Everyone’s eyes are on SB163. The bill would allow schools with a program in the five top workforce-needed areas in Kentucky to receive reimbursement through Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, more commonly known as KEES.
It fixes a long-time problem, says Erin Klarer, vice president of government relations at the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. Some proprietary schools don’t participate in Pell grants and are providing workforce training. Currently, those proprietary school students who’ve earned KEES money in high school can’t spend it at their institutions. If passed, this bill would allow those students to be reimbursed. Right now, that reimbursement process works only for registered apprenticeships and other skilled trades work.
Expanding the reimbursement process also means narrowing what programs are eligible for reimbursement down to the top five most-needed areas, as determined by the Workforce Investment Board: advanced manufacturing, construction, business and information technology, health care, and transportation and logistics.
“It provides more opportunities for students to stay in Kentucky and attend a Kentucky institution,” Klarer says. “We would probably have a pretty quick return on investment for filling workforce needs and filling some of these desperately needed jobs available right now.” Editor’s note: While the measure did pass, Governor Andy Beshear vetoed it as this issue went to press. Opponents claim the bill as written would keep formerly incarcerated persons from accessing educational opportunities.