Quick Takes

House budget falls short of providing competitive teacher salaries, say Kentucky school administrators

By: - January 29, 2024 1:13 pm

When considering job applicants, schools would have more information about any record of sexual misconduct with students if House Bill 275 becomes law. It awaits consideration in the Senate. (Getty Images)

FRANKFORT — Kentucky school districts would be unable to offer competitive teacher salaries under the state budget proposed in the Kentucky House, according to a survey of Kentucky school administrators.

The Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) says 96% of respondents said the “proposed budget increase will not enable the district to attract and retain teachers.”

Ninety-three of the state’s 171 districts responded to the survey.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has proposed funding an 11% raise for all public school staff.

By contrast, the budget proposed in the Republican-controlled House directs school districts to make salaries competitive by using “additional resources” that the legislature would allot to the basic school funding formula, known as Support Education Excellence in Kentucky or SEEK. The current state budget used the same approach, leaving raises up to local discretion, without specifically earmarking money for teacher pay increases.

The school administrators association says the House budget proposal falls short of the legislature’s intent to raise teacher pay and actually decreases SEEK funding from the previous state budget.

“When comparing the total SEEK investment proposed in this budget to the previous one, this budget invests approximately $3,000,000 less,” says the KASA release. 

“While leaders in surrounding states, including Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana, are establishing minimum starting teacher salaries at or around $50,000, Kentucky’s average starting teacher salary rests at a meager $38,010. In one district in Kentucky, a beginning teacher makes only $34,000 — after taxes and mandatory pension contributions are deducted, this drops to less than $25,000 per year,” says the KASA release. 

House Speaker David Osborne on Monday discounted the educators’ warnings. Speaking to reporters, he said, “I would say if you’d taken that poll any of the last 50 years, you would have gotten the exact same results.”

“They never believe that there’s going to be enough money. And yet at the same time, I will tell you that as they continue to ask for full funding of education, for the last four or five years I’ve asked every single time, ‘Tell me what full funding means.’ And they’ve yet to be able to put a number on it,” Osborne said. “We’re constantly evaluating what the ultimate level of funding will be. And then the Senate proposal will do the same.” 

This story has been updated with comments from Speaker David Osborne.

Liam Niemeyer contributed to this report.

Kentucky Association of School Administrators release:

2024_NewsRelease_HB6ProposedBudget_01282024-2

 

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