Tennessee isn’t the only state whose application is embroiled in controversy. The Kentucky Department of Education has petitioned the FCC to let it submit a single aggregate discount for the statean approach that may anger some people in light of the FCC’s decision to limit funding for internal connections.
In 1990, in response to constitutional challenges from several school districts, Kentucky amended its state constitution to provide equal funding for all districts. Every student in the state receives the same opportunities and the same level of support, regardless of where he or she lives.
Kentucky has carried this equity approach beyond funding and into buying power as well. The state has set up master contracts with vendors to supply each district with several choices, but pricing remains constant for each district along comparative levels of service.
Under the SLC’s rules, Kentucky districts would qualify for discounts of between 40 and 90 percent. But department officials fear that funding each district at the level it qualifies for would undermine the equity approach the state has worked so hard to establish.
Kentucky officials want to submit a uniform discount for each district, calculated as an aggregate total for the state. Kentucky’s discount would be calculated like a single district’s, but weighted by district instead of by school building.
Since 105 of Kentucky’s 176 districts qualify for 80 or 90 percent discounts, this approach yields an aggregate discount for the state of 80 percent. Because 80 percent is also the projected cutoff for funding wiring projects, though, some observers argue that Kentucky’s approach would fund wiring for the state’s less-poor districts at the expense of more deserving districts outside of Kentucky.
The FCC has solicited public comment on Kentucky’s petition. Though it’s too late to respond, you can read the state’s petition on the FCC’s web site. Kentucky expects a decision from the agency soon.