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Kentucky Creates Foundation to Supplement Education Spending

Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education are creating an independent foundation called the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky to help local school districts through new funding sources.Education Commissioner Terry Holliday filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State's office Wednesday to create the foundation that will work separately from KDE.The foundation will look for grants and money other than the traditional state, federal and local sources.Louisville’s Mary Gwen Wheeler is on the eight-member Board of Trustees that will decide which funding sources to pursue and ultimately how to spend that money.Wheeler is also executive director of the city's 55,000 Degrees initiative.The foundation, she said, will likely support the state’s new accountability system--called Unbridled Learning--and other programs that think outside the box, including "experimentation, piloting, implementing strategies, but not the core delivery of education."The idea is based on the Colorado Legacy Foundation, said KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross.Last year the foundation spent nearly $4 million supporting school programs, according to its most recent annual report. But, Gross said several states have similar foundations in place.An increase in population has meant less per-pupil spending for local districts despite a state budget that sustained funding for its formula allocating money to local districts. The board of trustees will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the offices of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Frankfort.The members of the board are:

  • Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson
  • Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Buddy Berry, superintendent of the Eminence Independent school district
  • Billy Harper, president and CEO of Harper Industries in Paducah
  • Mary John O’Hair, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education
  • Rep. Carl Rollins
  • Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
  • Mary Gwen Wheeler, executive director of 55,000 Degrees in Louisville and a member of the Kentucky Board of Education