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Public education in Kentucky

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K-12 Education in Kentucky
State Superintendent: Terry Holliday
Number of students: 681,987[1]
Number of teachers: 41,860
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:16.3
Number of school districts: 194
Number of schools: 1,565
Graduation rate: 82%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $9,309[3]
See also
Public education in Kentucky
Kentucky Department of Education
Kentucky school districts
List of school districts in Kentucky
The Kentucky public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Kentucky has 175 school districts.

The Kentucky state constitution requires that the state legislature provide for "an efficient system of common schools throughout the State."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Kentucky state budget
Kentucky's education costs are 43.8% of the general fund

Education accounted for approximately 18.5% of the state's 2008-2010 biennium total fund appropriations - $53.2 Billion. However, of the state's general fund appropriations - $19.1 Billion - education accounted for about 43.8%. Postsecondary education, on the other hand, accounted for 20.1% in the state's total allocations and 13.7% in the general fund.[5]

The cost per pupil is $8,686, ranking 40th in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[6]

The Kansas State School Board recommend "funding the law" which would increase the education budget by $471 million, or 15 percent for the 2011-2012 school year.[7]

Personnel salaries

According to the Kentucky Department of Education, in the 2009-2010 school year the average annual teacher salary was $49,332 and the average superintendent salary was $116,957.[8]

School Year Average teacher salary Average superintendent salary
2005-06 $43,275[9] $103,314[10]
2006-07 $44,384[9] $105,874[10]
2007-08 $46,417[9] $113,256[10]
2008-09 $48,603[9] $115,708[10]
2009-10 $49,332[9] $116,957[10]

Role of unions

The main unions related to the Kentucky school system are the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and AFT Kentucky (KAPE), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.[11]

List of local Kentucky school unions:[11]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is responsible for developing and adopting regulations for the state's school districts.[12] The board consists of 12 members, 11 of which are voting members appointed by the governor. Seven members represent the Supreme Court districts and four are at-large members. The twelfth member is a non-voting member that serves as the president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. Members serve four-year terms. According to officials, every year the board elects the chair and vice chair.[13]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Kentucky government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Kentucky School Boards Association.


  • Check It Out Kentucky! provides a searchable database of the Secretary of State's financial information, organized by categories such as expenditures and vendors. In addition, the Office of the Treasurer has developed a site, V.I.E.W. (Vendor Income and Expense Watch), that posts information on contract amounts, contractors, and the government agency issuing the fund. Currently, V.I.E.W. contains financial information for only a handful of state agencies, including the Auditor of Public Accounts, the Department of Highways, the Kentucky State Treasury (State Treasurer), and the Office of the Controller.[14] Data from other agencies will be placed online as that data is approved for release. See the official V.I.E.W. website for more details.
  • Kentucky's Open Door provides spending information including state expenditures on grants, contracts, and public employee salaries. Click here to visit the site.

Academic performance

According to the Kentucky Department of Education in the 2008-2009 school year, 56.34% of students met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Reading requirements, while 59.99% of students met AYP Mathematics requirements. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. In Kentucky during the 2008-2009 school year approximately 84.93% of students graduated.[15]

2008-2009 Reading Data[15]

School Grade Novice (%) Apprentice (%) Proficient (%) Distinguished (%)
Grade 3 6% 18% 58% 18%
Grade 4 6% 20% 56% 18%
Grade 5 7% 23% 54% 16%
Grade 6 7% 25% 52% 16%
Grade 7 7% 28% 49% 15%
Grade 8 6% 26% 54% 15%

2008-2009 Mathematics Data[15]

School Grade Novice (%) Apprentice (%) Proficient (%) Distinguished (%)
Grade 3 8% 18% 38% 37%
Grade 4 9% 19% 39% 32%
Grade 5 13% 23% 37% 28%
Grade 6 12% 24% 38% 27%
Grade 7 12% 25% 38% 24%
Grade 8 16% 28% 36% 19%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[16] 2011 Education Spending[17] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[18] 2012 Education Spending[19] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[20] 2011 Avg. ACT score[21] 2012 Avg. ACT score[22] 2010 Graduation Rate[23] 2011 Graduation Rate[24]
Kentucky $38.3 billion $12.0 billion 31.0% $38.6 billion $11.9 billion 31.0% 19.4 19.6 19.8 76.4% 74.4%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: Kentucky does not have a charter school law.
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Kentucky has two open enrollment policy: intra-district and inter-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school in any alternative district in the state or in any alternative school within a district.[25]
  • Online learning: the state of Kentucky has a state-led online program called the Kentucky Virtual School (KYVS) for grade 6 through 12. According to reports, KYVS enrolled about 2,214 students in the 2007-2008 school year.[26]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Kentucky Constitution,"Education, Section 183," accessed March 13, 2010
  5. Office of State Budget Director, "2008-2010 Budget in Brief," June 11, 2008
  6. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  7. Kansas Watchdog, State Education Board Makes Budget Recommendations, July 13, 2010
  8. Kansas Department of Education,"Certified & Classified Staff Data," last updated February 24, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Kentucky Department of Education,"Average Classroom Teacher Salaries (1989-90 through 2009-10)," accessed March 13, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Kentucky Department of Education,"Superintendent's Salaries (2001-02 through 2009-10)," accessed March 13, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 Center for Union Facts,"Kentucky teachers unions," accessed March 13, 2010
  12. Kentucky Department of Education,"Kentucky Board of Education," last updated February 12, 2010
  13. Kentucky Department of Education,"Kentucky Board of Education Members," last updated November 25, 2009
  14. V.I.E.W. (Vendor Income and Expense Watch) official website
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Kentucky Department of Education,"Kentucky State Report Card 2008-2009," last updated March 06, 2010
  16. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  17. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  18. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  19. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  20. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  21. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  22. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  23. National Center for Education Statistics
  24. National Center for Education Statistics
  25. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed March 13, 2010
  26. The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in Kentucky," accessed March 13, 2010