Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 29, 2013

School board looks at budget troubles

WESTWOOD — Preliminary budget numbers indicate painful times ahead for the Fairview school district, finance director Ernie Sharp said Monday.

“We have dug into our contingency until we can’t dig any more,” Sharp said. “We are going to have to look real hard at our employment numbers and see if we can get by.”

Sharp made his remarks after the board of education approved the district’s draft budget Monday.

The chief reason for the doom and gloom outlook is still-dropping state funding. The state cut its per-pupil funding another $6 for the 2013-2014 year after having cut it $70 the year before, Sharp said.

For Fairview, with an average daily attendance of about 760, that means another $4,600 pared away, which doesn’t seem like much except that it comes on the back of some $53,000 last year, he said.

Other cuts include 40 percent from the district’s preschool, spending that had already been budgeted, which means the general fund has to absorb it.

Also, insurance costs are almost certain to increase in the wake of the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust folding. The bill for coverage may go up as much as $20,000 per year, and the district also probably will have to pay another $10,000 per year for the next 20 years to the trust. The exact amount is yet to be determined but the payments fulfill an assessment made to virtually every Kentucky public school district for what the trust says were underpayments during the life of the trust.

For the last three years the board has taken the legal maximum 4 percent property tax increase, and that has staved off some financial distress. The district would be in worse shape otherwise, Sharp said.

Sharp would not elaborate on where cuts should come from.

None of the budget projections are based on receipts from a 3 percent utilities tax the board enacted in December, because the levy probably will come to a vote in February and may be overturned, Sharp said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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