March 17, 2023 – With just two working days left in this legislative session, public education
continues to be a key topic among lawmakers. The Kentucky Association of School
Superintendents remains committed to championing crucial issues related to student
achievement, but we need your help! We urge you to talk to your legislators and voice support
for ensuring students have the resources they need to make progress, be engaged and receive
a quality education in every school.
Unfortunately, school districts are facing a catastrophic funding cliff brought on largely by
attendance-related effects of the pandemic. Please urge lawmakers to put Kids First in Kentucky
by stabilizing public education budgets now to ensure students have the resources they need to
be at their best in the classroom, and out of it.
In Kentucky, public school funding is based on how many students show up every day, or
average daily attendance (ADA). If attendance drops, so does funding. Schools, however, must
be prepared each day to function as if every student will walk through the doors: Classrooms
are staffed. Buildings are heated and cooled. Meals are prepared. Buses run their regular
This funding model is sufficient when attendance averages about 95 percent of a district’s total
enrollment, which is about what Kentucky districts averaged pre-pandemic. But that model
poses significant risks to providing the education we all want for our children when attendance
slips into the low 90 percent range. And make no mistake – nearly every school district in our
Commonwealth has seen a drop in ADA.
At the onset of the pandemic, legislators allowed districts to use 2019 attendance rates for
purposes of funding, to counterbalance Covid absences. That provision, however, will expire
June 30, 2023, and the impact will be significant for districts all across Kentucky. Currently,
attendance rates are down 3% or more on average, posing considerable funding challenges for
districts when the school funding formula returns to the traditional ADA model.
At the same time, districts that have seen their enrollment grow over the past three years are
also at a critical juncture. These districts have continued to educate, transport, feed and
support an increasing number of students, but have received no additional dollars while the
funding formula was effectively frozen. These districts and the students they serve need relief
Fortunately, there is a solution: With nearly $56 million in excess SEEK funds, money is already
appropriated and available to help offset these anomalies. We implore the Kentucky General
Assembly to redistribute the excess FY23 SEEK funds – which have already been designated for
education purposes but will lapse to the General Fund if not redirected – to help soften the
financial loss for districts experiencing a drop in the current year’s ADA, as well as to provide
districts that have grown during the pandemic with the catch-up funding they need.
These mechanisms will provide a bridge to help in FY24, during which the General Assembly will
reconvene for a budget session to consider education funding with fresher data and a clearer
direction forward. In the meantime, we urge action to address these issues so that Kentucky
students will have the resources and educational programming they need and deserve in the
upcoming school year.