The Richmond Register

Local News

January 6, 2014

Education funding to be key issue for legislators

FRANKFORT — Since 1990, Kentucky has been viewed as a leader in education reform, first with passage of the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990 and then with passage of Senate Bill 1 in 2009.

A key part of KERA was a new funding formula designed to comply with court rulings requiring “adequate and equitable” funding for all districts, using state money to boost poorer districts’ per pupil funding to a level roughly equal to the state’s richest districts.

Since 2009, basic funding for public schools, called SEEK, has been frozen while enrollment increased, producing an effective cut in per pupil funding of about $500. During the same period of tight state budgets, funding for teacher development has been cut 65 percent; after school services cut 61 percent; technology funding cut 21 percent and funding for textbooks eliminated.

Gov. Steve Beshear wants to change that in the next two-year budget. The Kentucky Department of Education is asking for an increase of $152 million next year and $183 million in the second year. But the state revenues are expected to rise by only $550 million over those two years and education isn’t the state’s only funding need.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, suggested that growing property valuations will allow local districts to increase their share of school funding to offset some of the needed increase, but others say that won’t work.

SEEK combines local property taxes with state funding in a complicated formula designed to “equalize” funding between rich and poor districts. Before KERA there were wide disparities between affluent districts which raised more in local taxes for schools and poor districts which were often loathe to raise property taxes. In the late 1980s, 61 districts sued and won a court decision throwing out the old system because the state constitution required funding for “common schools” to be equitable and adequate.

SEEK requires a “minimum local effort” to encourage poor districts to raise money for their schools. In return, the state funds the difference between those amounts and what richer districts can raise to produce roughly equal funding per pupil in all 173 districts. Every district receives sine state funding but poor districts receive a higher percentage of the total from the state.

Districts may raise additional funding beyond that minimal level if their voters approve higher tax rates. But the state doesn’t match all those extra dollars. KERA also “grandfathered” some rich districts with higher rates so they weren’t required to roll back local taxes.

When KERA was passed in 1990, the gap between the richest district and the poorest was $1,600 per student, primarily because of those grandfathered rates. By 1997, SEEK had reduced the gap to $600. But it is growing again as lawmakers froze SEEK funding at 2009 levels. In 2010, the gap was $1,200.

On Friday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said relying more on local property increases would lead to more inequity between districts, the situation which led the courts to declare Kentucky’s pre-KERA school funding system unconstitutional.

Property valuations have increased 2 percent statewide, said Hiren Desai, associate commissioner of education. But that is fueled largely by increases in affluent counties such as Boone, Kenton, Jefferson, Fayette and Warren. Valuations haven’t grown much in eastern Kentucky, which includes both Stivers’ and Stumbo’s legislative districts.

So a 4 percent increase in property taxes in Whitley County in Stivers’ senatorial district wouldn’t generate as much as a 4 percent increase in Kenton County.

An analysis of by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, based in Berea, lays out the differences for all 173 districts.

If all school districts raised local property taxes by 4 percent, the state’s most affluent district, Anchorage in Jefferson County, would receive about $457 more for each student. But Whitley County would have only $22 more per pupil, according to KCEP’s analysis.

The largest per pupil increase in any of the six counties in Stivers’ district would be $39 in Knox County and in Corbin. Wolfe County would get only $20 more per student.

Stivers said Friday those differences would be offset by the state portion of funding for those districts, but Jason Bailey, KCEP Director, said the amounts in the analysis are net changes including both state and local funds.

That’s because the SEEK formula ties state funding to local tax efforts, Bailey said. If local taxes exceed the minimally required local taxing effort, the state doesn’t chip in as much.

“If it weren’t designed that way, why would any district raise local taxes?” Bailey asked. “They’d just let the state provide the funding.”

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 7-29 Construction 1.jpg Water Street storm-water digging begins

    Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
    Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Steven Coffey.jpg Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea

    Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
    Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-27 Hops 1.jpg Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society

    Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-26 Stockyards 2.jpg Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’

    Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.

    At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.

    That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-26 Fire Practice Structure 1.jpg Fire training tower going up

    A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.

    Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pavement work to restrict I-75 in Rockcastle County

    Beginning Sunday until about the end of November, Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County will be reduced to one lane in each direction between mile points 58 and 66 for pavement work.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jailed woman charged with heroin trafficking

    A Richmond woman already jailed on another charge was served with a drug trafficking warrant Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results