Budget may force cuts at three Boyle schools

May 21, 2004|GARY MOYERS

The Boyle County school system voted Thursday night to approve a tentative 2004-2005 budget that includes zero local revenue growth and a districtwide loss of nearly one full certified position.


"Because of indecisiveness concerning a (state) budget, we could be coming back to you in June or July with different numbers," Superintendent Pam Rogers told board members.

A tentative budget adopted Thursday calls for a reduction in staff at three schools and an increase at two.

Junction City Elementary would lose 2.1 staff positions and Perryville Elementary would lose 1.3. Boyle County High School would lose 0.5.

Boyle Middle School would add 2.5 staff positions and Woodlawn Elementary would grow by 0.6.

School systems are required by state law to submit a tentative budget to the Department of Education by May 30 of each year. In a repeat of 2002, however, the General Assembly failed to pass a state budget, leaving school systems to draft their own budgets without firm commitments as to state and federal funds that may be available.


"We have to turn in a piece of paper to Frankfort now, but things may change when we have more accurate numbers," said Rick Dear, the district's financial officer.

"Those numbers are based on projected enrollment figures for next year," said Dear. "For example, we project, based on fifth-month attendance numbers this year, that next year Junction City will decrease by 32 students. The high school will have a large freshman class but a smaller senior class, and the middle school is growing. This budget keeps the teacher-to-student ratio the same as this year."

All tenured teachers will retain their jobs

School councils will determine where the staff allocations will be made, but Rogers said all tenured teachers in the district will retain their jobs. "We will have to reassign some, but all will have a position next year," she said.

The budget contains no Section 7 positions - certified positions wholly funded by the district.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has said he will oversee the state's budget until the General Assembly adopts one, following the same strategy that former Gov. Paul Patton did in 2002. Fletcher's plan, however, is being challenged in court by Attorney General Greg Stumbo.

Dear said a meeting with Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit in late April indicated schools could expect a slight increase in Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding, a basic allocation per pupil that districts use to fund a variety of programs and positions. However, districts have also been directed to fund a 1.5 percent raise for employees, and Dear said there is a possibility that certain federal funds, doled out in proportion to state funds, may be at risk because there is no state budget.

"We also have to absorb a $34,520 increase in insurance costs, and we still don't know how much rising fuel costs will impact us next year," said Dear. "On top of that, we have to fund $200,000 in mandated technology costs, and we can't take a state-allowed 4.5 percent tax increase this year because that's based on the state adopting a budget. There are a lot of ifs and maybes in this process."

Dear said he has heard the state has "found" an extra $10 million in revenue recently that may or may not be earmarked for education, but there has been no official notification of that windfall.

Non-instructional costs would be frozen at this year's levels

Boyle's tentative budget freezes all non-instructional costs at this year's levels, and includes a 6.65 percent districtwide reduction of personnel. It retains 4.03 percent of the operating budget - $806,791 - as a contingency fund, from which emergency expenditures and personnel raises would be taken. He said school systems' bonding capability for construction projects is practically nonexistent because of a lack of a state budget.

"There is a lot of uncertainty right now about this entire process," said board Chairman Preston Miles.

The board did see one expense reduced when Boyle Sheriff LeeRoy Hardin said his department's commission for property tax collection would be lowered from 2.5 to 2 percent, the same as with the Danville board.

The decision will save Boyle $17,000 in collection expense. "This comes at a very good time for us," said Rogers.

With a collection rate of 98.66 percent, Hardin believes his department ranks among the top four or five in the state in tax collection.

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