A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Opinion – Open Letter to state legislators from KY Association of School Administrators re HB 6

KASA extends its gratitude to our dedicated legislators for their unwavering commitment to Kentuckians through HouseBill 6 (HB6). We understand the challenges lawmakers face when crafting budgets, and we acknowledge their dedication to the betterment of our state.

It is because of their desire for a better Kentucky, we are compelled to emphasize the proposed state budget, while commendable in many aspects, falls short in one critical area—enabling school districts to offer competitive teacher salaries to address the dire and growing teacher shortage. While leaders in surrounding states, including Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana, are establishing minimum starting teacher salaries at or around $50,000, Kentucky’s average starting teacher salary rests at a meager $38,010. In one district in Kentucky, a beginning teacher makes only $34,000 — after taxes and mandatory pension contributions are deducted, this drops to less than $25,000 per year.

In our effort to work with House leadership toward a stronger state of public education, we turned to data to guide us in our plea. KASA surveyed Kentucky’s school district leaders to assess the impact of HB6 on teacher salaries. The results are minimal at best. This data is based on the responses from 93 public school districts:

• 53.7% of respondents anticipate a 0-2% teacher salary increase under the current budget proposal.
• 34.4% anticipate a 2-3% teacher salary increase under the current budget proposal.
• 6.4% estimate a 3-4% teacher salary increase under the current budget proposal.
• 5.5% indicated they could give raises over two years of no more than 5% while others may need to cut salaries or reduce staff due to declines in average daily attendance.
• 60% said the additional transportation funding would not make higher staff salaries more likely.
• These estimates assume every additional dollar received is applied only to teacher salaries – leaving local taxpayers to foot the bill for increased costs due to inflation, raises for non-teaching staff, and classroom supplies at minimum.
• 96% of respondents said the proposed budget increase will not enable the district to attract and retain teachers.

This matters because the budget language specifies the following:

“The General Assembly directs each local board of education to consider the actions of other states and the local economy and the related effect on recruitment and retention when establishing the salary schedules for classroom teachers and classified employees. Additional funds have been made available to local school districts through increases in SEEK resources. The 2024 General Assembly encourages local school districts to provide certified and classified staff a salary or compensation increase.”

We are grateful our voices were heard in this regard, but the available data does not indicate that ‘legislative intent” can be achieved with the current proposal. Further, we know Kentucky can do better. When comparing the total SEEK investment proposed in this budget to the previous one, this budget invests approximately $3,000,000 less.

Thus, while the funding provided in HB6 is a forward step, it is inadequate to help school districts compete with neighboring states, property-rich districts, and private industry when it comes to teacher salaries. This budgetary gap will exacerbate the teacher shortage, hinder our ability to attract new individuals to the profession, and result in declining math and reading scores.

KASA wants parents, citizens, and especially our legislators to understand the proposed funding levels in HB6 are woefully insufficient to attract and retain teachers. This budgetary inadequacy will further hinder our efforts to improve reading and math scores and place Kentucky at a disadvantage compared to neighboring states such as Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida, which are proactively addressing teacher shortages through higher salaries.

Submitted by:

KASA, The School Leaders Association

KASA is the largest school administrator group in Kentucky, representing more than 3,400 education leaders across the commonwealth. Leaders represented include superintendents, principals, counselors, and district office administrators. Formed in 1969, KASA provides leadership and support to promote excellence in education and advance the success of all students in Kentucky’s public schools. Visit kasa.org for more information. Dr. Ronda Caldwell is Chief Executive Officer.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment