PDT Staff Writer
The Greenup County School’s Board of Education voted at its August meeting to raise property taxes of Greenup County residents four percent to help offset state and federal funding cuts.
“The reasoning behind that was to continue to support our classrooms and educational endeavors here in Greenup. Due to federal and state funding budget shortfalls, our budgets are shrinking and they are wanting local participation to increase to offset those shortfalls,” said Steve Hall, Greenup County Schools Superintendent.
Under Kentucky law, school districts are allowed to raise property taxes a maximum of four percent without the tax hike going to ballot.
“We did the same thing last year. The year before that and for several years they (school board) took the compensatory rate of two percent,” Hall said. “Most districts stay with that two percent until it gets to an issue about finances.”
He said the district is not considering a levy at this time, but there was conversation among board of education members of a possible utility tax.
Hall said the increased property taxes will bring in an estimated $150,000 to the district, but the tax revenue will not make up the difference on what has been cut.
“In the last two years we had two reductions in funding mid-year. Between the two, it cost us about $480,000,” Hall said.
According to Hall, the district is trying to keep the adversities of the reductions far away from the classroom.
“We begin looking at our allocations in March for the following year. Those allocation meetings are a couple of months off but the planning needs to start now,” Hall said. “We are going to look at every other possibility where we can make up the funding shortfalls other than the classroom.”
Hall acknowledged that because of funding cuts, the district is going to face some tough choices in the future.
“The spring of 2014 is going to be very critical. At that time our federal funding we are getting for our high school will be ending. When those monies stop, it’s going to be very critical how we maintain our staffing,” Hall said. “We currently get $997,000 per year for three years and we are in our second year of that funding.”
He said the reason the district is receiving the federal funding is because Greenup County High School was placed on a presently low achieving status.
“Because of that status, we were awarded this grant. With this grant we fund several teaching slots and several positions to support student achievement. How do you maintain those things, when those federal dollars are gone?” Hall asked. “Our general fund will not be able to makeup that kind of money. What we are hoping to do is have systems and processes in place that will be able to sustain. Even though the human resource of that will be reduced, we are hoping to have systems in place that will maintain the academic momentum we’ve got going there.”
He said there are some great things happening at the high school and to maintain what Greenup has thus fair will be a challenge.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or email@example.com.