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Given the school board’s choice last year to keep the tax rate flat, Anderson County High School teachers will be lucky to get a salary step increase next fall, Finance Officer Nick Clark warned the school board.
Clark, who presented next year’s draft budget to the school board during its meeting Monday night, said without a tax increase, the board may be only able to give teachers a salary step increase, minus last year’s 1 percent raise.
“Without that tax increase, my hands are tied,” Clark said, adding that the district would be lucky to get the salary step increase for teachers next school year.
Back in July 2012, the school board approved a salary step increase, based on a teacher’s years teaching and experience, and a 1 percent raise for the district’s teachers in the effort to keep salaries competitive with other Kentucky school districts.
The $22 million draft budget includes about $359,000 in salary and benefits expenses for 2013-2014, with total payroll accounting for 80.16 percent of the board’s budget.
At $5.52 per $1,000 assessed value, the current school district’s tax rate brought in $8.072 million in revenue for 2012-2013, an increase of about $130,000 over last year thanks to an increase in assessed property values and Wild Turkey’s distillery expansion, according to Anderson News reports.
Clark, who said he met with the budget committee two weeks prior to the Jan. 29 meeting, said about $53,000 has been set aside under the site-based decision making council budget for instruction to purchase textbooks for next fall. Clark said he kept about $200,000 toward purchasing two more school buses as well.
In terms of state funding, Support Education Excellence in Kentucky or SEEK is now down to levels from about four years ago, Clark said, with the district losing about $294,000 to start off fall 2013.
After so-called fiscal cliff funding was passed earlier this year, the district may see as much 10 percent in cuts for some of its federal programs, Clark said, which may affect the board’s general fund.
The district’s contingency fund will also be taking a hit, dropping from 6.29 to 2.13 percent, a few points higher than the 2 percent contingency fund minimum required by the state.
Board member Roger McDowell, concerned about the decrease in contingency, asked how much money would need to be brought in to keep levels at 5-6 percent.
Clark said the board would need about $900,000 in additional funds for the 2013-2014 school year to bring contingency back to where the fund was this Christmas.
With the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust or KSBIT dissolving its deficit-ridden agency earlier this month, Clark said the school district may be need to contribute a portion of the $50-60 million in liabilities now the burden of school districts across the state.
Despite the fact that the district has not purchased insurance through KSBIT in more than 15 years, Clark said, the board may still be accountable for what it purchased in the past from the agency.
According to a statement from the Kentucky Department of Education, about 174 public school districts will be affected by KSBIT’s deficit, with the state department waiting on the final amount of assessments from the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky School Boards Association.
According to Clark, it is unknown how much each school district, Anderson County included, will be required to pay.
“What that amount is going to be, I don’t know,” Clark said.
KSBIT was responsible for covering school districts, colleges and universities for risks ranging from school bus accidents to compensation for sick and injured employees, according to a news release from the Kentucky Department of Education.
The draft budget figures, of course, are subject to change, Clark said, and he said he hopes they change for the better.
A tentative budget will be completed in May, and with the school board’s approval, sent to the Kentucky Department Education to be reviewed.
A final working budget will come before the board for vote and approval in September.
“We’ve got some difficult decisions to sit down and make,” Clark said.
The January board meeting was the first time new school board chairman James Sargent led the proceedings with Scott Brown as vice chairman and Donna Drury as the new board member, replacing Steve Higgins.
reports on security update
Sgt. Greg Boblitt of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office reported on the school safety surveys and lockdown procedures being conducted across the district over the last several weeks.
Boblitt said each school has been in good shape procedure-wise, and Director of Student Services Derek Shouse said he appreciated how law enforcement has let school officials and staff into the process. Shouse said he hopes to conduct about two to four intruder drills annually at each school.
Last Tuesday morning was the last day for safety assessments performed with the help of state and local law enforcement.
“We yield to the experts,” Shouse said. “This is what they do for a living.”
Shouse he’s received a lot of recommendations about school safety, but the district will need to look at what is most cost-effective, and what can be done right now to make students as safe as possible.
Mitchell recognized the accomplishments of Anderson County High School student Nathan Bentley. Bentley recently placed second at a KACTE Entrepreneurship event for his business plan presentation for Bentley Buildings Company.
Mitchell also recognized school board members in recognition of the 18th annual School Board Recognition Month, which acknowledges the work of more than 872 board members across the state during the month of January.