School Funding Task Force reviews SEEK funding for upcoming school year

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – State officials with the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Finance and Operations met with the Legislative Research Commission’s (LRC) School Funding Task Force during its June 14 meeting.

KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney and Chay Ritter, director of the department’s Division of District Support, gave the task force an overview of Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding (SEEK). SEEK is the primary source of funding for the state’s school districts.

According to the KDE, the SEEK funding program is a formula-driven allocation of state-provided funds to local school districts which considers as part of the allocation funding for transportation costs, low-income students and special needs students as reported by districts.

Kinney and Ritter went over the different aspects of SEEK, including its formation through the Kentucky Education Reform Act and district requirements.

For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, districts were allowed flexibility in Senate Bill 177 to choose whether they wanted to use their 2018-2019 or 2019-2020 school year attendance data for calculations related to SEEK funding. For the upcoming school year, schools will go back to taking attendance for funding purposes. According to Kinney, this means SEEK will return to its normal formula which awards funding based on attendance data.

After the presentation, Kinney asked task force members to think about providing additional funding to the department to upgrade software that would allow any potential changes to SEEK to be more easily implemented.

A preview of the LRC’s Office of Education Accountability’s Report on School Funding was also given to the task force. The report will be finalized and given to the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee in October.

“This study will examine how SEEK and SEEK transportation funding is distributed to districts,” said Bart Liguori, OEA’s research division manager. “The study will also include how other state’s distribute education funding.”

Liguori added that the study’s results will help inform the School Funding Task Force’s work.

Consisting of members from the Kentucky General Assembly and established under House Bill 405 (2021), the School Funding Task Force will look over Kentucky’s current K-12 funding mechanism and how it compares with other state’s models. Any recommended changes developed by the group to ensure the equitable and efficient funding of public schools around the state relating to SEEK will be submitted to the LRC by Dec. 1.

The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for July 19.

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