Facing financial woes, the Harlan Independent Board of Education met on Thursday where they approved a $370,000 cut in their budget. Superintendent David Johnson said this is approximately 7.5 percent of their entire district budget.
“I think we’re all aware of the financial situation the state of Kentucky is in and how it’s now trickling down to school districts,” said Johnson. “At this point, the SEEK funding for next year for our district will be reduced. It’s been reduced all across the state per student. We’re also faced with a situation other school districts are now facing and that is the loss of federal stimulus money. As a result of that, we’re looking at a potential reduction in funding for the general fund of approximately $370,000.”
Johnson said as more information comes in and they have more “firmer data” on their financial situation, other decisions will have to be made.
“Another problem we could potentially face next year, as well, is the federal government in its efforts to deal with its budget impasse last year, passed a stipulation that if the budget super committee couldn’t come up with a plan as of Jan.1, 2013 there will be an approximate 9.1 or 9.2 reduction in federal funding,” said Johnson. “That would affect our Title I Special Education funds and that’s true for every district in the nation. We won’t know how that’s going to play out until they resolve that.”
Johnson said the school district may be able to come back and make adjustments once they have a better idea of their financial situation.
“The $370,000 reduction is about 7.5 percent of our entire district budget,” said Johnson. “It’s a significant reduction. This is preliminary. As we approach the end of the year we’ll have a better idea of what our funding will be. The legislature just finished and we’re just now starting to get information on what the state budget is going to look like and what they’re allocating for schools. There are grants we don’t know about at this point, so, there’s still some outstanding information we’re going to need that we just haven’t gotten yet.”
Johnson said overall, they’ve had a decrease in ADA funding, just as every district in southeastern Kentucky has.
“We’re all losing students so we have a decline in ADA,” said Johnson. “That’s coupled with a decrease in what the state is giving per student. This year it was $3,850 per child, next year it’s going to be $3,833 and the year after that it will go down again to $3,827. At the state level they didn’t change the total amount of money they put into SEEK, but what happened is there are more kids involved. It’s like having a pie, you divide it into four pieces then someone else comes in and the pie doesn’t get any larger, but the pieces become smaller and smaller as more people come in.”
Johnson said it seems much of the funding put into place to support some of the successful programs put in with the reform back in the 1990s is now being dismantled.
“Funding for support services like tutoring and after school help for students has been cut drastically and we haven’t had money for textbooks for several years,” said Johnson. “Money for teacher training has been cut drastically and this is at a time when we’re being asked to implement more and more reform efforts with new curriculum, new standards, new assessments and a new accountability system. With all these cuts it’s just making it more and more difficult to make ends meet. I’m hoping the legislature will soon look at ways to provide some additional funding into education, because it’s badly needed and we’re reaching a point it’s having a significant impact in schools.”
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