State Representative Regina Bunch, R-Williamsburg, has been selected to chair the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education and Workforce Development in the new Republican-controlled State House of Representatives.
Bunch, the chair of the program that designs instruction for special needs students at Whitley County Middle School, said the job of the subcommittee is to prepare the portion of the budget dealing with education spending.
As the next biannual budget will not be discussed until the 2018 session, Bunch said the subcommittee would spend the upcoming session holding a series of meetings discussing which educational programs are working and which are not.
“We will start the session by having people come in and present programs and give data,” Bunch explained adding the members of the public will have multiple opportunities to weigh in to the committee on the pros and cons of the various educational programs, as well as give feedback as to what programs should be spending priorities.
“We are not going to throw good money after bad,” Bunch said.
“I want us to get the most for every dollar and for the students of the Commonwealth,” Bunch added.
Bunch said Kentucky is one of multiple states that is doing away with Common Core.
The program, which was developed in 2009 and sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, lays out what each student should know in the subjects of math and English by the end of each grade level.
However, questions about Common Core began to arise, especially in the area of math, when parents across the country learned that their children were not required to memorize multiplication and simple division tables, and required to turn simple math into a complex process.
In addition, teachers across the country complained that they were teaching to the test as opposed to teaching students what they needed to learn and filling out mountains of paperwork.
“We are going away from teachers being bombarded with paperwork,” Bunch said. “Teachers will be able to teach, instead of constantly filling out a form.”
Bunch said the issue of charter schools is going to be addressed.
While Bunch agreed that charter schools have a place in metropolitan areas such as Jefferson and Fayette counties, she said she doesn’t see a way for the model to work in rural areas.
While charter schools are autonomous from the public school system, they are still held to the same state testing of other public schools.
Parents and staff have more freedom in developing the curriculum at the school.
Every three to five years, the school’s charter is reviewed to ensure it is meeting state standards.
Bunch said as a rural educator, she is concerned about the effect charter schools may have on the already limited budgets of many rural Kentucky schools, especially those in eastern Kentucky.
Bunch will also serve on the appropriations and revenue committee and continue to serve on the education, and veterans and military affairs committees.
As the new chair of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, Bunch said she would be focusing on improving healthcare for veterans.
Bunch, whose district includes the Whitley County portion of Corbin along with southern Laurel County, said she is taking a wait-and-see approach on Senate President Robert Stivers’, R-Manchester, proposal to pass the necessary legislation to permit Corbin to annex into Laurel County.
In order for Corbin to be able to annex into Laurel County, the state law that prohibits a city from annexing into a county where it doesn’t currently have incorporated territory, must be changed.
Bunch said she wants to see details of the legislation before throwing her support behind it.
“I never say that I would support any legislation because I don’t know how it will look when it comes to the floor,” Bunch said explaining there could be riders attached or other language in the bill that she doesn’t support.
However, Bunch said she supports the idea.
“I do see it as progress and growth and I think that is positive for the area,” Bunch said.
“There is no reason that we can’t do it so that it is acceptable to everyone,” Bunch added.
Bunch said with a Republican governor and majorities in both houses of the legislature, they must work harder to deliver on their campaign promises.
“I hope we are fiscally responsible,” Bunch said when asked what she wants to see from the new leadership.
Bunch said she always wants to hear from her constituents and welcomes their input.
Bunch may be reached through the capitol switchboard at (606) 564-8100 ext. 683, locally at 549-3439, or through email at Regina.Bunch@lrc.ky.gov