FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Governor Andy Beshear unveiled his top education priorities for 2023, including salary increases for all school staff, universal pre-K, and more, during a a press conference at the Capitol rotunda on Thursday.
Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, a teacher, coach and school administrator herself, said, “Ensuring every child in Kentucky has access to a world-class education means we must put our children first, support the people who come forward for our children. and making sure our schools have the resources to do what we ask them to do. Our Education First plan does just that, proving that our administration’s commitment to public education is unwavering.
Beshear’s pay proposal includes 5% increases for teachers and all other school employees, since Kentucky ranks 44th in the nation in teacher pay.
“We will ask the General Assembly to reopen the budget in the next session, to provide this increase,” he said. “It’s going to give us the ability to not only pay teachers what they’re worth, because they’re worth a lot more than we’re paying them, but to make those jobs more competitive.”
Beshear said he would also seek to have lawmakers implement universal pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, as well as full-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds, which he said would cost the state $172 million a year.
“This year’s Kentucky kindergarten screening report card shows that 62.7 percent of Kentucky children were below average in academic and cognitive ability,” he said. “We want to make sure our reading and test scores improve and make sure every child is ready for kindergarten.”
Additionally, he noted that it would help identify learning challenges, so that early intervention can take place. It would also help more women to enter or re-enter the labor market.
The governor said he will work with the General Assembly to restore funding for professional development, textbooks and teaching resources, to ensure that teachers do not have to not only teach, but catch up with students in case learning loss.
Beshear’s other two proposals include creating eight regional institutes for social and emotional learning so educators have access to training on how best to help students with their mental health, and restoring the traditional pension plan. defined benefit to guarantee benefits after so many years of service as a teacher. retention measure.
He said the state can support these proposals. “Right now, Kentucky has a record revenue surplus, with revenue trending 11% higher than last year and significantly above estimates.”