Remarks
KVHS News Conference
Thursday, October 7, 1999

Thank you all for being here.

Today, I’m announcing another education first for Kentucky and the nation.

Before I do that, allow me to give you a bit of history on how we got to this point.

The Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky’s 176 local school districts have been moving aggressively for the past seven years to bring the state’s entire education system in compliance with the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).

The Technology Portion of KERA called for every school in Kentucky to be connected to a statewide technology system.

It called for every classroom in Kentucky to have at least one high-speed internet connection for students, one high-speed internet connection for every teacher, and to make at least one internet computer accessible for each six students.

As of July 1, 1999, 96% of Kentucky’s 1366 public schools have at least one Internet connection, and 1182 of these schools, (87%) have high-speed connections.

Of Kentucky’s 37,734 classrooms, 80% (30,200) have at least one Internet connection for students.

And there is currently approximately one quality computer and an Internet connection available for every seven students.

All 176 (100%) of our local school district offices use KETS e-mail and 75% of our 30,000 teachers have KETS e-mail accounts.

In addition, every classroom in Kentucky is equipped to use video for instruction.

On July 1, 1999, $118 million was appropriated by the state to complete the Plan during the present fiscal year.

All deficiencies that currently exist are in the process of being addressed by the state and local districts.

All schools will be in compliance with the KERA Master Plan For Education Technology by June 30, 2000.

According to the Milkin Family Foundation, no other statewide education system in the nation is as "wired" as Kentucky, a state consisting of 120 counties with an education system of 176 predominately rural county and independent school districts.

Of these 176 districts, 75 have less than 2,000 students enrolled in K-12, and 33 have less than 1,000 students.

District enrollments vary from a low of approximately 260 students in K-12 in the Silver Grove independent school district (less than 70 in high school) to a high of 96,000 in the Jefferson County schools.

Seven high schools in Kentucky have 100 or fewer students and a dozen with less than 200.

Economic logic would dictate that course offerings in a high school of 70 would not be consistent with the variety of courses offered in most of Kentucky’s larger districts.

This is an inequity that should not exist and is unacceptable.

The 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court decision that served as a catalyst for passage of landmark legislation creating the KERA only addressed funding equity specifically and used only broad language in defining "a system of effective common schools".

The subject of academic equity was not specifically addressed.

Not a single one of Kentucky’s 195,000 high school students should be denied an opportunity to enroll in high-level academic courses because of the size and location of their school or school district.

Because of the education technology infrastructure that is in place throughout the system, Kentucky is uniquely positioned to address this academic inequity.

That’s why today we’re announcing the creation of a statewide, state operated, virtual high school, the Kentucky Virtual High School (KVHS).

The KVHS will make upper level math, science, foreign language, Advanced Placement, and other course offerings, including college courses for dual credit, available to every high school in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s investment in computers and technology infrastructure in elementary-secondary schools at the end of this fiscal year will be $619 million from state and local funding.

Kentucky will have in place:

  1. Every school and classroom wired with high-speed connections
  2. A workstation and Internet connection for every teacher
  3. A workstation and Internet connection for every six students
  4. 100% of schools equipped with a Satellite
  5. 100% of classrooms equipped with instructional Television

Kentucky is ready to populate that infrastructure with high school curriculum available anytime-anywhere.

When the Kentucky Virtual High School opens in January 2000, for the 2nd semester of this school year, it will provide students everywhere in the state the opportunity to take challenging advanced courses not available at their local high schools.

It’s a major step forward in terms of equality of opportunity for all students, particularly those in rural areas.

The Kentucky Virtual High School will make us the leader in delivering curriculum and high quality instruction to students in our high schools and adult education programs.

The courses will also be available to adults working toward a GED or regular high school diploma, to persons learning English as a second language, home school students, homebound students and young people housed in the Juvenile Justice System.