School Board takes aim at state funding cuts
Barlow - Ballard County has joined with other school districts throughout the state in passing a resolution that urges legislators in addressing public school system funding in its next legislative session.
Superintendent Casey Allen presented the resolution to the board during its recent monthly meeting held on Monday, Nov. 11th. The resolution advocates for the increase in educational funding throughout the state. The resolution, which can be tailored to meet each district’s specific concerns, will be sent to legislators in each district that passes it.
The Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky School Board Association are asking districts to consider the funding resolution, according to Allen. “I want you to be very comfortable doing this because, basically, what you’re doing is sending the message to legislators that they are not doing their job,” Allen told board members.
Board Chairman Haskell Sheeks said he had mixed feelings about the resolution and had called Rep. Stephen Rudy. “…enough people have done it already, but then the flip side, there is the solidarity issue for us,” Sheeks said.
Sheeks told the board Rudy’s response that, although the issue has become a point of perceived ad nauseum in their opinion, “I’m comfortable either way. I understand that you all have to do what you have to do, and I’m comfortable that you are working for us but this is a statewide issue. Whichever way you go, I’m comfortable with it.”
Sheeks continued his opinion by saying, “I’m torn between do we owe solidarity…or should we because as he [Superintendent Allen] said the day after our last meeting, we were told they were going to cut $100,000.”
Board member Tammy Dennis said, “In general what this says is you’re telling us we got to do all this stuff, but how do we pay for it because you’re not telling us that. You need to help us pay for this; we can’t stand on our own.”
At last month’s meeting, the board unanimously approved contributing to the Council for Public Education and their study to determine whether or not Kentucky school funding is adequate and equitable. Allen said he had spoken with other superintendents saying that he didn’t know if they needed to do a resolution since they contributed to the study to find out if Ballard’s funding is adequate or not.
“If not, then someone needs to fix it, and that’s why the study was approved,” explained Allen. “However, I think it really comes back to what Mr. Sheeks says and that is that there is starting to be an expectation that all school boards need to do this to let everyone know-- ‘we’re all in the same boat,’” said Allen.
Allen explained that the lack of funding, especially since the passing of Senate Bill 1 (Unbridled Learning) has forced the district to reduce staffing, reduce student’s educational opportunities, and consider cost-saving options that would significantly limit students’ ability to become College and Career Ready.
“They keep passing unfunded mandates, and we keep telling them time and time again, ‘If you pass it, someone’s got to pay for it,’” said Allen. “We need more money, and you say you don’t have it, then you have to figure out a way to raise revenue… The state has to figure that out.”
According to Allen, the goal is for the whole state and all the school boards to speak as one and say, “You’re not giving us what we need to be successful.”
The McCracken Board unanimously passed its resolution in late October, and the Paducah School Board also passed its resolution as well.
In other business, the board unanimously agreed to accept the Kentucky Education Technology Services (KETS) first offer of assistance in funding for technology. KETS makes the offer two times a year. If the board accepts the funds, which are used to maintain a district technology plan, then they need to match it with General Funds.
The board also heard the internal and external annual audit/financial reports as given by David Hampton with Kemper CPA Group LLP of Paducah. Hampton found no instances of non-compliance, and he cited no deficiencies within the Internal Control of Compliance. Hampton did note the district’s situation stemming from the dissolution of the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT) and the subsequent assessment issued to the district.
The board approved Bob Morrow and Kreg Denton as community and business leaders to serve on the Local Planning Committee. Additionally, Superintendent Allen talked about the purchase of Scholarship CD’s, which will yield $2,200, and he gave a report on Resources and Support Systems.