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Jim Waters

May 2, 2024

New Bluegrass Institute Policy Point reports increased spending, falling proficiency rates and teachers’ salaries in Fayette County Public Schools

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 2, 2024

Contact: Jim Waters @ (270) 320-4376

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS), Kentucky’s second-largest school district, has recently canceled significant academic programs over parents’ objections despite substantial funding increases and falling enrollment rates and teachers’ salaries.

A Bluegrass Institute Policy Point released today reports dramatic per-pupil funding increases in recent years and over several decades.

According to "A Review of Facts and Trends in Fayette County Public Schools: More spending, low proficiency rates and falling teachers’ salaries,” the district received a hefty $22,621 to educate each student during the 2022-23 school year, an inflation-adjusted increase of $4,000 over the previous two years and 12% higher than per-pupil funding statewide.

The report also found that between 1990 and 2023, FCPS per-pupil funding:

· rose by 110%, or 2.1 times more (after inflation), from $10,769,

· climbed nearly every year,

· increased by more than 43% since 2014,

· averaged $1,570 more than the state average, and

· increased exponentially more than teachers’ salaries.

The policy point is the latest in a continuing series of data dives by Bluegrass Institute Scholar John Garen, Ph.D., revealing a dramatic and near-continuous rise in overall funding since 1990, yet little improvement in educational outcomes, resulting in a large deterioration in the effectiveness of K-12 funding.

In his analysis of FCPS spending and performance trends, Garen found:

· More than half of FCPS students failed to reach grade-level proficiency on the Kentucky Summative Assessment, except for fourth-grade reading, where 49% still failed to make the grade.

· Seven out of every 10 Black FCPS students failed to reach proficiency.

· FCPS high school juniors’ ACT scores rose slightly from 2008 to 2017 but have since fallen.

In addition to declining academic performance, FCPS officials recently canceled programs that parents had requested, including failing to add a previously announced sixth grade to Rise STEM Academy for Girls, which focuses on low-income families, and an art class at Cassidy Elementary.

“The district’s tone-deafness to parents’ complaints on top of half of its students failing to reach even grade-level proficiency speaks to the dire need for heightened accountability on the part of FCPS regarding its funding, management and performance,” said Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters.

“Also, arguably no better case has been made for empowering parents with the freedom to determine where and how their children are educated than the data that Dr. Garen has gathered and packaged in this analysis of FCPS,” Waters added.

For more information, please contact author John Garen at or Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters at or 270.320.4376 (cell).

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