention to his health. Just before he was offered the superintendent's job in 2006, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. (

Bullitt Advanced-study program popular, growing: An advanced math and science program that began last fall as a bit of an experiment has proved to be more than what Bullitt County school leaders expected. BAMS is designed to allow students, starting at the beginning of their freshman year, to earn their high school diplomas and up to about 60 hours of college credit in four years. While students were initially going to attend classes at Jefferson Community & Technical College at the end of their second year, they likely will also have the option of attending classes at the University of Louisville, said Kelly Cleavinger, the teacher who leads the program. (C-J)

Spencer Schools may cut SBDM funding to keep teachers: Site-based decision making councils at each of Spencer County’s schools could soon be facing cuts in the interest of preserving teacher positions.At the February board of education meeting, Superintendent Chuck Adams and board members had preliminary discussions about the district’s 2011-2012 staffing formula. The formula dictates the number of teachers allocated to each of the district’s five schools.Currently the district employs 419 classified and certified staff. Adams is opposed to the possibility of cutting teachers’ positions and recommended instead to decrease the per-child amount allotted to each school from $135 per child to $110. Kentucky House Bill 1 requires that school boards allot a minimum of $100 per student. Adams estimated the measure could return more than $62,000 in discretionary funds to the school board. He said if the funding was not needed for staffing, it could be returned to the SBDM councils later. (Spencer Magnet)

Board votes to appeal decision by commissioner: The dispute between local school districts over non-resident students remains unresolved as the Harlan Independent Board of Education has voted to appeal a recent decision by the Commissioner of Education to the State Board of Secondary Education.The city board met with approximately 100 parents and employees of the district at a special meeting Monday evening to discuss the situation and take questions before opting to take the issue to the state board for review. Nearly two weeks ago, Commissioner Terry Holliday ruled that for the 2011-12 school year the city and county districts should accept a largely status quo arrangement regarding students who live within one district’s boundaries but attend school in the other. (Harlan Daily Enterprise)

Ready or not, new state education standards are coming to classrooms: In a little more than five months, Kentucky schools must be ready to start teaching new, tougher common core content standards detailing what students should learn in math and English language arts...Not surprisingly, it's a stressful time for Kentucky educators as they prepare for such sweeping changes. Money could be an issue. The Kentucky Department of Education hoped to win millions in federal grant dollars to finance standards implementation, but that money never materialized. Instead, education officials plan to fund preparation this fiscal year with about $40 million reallocated from the regular state education budget. State Education Department spokeswoman Lisa Gross insisted that the department isn't "skimping" on preparation, but she said it is having to "take longer to do the things we want to do." Educators are so concerned that a few weeks ago some lobbied state lawmakers to delay the entire implementation process...But Kentucky Education Association president Sharron Oxendine contended that preparations in school districts across the state are "spotty at best." The state has provided "no new money" for preparation, she said. "I know some districts are moving ahead ... but not a lot of conversation has taken place so far in a lot of districts," Oxendine said. "I talked with a math teacher who was given a copy of the new math standards the day school started and told to go teach them. She wasn't given any professional development, no resources, nothing." (Herald-Leader)

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