In Mar. 20-26 issue
By Greg Wells
Times Journal Managing Editor
ABOVE - Russell County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner tells the Russell County school board members about the planned warning sirens for the county.
JAMESTOWN - Russell County School Supt Scott Pierce told the board that the school year will end June 4th this year.
He said the previous plan the administration had put together to make up the missed days of school was rejected by Frankfort.
"We will be out of school on Good Friday and we will be out of school on Memorial Day and we will be having Spring Break," Pierce told the staff and the media in the audience.
He said during Monday night's board meeting that the state also requires schools to be closed for election day on May 20 and he explained that too many families had plans for the spring break holiday to cancel it.
There was considerable deliberation among the board members regarding a request by Mickey Garner, the county's judge-executive.
Garner brought a proposal to the board that they purchase two emergency warning sirens for the schools. These are to be purchased with the other 4 the county has committed to purchasing and the 6 others which he said they have contracts with businesses and other county entities to purchase.
After some discussion the board agreed to purchase two, which would have to be placed on school property and with the provision that the board's attorney could get approval from Frankfort that such an agreement was allowed.
Unlike the 4-year plan others participating have to pay off the sirens which the county will borrow money to purchase, the board agreed to a 6-year plan allowed by Garner.
After the meeting Superintendent Pierce said it was likely the district would not have to pay for the sirens out of local tax money because the funds can probably come from state construction funds the schools already have on-hand.
In budget news the district finished last month with $8.8 million, including state construction funds for projects planned and underway.
The budget the administration is working through for the next fiscal year increased, Pierce advised the board.
It had been $19.1 million for the 08-09 fiscal year, but Pierce said the new figure is $19.3 million.
"We feel we just can't keep it below that figure," Pierce said.
Pierce has explained before that districts across Kentucky are searching for more money as mandated teacher raises from the General Assembly have not been paid for by that body and the burden of that increase along with rising fuel and food costs are taxing local budgets.
This fiscal year local tax collections, including for automobiles and water craft, for the local schools were $4,107,868.31 this current fiscal year said Property Valuation Administrator Rodney Owens.
He said that of that money $3.5 million was from taxes on real property and the rest was the vehicle and water craft assessment. Owens also added that though the sheriff's department collects a high percentage of the property taxes assessed each year there is always some difference between what is assessed and how much is collected.
Assessments have been going up every year because of increases in the value of property and homes in the county, Owens said. He explained that even at the same tax rate as the previous year that makes for an increase in all local budgets, but that increase is capped.
State law allows about a 4-percent increase in property tax receipts for most taxing entities in the state from one year to the next in the tax levy without a vote by taxpayers.
The remainder of the district's funds come from state budgeted allocations, and at present only the house has passed a budget and the senate leadership has indicated they are not pleased with the house bill.
There are some concerns that a special session may be necessary to complete the budget since the last day for the General Assembly to work on bills is April 1. After that day they can only address bills vetoed by the governor and must adjourn on the 15th of April.
The last day for either side to consider new bills was March 6 and they can only work on bills which have been passed in different versions by the house and senate on March 31 and April 1.
The longer it takes for the General Assembly to bring a budget to the governor the longer the school districts across the state will be in limbo regarding how to fund local schools in the coming year.
In other matters before the board—
• Regarding construction in the district the board approved the more than $802,000 option 2 for the swimming pool in the Auditorium - Natatorium which is presently under construction in front of the middle school on U.S. 127.
After the meeting Pierce explained that the option chosen was somewhat more expensive than the alternative but would save money in the long run.
He explained that they chose not to use gas and opted for only electric heat in the building and the pool because it would cost less over time.
• Additional roof drains were added to the construction plan for that building and two bills for work completed in the middle school's renovation were approved for payment.
• Trip requests were approved including the Navy ROTC's trip to the national competition in Florida, for which the board agreed to provide the bus and pay for the fuel.
• The board also approved advertising for bids for supplies in the coming school year.