December 20 2013

Published: 2/26/2015 10:24 AM
​In this edition of Fast Five on Friday, you will find articles on the following:
• Kentucky Receives $44.3 Million for Early Childhood
• KVEC Chosen to Receive Race to the Top District Grant
• Federal Budget Deal Reached
• Results of Interactive Survey from the Dec. 13 Superintendents’ Webcast
• Operation Preparation Update
• Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Kenny Bell, Wolfe County
• Commissioner’s Blog
Fast Five on Friday
(Seven this Week)
Kentucky Receives $44.3 Million for Early Childhood – In a press release on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced that Kentucky is one of six states that received a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. This will mean $44.3 million to improve access to high-quality early learning and development programs throughout our state. You can access the USED’s press release at the following link:
Governor Beshear also issued a press release on this exciting news that can be located at the following link:{3E10C278-7843-4EA5-A47F-3D6E00CB10D0}&activityType=PressRelease.
The grant will be a tremendous enhancement to our efforts toward increasing college- and career-readiness. The Kentucky Department of Education looks forward to supporting the work of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood as the implementation phase of the grant rolls out.
KVEC Chosen to Receive Race to the Top District Grant – Another piece of good news received this week was the announcement by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) that the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s proposal for a Race to the Top District Grant was chosen for funding. Congratulations to the cooperative and the consortium of 18 rural districts that are partners in this new grant. The work from this grant will be directed to personalize and improve student learning, directly increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers. USED’s press release on this grant can be found at the following link:

Governor Beshear issued the following statement about the grant award:  “I’m extremely proud that for the second time, Kentucky is a winner in the Race to the Top District competition. I was pleased to support the nomination of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and the 18 districts it represents in eastern Kentucky. The KVEC represents rural districts who are working hard to ensure their students receive top-notch educational opportunities.  This group competed against numerous school districts across the nation and came out on top, reinforcing Kentucky’s position as a leader in education.  Today’s announcement further solidifies our commitment to being the best, and I look forward to continued progress of the KVEC districts thanks to the direct benefits of this grant.”

Federal Budget Deal Reached – As you have seen in the press, Congress has passed a federal budget.  The Senate voted 64-36 this week to pass the budget deal (H.J. Res. 59). The House already passed the measure last week by a vote of 332-94, and the President is supposed to sign the bill into law very soon.
Remember that passing this budget resolution is just the first step in the appropriations process. The budget deal sets top-line, government-wide funding numbers, but does not go into detail about how those funds should be divided between specific agencies or programs. Congress has until January 15, when funding for federal agencies will expire, to pass all 12 of the appropriations bills, likely in one large omnibus bill. Appropriations Committee Chairs, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have already started negotiations, giving them a head start on the January 15 deadline.  However, as the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post explain, there is still a lot of work to do to get Congress to agree on actual spending levels. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on January 6, and the House will return the following day, January 7.
Results of Interactive Survey from the Dec. 13 Superintendents’ Webcast – Many thanks to those of you that participated in the Dec. 13 superintendents’ webcast and completed the interactive survey. The results of the survey are attached.
Operation Preparation Update – I’m pleased to see that several more districts have indicated that they plan to take part in Operation Preparation in March. An updated map is attached.  If you haven’t already registered your district’s intention to participate in Operation Preparation 2014, I encourage you to do so at this link: (Please let us know even if you are not going to take part). This will be the third year for Operation Preparation and those who have participated in the past have found it to be a meaningful advising opportunity that not only engages students and parents in our goal of college/career-readiness but also is a great way to involve community members in our schools. For more information or questions, contact Jennifer Smith,
Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Kenny Bell, Wolfe County (Picture Attached) –
Following Superintendent Kenny Bell's leadership theme – “To Care, To Teach, To Learn, we leave no child left behind” – in his sixth year as superintendent of the Wolfe County school district, the district has decreased homeschool enrollment from 45 in 2006-07 to 14 in 2012-13.  At the same time, the district has kept at-risk students from going to homeschool and it also has seen big gains in students’ graduation rate and academic rankings.
Superintendent Bell credits the staff of the Wolfe County school district for the success. “The most important thing is that the staff comes to work and they care about the children,” Bell said. “We have teachers and staff who understand the power of connection, and insist on success for Wolfe County children. We believe that every child deserves a champion. In a district with well over 90% free and reduced lunch, that is a daily requirement.”
All five Wolfe County schools have experienced great success.  Red River Elementary School recently won the Appalachian Innovations Collaborative 2013 Innovation Award for a volunteer after-school tutoring program. Rogers Elementary School won the ACT School of Distinction Award, a distinction given to fewer than seven percent of Kentucky schools. Campton Elementary School has been designated a high-growth school and Wolfe County Middle School also is an improving school striving toward a “proficient” designation. Scoring at the 81st percentile is Wolfe County High School making it a proficient school despite having more than 90 percent free and reduced lunch and ranking 212 out of 230 high schools in 2007.
Commissioner’s Blog – My blog this week is titled “A road map for moving forward” and can be found 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