Kentucky teachers hoping retention and funding are addressed by lawmakers

Kentucky teachers hoping retention and funding are addressed by lawmakers
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 10:46 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Monday was a school night for students across Kentucky as they head back to class after winter break. Tuesday is also the “first day” for lawmakers in Frankfort for the 2023 legislative session.

Teachers say the last few years have been challenging in the classroom. From adjustments to remote learning during the pandemic, to the “COVID slide,” as well as communities and schools impacted by the tornadoes in western Kentucky, and the floods in eastern Kentucky.

“We still have students missing because of COVID,” said Allison Slone with Kentucky Teachers in the Know. “We have students missing because of floods and tornadoes, and things like that that they’re still having issues about. So it’s across the board that we’re really concerned about how funding is going to happen for us next year.”

Slone says she worries about districts getting sufficient SEEK funding, which is based on attendance. For the last couple years, she says funding was based on pre-pandemic numbers, but starting next school year, it’ll be based on the year before like normal.

“It’s becoming a major concern of a big gap in funding for next year.”

She says there are still students, and teachers, living in temporary homes, campers, and other places as they still work to recover from natural disasters. In many places, families have left the area which really hurts.

In October, Governor Beshear laid out his goals for the session and education and will likely discuss them Wednesday during his State of the Commonwealth address. They include a 5% across-the-board pay raise for all school staff members, investment in professional development for teachers, as well as $3,000 in student loan forgiveness for teachers per year that they work as a teacher in Kentucky. He also called to restore teacher pensions for new teachers.

“Current teachers need to have some incentives to stay, because they’re leaving,” said Slone. “They’ve been leaving in massive numbers, and we don’t have the same number of people coming into the profession.”

Slone hopes for more when it comes to setting up students for a successful run in school, including universal Pre-K and Kindergarten.

Just last week, Beshear announced Kentucky was awarded a $36 million federal grant over the next three years to expand learning programs.