As state lawmakers wrestle over Kentucky’s upcoming two-year budget, the Owensboro school superintendent said he will join other education leaders at the Capitol next week in an effort to convince legislators that investments in education are critical for economic growth.
When Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Nick Brake talks about the importance of the state investing in education, he speaks from his experience of working with business executives who are considering investing in Kentucky. Brake spent seven years as CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and said states that make a commitment to quality education have a more robust economy in the long-term.
“The three most important things states can do from a fiscal policy standpoint, and the evidence is pretty strong, is that you invest in K-12 education, you invest in higher education and you invest in public infrastructure,” said Brake.
He said previous education reforms led to academic gains in Kentucky, but the trend to underfund public K-12 education in recent years has put the state in danger of losing positive momentum.
“When you look at inflation and the fact that student population has increased, our funding per student is 15 percent lower in 2018 than it was in 2008.”
Brake has written a white paper for Kentucky school superintendents about the need for lawmakers to consider the importance of investing in education as they consider tax reform and the need to fix the state's pension crisis.
Governor Matt Bevin has proposed a budget that preserves the basic funding formula for Kentucky’s public schools. But educators argue that the governor’s recommendation to cut $198 million from K-12 education is too heavy a burden, especially because it shifts more of the costs for transportation and health insurance to local districts.
The governor says the state can no longer put off funding the woefully underfunded pension systems.