December 13 2013

Published: 2/26/2015 10:24 AM

​In this edition of Fast Five on Friday, you will find articles on the following:
• Inquiries about Read to Achieve Grant Application
• Call for Reviewers for Read to Achieve Grant
• Budget Letter to Gov. Beshear, Representative Stumbo and Senator Stivers
• Commissioner’s KASS Presentation and Update on Education Progress Handout
• Congressional Budget Deal
• SREB Commission Focuses on Career and Technical Education
• Dec. 20 CSIP/CDIP Deadline
• Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Josh Powell, Montgomery County
• Commissioner’s Blog

Fast Five on Friday
(Nine This Week)
Inquiries about Read to Achieve Grant Application – A Read to Achieve (RTA) grant application was posted on the KDE website on December 9, 2013 and this opportunity will close on February 3, 2014. KDE has received several inquiries about whether schools with existing RTA grants have to reapply.
This is a brand new grant opportunity, so all interested schools (current and new) have to apply; however, part 6 of the scoring rubric gives additional points to school districts that demonstrate successful implementation of a prior RTA grant.
KDE has also received inquiries about whether the timeframe for response can be extended. KDE appreciates that districts will need adequate time to respond. Grant applications are typically issued for at least 4 weeks or longer and this particular application will be open for 7 weeks. In addition, the timing of this particular grant award is important because KDE has to complete an evaluation of all RTA grant responses and provide districts with notice of RTA grant awards as soon as possible in order to allow districts to adequately take this into account in fully planning for the next school year in the spring.
Call for Reviewers for Read to Achieve Grant – The KDE anticipates the need for a large number of reviewers for the RFA relative to the Read to Achieve Grant. The Call for Reviewers is posted with the RFA on the KDE Competitive Grants webpage found here
Budget Letter to Gov. Beshear, Representative Stumbo and Senator Stivers – Last week I sent a letter to Governor Steve Beshear, Representative Greg Stumbo and Senator Robert Stivers (attached) about the need for them to support the allocation of additional revenues and funding for FY 15 and FY 16. I emphasized the critical need for restoring education funding to 2008-09 levels in order for Kentucky to continue the strong progress schools and districts have made during the implementation of Senate Bill 1. I am continuing to ask superintendents and all of our partners to communicate this same message.
Commissioner’s KASS Presentation and Update on Education Progress – Many of you at the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents’ meeting asked that I make available the presentation I used on the budget, KSBIT and the ESEA waiver. The presentation can be found on the commissioner’s webpage at the following link:
I will be using a similar set of slides as I meet with editorial boards and legislators on these issues. Additionally, I will use a handout titled “Four Years of Progress in Kentucky Public Education (2009-2013)” (attached) to emphasize the many accomplishments of schools and school districts that require additional resources to sustain them and to make new progress.
Congressional Budget Deal – Tuesday, U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced a bipartisan budget framework to fund the federal government through October 1, 2015 and prevent another government shutdown. The House passed the legislation and the Senate will vote before adjourning for the year next week.
The budget deal would alleviate the impact of the sequester by increasing non-defense discretionary spending by $63 billion in FY14 and FY15. In FY16, the sequester would be reinstated unless Congress again acts to roll back scheduled reductions. The deal includes $20 billion in deficit reduction but does not include major changes to entitlements or the tax code.
It is important to remember that the deal is a compromise on the budget, but it is not an actual spending bill. Passage of the budget bill would permit appropriations committees in both chambers to allocate the funds under the agreed-upon top-line funding levels. Congress now has until January 15 to divide funds between the 12 federal spending bills and set funding levels for specific programs. 
A summary of the budget deal is attached.
SREB Commission Focuses on Career and Technical Education – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is chair of the Southern Regional Education Board and this week announced the formation of a Career and Technical Education Commission. See the press release on this commission at the following link:
Dec. 20 CSIP/CDIP Deadline – This is to serve as a reminder that all Comprehensive School Improvement Plans and all Comprehensive District Improvement Plans are due in ASSIST by December 20th. Questions on this matter can be directed to Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster at or via phone at (502) 564-5130, ext. 4001.
Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Josh Powell, Montgomery County (Picture Attached)
In 2011, the Montgomery County school district was ranked 132nd out of (then) 174 districts in the state. With a change in leadership and an empowerment philosophy, a vision to lead all of Kentucky by achieving the top 10 in everything was developed.
In just two years, Montgomery County has increased to 29th in the state. There also was significant improvement in the 2013 Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning Working Conditions Survey, known as TELL Kentucky, in comparison with the 2011 survey. This is equally important as there is a direct correlation between school culture, employee civility and student achievement.
The district has come a long way, but the 2013-14 school year is pivotal. One initiative implemented this school year to assure that students are academically prepared is Powell’s Priority: iRead to Succeed. Advanced reading strategies have been implemented at every school to improve student reading and comprehension skills. The intention of the initiative is that every child will be able to read at grade level or above by the end of the 3rd grade.
The school district is participating in the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program to assist in honing the district for optimum efficiency and success. In 2013, Montgomery County is completing the third of four phases in the Kentucky Center for Performance Excellence Program, which is a requirement for advancement to the national Baldrige application level.
This school year, in meeting a goal to grow and retain quality leaders, the district developed a cohort with neighboring Morehead State University to enable school employees to pursue advanced leadership degrees. Evening classes are held in the school district, with instruction provided by Superintendent Powell and members of the administrative team. Also, beginning with the 2013-14 school year was the opening of the Montgomery County Accelerated Academy, MC2, which serves 90 advanced middle and high school students.
The district’s goal is for every student to score proficient and distinguished. Montgomery County students are motivated by their own success. Higher test scores indicate that students are becoming more effective at learning and will have a greater chance for success throughout their school careers and future lives.
Commissioner’s Blog – This week’s blog is titled “Perfect Storm Slowing Down.” It can be accessed at the following link:
If you have questions on any of the articles included in this edition of Fast Five, please contact me at the e-mail address or phone number found below.
Terry Holliday, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Office 502-564-3141
Fax 502-564-5680
Twitter @kycommissioner