The Richmond Register

Local News

March 22, 2013

Board members clash over timeline, urgency of budget decisions

For county schools

RICHMOND — When it adopted a “worst-case” scenario 2013-14 draft budget in January, which would draw $2.84 million from its $4.2 million reserve, some Madison County School Board members said the district was not doing enough to cut expenses.

“We keep avoiding having to face the issues of what to cut in order to bring our budget into balance,” board member John Lackey said at Thursday’s meeting.

Board chair Mona Isaacs said the district’s staff has been working on some proposals for cuts, which would be addressed in upcoming work sessions.

Just this week, Eastern Kentucky University’s regents approved a staff reduction plan, part of the university’s effort to cut its budget by 10 percent. Lackey said the school district should be on a similar track.

“Here we are, late March, and Eastern has already taken care of it,” Lackey said.

“We’re not Eastern,” replied Superintendent Tommy Floyd.

“Well, we should be like Eastern in that regard. This is way too late in the year. I have this feeling it’s more fun to go to Finland than it is to address these unpleasant decisions about cuts. Tells us what you’re doing. I’d like to know right now,” Lackey said.

Lackey was referring to Floyd’s recent trip to Finland, which was part of his doctoral studies in educational leadership. Payment of his $35,244 tuition, over three fiscal years, was included in Floyd’s employment contract. Travel expenses were included in the amount, said Erin Stewart, the district’s community education director.

“It is a pretty standard – not uncommon – practice for boards of education to pay tuition for advanced education for superintendents,” said Erin Stewart, the district’s community education director.

After Lackey’s comment about Floyd’s recent trip to Finland, Isaacs said, “I think that’s an unfair characterization. That’s very disrespectful.” Board member Becky Coyle agreed.

“It makes the point. I’m trying to be emphatic here,” Lackey said. “I’ve tried to be polite for many, many months and I don’t get any response … Nobody is willing to really give us hard facts and dollars about what’s going to be saved and what’s not going to be saved.

“If I have to make that kind of remark in order to get somebody’s attention, I’ve got to do it,” he said. “Come on, let’s hear something back Tom,” Lackey said to Floyd. “Where are the cuts going to be made?”

“We have said it several times – and you’re just making a show of yourself – we have work sessions planned to get these things under control, and you know that,” Coyle said. “That’s why we have all these meetings scheduled.”

But Lackey said a meeting about “goals” was unnecessary.

“But without a foundation of goals about what we’re trying to accomplish ...” Isaacs started to say until interrupted by Lackey.

“No, no, no,” he said. “The goals are in the vision and the mission statements of the school board and what everybody believes. We’ve got to turn out kids who can write a paragraph without a lot of grammatical errors. We’ve got to let them understand that they’ve got to be good citizens and stay out of juvenile court – those are the goals. We don’t need to spend a day talking about academic ideas.”

Isaacs said making financial decisions in the manner Lackey suggested was “irresponsible.”

“We are not just a business,” Isaacs said. “We are here to educate our students and make sure they contribute to the economic growth of this region. I firmly disagree with you ... we are not just a tax-collecting entity that has no other goals or mission than to cut our expenditures.”

“Yes, we know we need to cut expenditures,” she continued. “We will cut expenditures. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are a board of education, not a board of tax spenders.”

Lackey said he had a feeling the board was “a tax and spend group” that is not really interested in making cuts but would rather “talk about the good things we’re doing here instead of the harsh realities....”

“We want to talk in terms of, ‘Oh gosh, we need to be careful about kids who are at risk … build some more restrooms at Foley Middle School.’ That sort of thing is just wasting time to avoid making the hard decisions about the line items in the budget. That’s what we got to do,” he replied.

Earlier in the meeting, a mother with the Foley Middle School football boosters flanked by Foley’s football and baseball coaches, requested a locker room and storage facility be constructed closer to the school’s practice fields.

Smith said students must walk across parking lots “where high school students drive” to access restrooms in the locked school.

Players also do not have a place to take shelter during inclement weather, she said. And some coaches must haul the team’s equipment to every practice and store it in their own homes.  

“For the safety and well-being of our children, the satisfaction of our coaches, the decreased frustration from the parents and preservation of our equipment, we are asking the board to consider building a locker room area, bathroom facilities and equipment storage,” Smith said.

Floyd said he would contact the school’s principal the next day.  

After his last comment about the Foley request, Isaacs told Lackey, “I take offense to your characterization of what we’re trying to accomplish here.”

“I don’t know what ‘we’ is. I’m part of the ‘we’ – I think Mrs. Renfro agrees with me. I don’t know whether the rest of you do or not,” Lackey shot back. “You may be ones that like to characterize yourselves as fiscal conservatives but when it gets right down to making a cut and avoiding a tax increase, I don’t know what you’re going to do in all of this.”

Board member Mary Renfro did agree with Lackey, she said. “We do have to make cuts. I know we do, because we can’t push it back on the taxpayers.”

“But we can’t do it for show at a board meeting,” Coyle said. “We have to go to work sessions and look at reasons why we’re spending this money, and if we want to continue spending that money. We can’t just say it.”

Board member Beth Brock agreed.

“We need to look at those programs, the accomplishments, the goals of those programs and do our due diligence with this,” Brock said. “We can’t just willy-nilly start axing things. We have to do what’s best for our kids.”

Lackey suggested adding more budget meetings to the board’s schedule.

“We have at least 50-percent more meetings this year than we had in the past, set up just so we can do things like this,” Coyle said. “So, you might need a copy of that agenda.”

But Lackey said there were not enough meetings between now and August to accomplish the board’s task.

The board’s next work session is March 28 at 6 p.m. at Central Office.

Visit www.madison.

k12.ky.us under “Board of Education” for a complete list of upcoming meetings.

See Sunday’s Register for a second story about Thursday’s board meeting.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 7-29 YMCA-Schools.jpg YMCA, county district to provide after-school care

    The Telford YMCA is partnering with the Madison County School District to provide after-school child care for kindergarten and elementary students.
    YMCA Executive Director Dave Wallace and Madison County School Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the partnership Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Lucille May 1.jpg Memories bloom in May’s garden

    After realizing a story was being written about 96-year-old Lucille May, tenants of Willis Manor gathered in the lobby to share stories about her.
    Affectionately called “Mamaw” by other residents and workers at the apartment building, May has spent the four years of her residence transforming an outdoor garden that was overtaken by weeds. It’s now a thriving flowerbed, complete with interesting rocks, decorations and conversation.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • 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

AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short 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
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