Greenup budget

LLOYD Expecting less state funding and increases in pension obligations, the Greenup County School District’s tentative budget for 2019-2020 pares about $1.3 million in spending and revenue compared to the current year.

Shrinking enrollment and state mandates to pay more of employee retirement costs are the culprits in a budget district business manager Rebecca Fyffe calls “conservative, but not bare-bones.”

The $26.1 million spending plan, which will be revised later this year, anticipates a decrease of up to $400,000 in state funding, which is based on the number of students in school. The district is anticipating about 90 fewer students and the state’s funding formula pays about $4,000 per student.

“It’s a very large cut,” said interim superintendent Traysea Moresea, warning that the figures remain unsettled and subject to later revision. “We’re trying to find ways to manage without taking away from staff.”

The district will continue to find savings by chipping away at underused resources, she said.

The state will release tentative funding allocations in September, allowing the district to better estimate the full impact of the reduction, Fyffe said.

The majority of spending — about 60 percent — consists of salaries and benefits, which come to about $16 million.

The budget includes a 2.58 percent increase in its payments into support staff retirement. “It was expected, but it’s still a pretty big hit to the budget,” Fyffe said. The amount is expected to increase again in future budget years, she said.

It also includes payments on three new buses purchased as part of the district’s rotating bus replacement program.

It accounts for two additional teacher hires. Where the teachers will be assigned has not been determined, she said.

A modest increase in property tax collections — about $150,000 — is built into the spending plan. That estimated amount could go higher; which was the case in the previous budget year, she said.

The base SEEK amount is higher by a few dollars per student than in the previous state budget cycle, but when cuts to other programs are factored in, schools are left with less money, Moresea said. The state budget cut funding for textbooks, professional development for teachers, and after-school programs.

“What they did give us didn’t come close to measuring up to what they took away,” she said.

Schools are working harder to educate an increasingly diverse student population with a wider range of needs, Moresea said.

“We need education to be funded. One of the key components of democracy is to have well-educated citizens . . . we cannot continue to take these cuts,” Moresea said.

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Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.