The Associated Press and Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT MITCHELL - Students say cutting Kentucky's popular Governor's Scholars Program is short-sighted and damages their chances of getting into college.
Three juniors from Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell are among the 1,700 finalists for the highly sought-after slots in the program. But it's among the first casualties of the legislature's failure to pass a budget.
"That's not cool," said Tori Ogle, 17, of Fort Mitchell. "I don't think it is fair to cut money from education. Education is what built our society and cutting money from it is short sighted. There has to be less important items to cut out there."
A total of 150 of the state's highest achieving students have been cut from the program, which offers opportunities on three college campuses.
Ogle's classmate, Stephanie Adams, 17, of Florence said the program helps students prepare for college.
"I think it is ridiculous they are taking money away from education," she said. "It doesn't seem like the way to create a better society."
Shane Lorenz, 17, of Florence said the program gives students a better chance at scholarships.
"Getting selected to the Governor's Scholars Programs could mean the difference in getting to go to my college of choice," he said. "I'm looking at some fairly expensive colleges, and I need scholarships to afford them."
In past years, 1,000 high school juniors have taken part, but Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration sent acceptance letters out to only 850 on Thursday. The local students had not yet received letters. The reduction will save the state about $300,000 out of a $15 billion budget.
The cuts come two days after Kentucky lawmakers adjourned the 2004 General Assembly without solving a budget stalemate.
"It's such a glaring example of our failure," said state Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville.
State Education Secretary Virginia Fox said the state has to act cautiously without a spending plan because there might not be enough money for 1,000 students by the summer.
"I do not want to mislead these young people," she said.
The program allows students to live on college campuses for five weeks, study advanced courses and gives them a better shot at college scholarships. About 14,500 students have participated in the program since it was created in 1983.
The program - aimed at keeping bright students in Kentucky - has broad support among lawmakers of both parties.
Elaine Salvo, college counselor at Louisville's Assumption School, said 14 students at her school are finalists.
"My students are storming my door," she said. "They're on pins and needles."
Pam Robertson, a counselor at Louisville's Central High School, said the program has been especially beneficial to its students - many of whom are minorities - because it offers them opportunities that might otherwise be beyond their reach.
"Many of these kids are first-generation college applicants," she said.
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