FRANKFORT, Ky. — A wishlist for Kentucky education, just in time for the holidays.

 “Like I tell my kids: you may have nine things on your Christmas wish list; you may get half of those,” Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) said. 

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers are working on education reform as part of the School Funding Task Force

  • The task force met Monday to finalize its recommendations for the upcoming session

  • Lawmakers plan to fund full-day kindergarten permanently after providing a year’s worth of funding this year

  • Lawmakers may also change the school funding formula to one that’s based on enrollment instead of attendance

The wishlist lawmakers are talking about comes from the School Funding Task Force, detailing nine things they want to do in the upcoming session.

It includes funding full-day kindergarten, something most districts in the state already provided but up until this year, was only funded halfway by the state.

“It’s freeing up dollars for local districts to invest where they need to invest in their own communities,” Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) said.

Wise added that school district officials across the state have been asking lawmakers to fund full-day kindergarten since as far back as he can remember. Full funding was passed for the current school year as part of negotiations for a separate bill during the regular legislative session in March.

Another big change lawmakers may pursue is changing the school funding formula from one that’s based on a district’s attendance to one that’s based on a district’s enrollment.

Tipton said the current system actually penalizes districts that may need money the most.

“They have students that are more economically disadvantaged,” he said. “And just because of a result of society, many times those students may not have the encouragement at home to attend school on a regular basis, and I think those districts are financially disadvantaged because of that.”

Lawrence County Schools Superintendent Robbie Fletcher warned that turning to enrollment-based funding could lead to cuts for other schools.

“Unless we add to the budget, you’re going to have winners and losers,” he said.

Tipton said lawmakers will try to implement measures to make sure school districts don’t lose funding as the result of any change.

A couple other key recommendations: lawmakers want to develop a plan to fund the School Safety and Resiliency Act of 2019, which includes school resource officers, and develop a plan to fund school transportation costs.

Republicans control the agenda at the Capitol, but the recommendations have bipartisan support.

Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D-Louisville) said lawmakers need to continue looking at more funding.

“And I think it’s essential that we do the research to find out what we need to do, what it’ll cost to provide an adequate education where every child is given the opportunity to learn,” she said.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass applauded the recommendations in a statement following Monday’s task force meeting.

“I appreciate the thoughtful work that went into this effort and the recommendations, many of which have been longstanding pain points for school funding in Kentucky,” Glass said. “We now look to the General Assembly to act on these recommendations in the upcoming legislative session.”

But the recommendations could take some time, even beyond the upcoming session.

“This is not a one-time fix-it-all (solution),” Tipton said. “We understand that these are complex issues.”

Complex issues that will be among many others as lawmakers try to pass a budget next year.

The full list of recommendations can be found here