Fair school funding systems ensure that districts, schools, and ultimately students receive significant additional funding according to their specific needs. Providing high-quality learning opportunities for students living in poverty, English learners, students with disabilities, and rural students requires additional resources.

According to The Education Trust’s State of Funding Equity, in Kentucky:

  • The highest poverty districts receive $729 or 6.4% more state and local revenue than the lowest poverty districts.
  • The districts serving the most students of color receive $732 or 6.1% more state and local revenue per student than the districts serving the fewest students of color.
  • The districts serving the most English learners receive $723 or 6% more state and local revenue per student than the districts serving the fewest English learners.

For more information about how these data compare with other states or district specific information, see The Education Trust’s State of Funding Equity report.

Learn more about
how Kentucky
funds students

According to EdBuild, “Kentucky has a primarily student-based formula. It assigns a cost to the education of a student with no special needs or services, called a base amount, and provides increased funding to educate specific categories of students. The categories of students considered in Kentucky’s funding policy are English-language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, students identified as gifted, and students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs.”

The Education Law Center’s 2023 Making the Grade Report rated Kentucky’s school funding:

  • D on per-pupil funding relative to the national average.
  • D on the percentage difference in per-pupil funding in high-poverty districts relative to low-poverty districts.
  • C on the PK-12 funding as a percentage of state GDP.


Student Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity, 2021-22

Per-Pupil Expenditures, Fiscal Year 2021




Per-Pupil Expenditures

How fair is
Kentucky’s Funding?

Using criteria developed based on research, best practice, and what we believe, we provide ratings for Kentucky’s school funding formula below. Our goal is for states to build a simplified, student-weighted funding formula guided by students’ different levels of need with the goals of eliminating achievement and opportunity gaps. We aim for states to create adequate, equitable, and transparent formulas that provide clear dollar allocations by assigning additional “weights” for students from low-income families, English learners, students with disabilities, and rural students.

For more on how we determined our ratings for Kentucky click here.

See our ratings across states, an explanation of the criteria we used to differentiate between state funding systems, and explanations of our specific state rankings here.

Meets Criteria
Partially Meets Criteria
Doesn’t Meet Criteria
RatingReason for Rating
The funding formula is
student-based, or weighted
The formula is student-based
Per-pupil funding is adequate enough for all students to achieve average, national test scores
There is a moderate percentage of students attending schools in inadequately funded districts
Formula includes a weight or additional funding for students living in poverty
The formula includes a 15% weight for students living in poverty
Formula includes a weight or additional funding for
English learners
The formula includes a 9.6% weight for English learners
Formula includes a weight or additional funding for students
with disabilities
The formula includes SPED weights for 3 different categories of needs: low/severe (135%), moderate (17%) and high (24%) incidence
Formula includes a weight or additional funding for sparse and/or isolated districts
The formula does not include a sparsity weight
Formula includes weights or additional funding for districts with high levels of concentrated poverty
The formula does not include a weight for concentrated poverty
State caps how much local revenue districts can raise to limit between-district disparities in local revenue
The formula sets a cap on local property tax rates and allows voters to approve additional tax increases to raise revenue
State annually publishes information about how the funding system is designed to work in clear, plain language
The state education department publishes an executive summary that provides an overall explanation of the components of the state’s formula; the department also publishes several documents that explain district calculations, but they are not user friendly
State reports school spending data in alignment with equity-oriented principles
The state reports are partially aligned with equity-oriented school spending reporting principles
Taxpayer funds are used to maintain and support public
schools exclusively
The state does not have any programs that divert public dollars to private schools
Sources: EdBuild

Who’s Who

in Kentucky

The Kentucky General Assembly is Kentucky’s state legislature. The bicameral body has a House of Representatives with 100 members and a State Senate with 38 members. Both the House and the Senate have standing Education Policy committees that hear all related education legislation. The Appropriations and Revenue committees in each house also have standing education subcommittees. In 2024, the legislature will convene January 2, 2024 and meet for 60 legislative days to adjourn April 15, 2024.

State Superintendent of Education
The Kentucky Commissioner of Education is appointed by the 15-member Kentucky Board of Education. The Commissioner reports to the Board of Education and leads the Kentucky Department of Education which oversees the state’s PK-12 schools.

State Board of Education
The Kentucky Board of Education has 15 members. The governor appoints 11 voting members, seven representing the Supreme Court districts and four representing the state at large. The additional members, the President of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, a high school student, and active elementary or secondary school teacher, serve as non-voting members.