Superintendent's Blog: Investing in Paducah's Future
After requesting the compensating rate for 2015, in a working session with the board of education we explored the reasons to take a four percent increase in revenue for 2016. The General Fund tax levied in fiscal year 2015 was 77.1 cents. If the district decides in favor of a four percent increase, the proposed General Fund tax rate would go up to 80 cents. The potential increase would generate additional revenue of $243,365 in 2016.
That means that for a house that is assessed at $100,000, real property taxes would increase $29 per year, or $2.42 per month.
The additional revenue, if approved, would be allocated as follows: cost of collections, $20,000; building fund, $15,000; instruction, $168,365; transportation, $20,000; and maintenance of plant, $20,000.
Requesting an increase in revenue is not a step that is taken lightly, because I am aware that it reduces the amount that families in our community have available to spend on their own needs. However, I believe that the revenue increase is an investment by our community that is needed to meet the needs of our students.
State support for local districts has decreased over time, placing the responsibility on local school districts to make up the difference. According to The Council for Better Education (CBE), a consortium of 168 of Kentucky's 173 school districts, funding for Paducah schools is now roughly 54 percent from the state, and 46 percent from local revenues. Only five years ago, the ratio was 61 percent state and 39 percent local.
There have been multiple areas been hit by dwindling support from the state. For example:
• In 2014-15 the state paid only 59% of the total cost of student transportation.
• The state pays for only ½ day of kindergarten. Local districts like ours that choose to offer full day kindergarten were expected to pay costs and salaries associated with that. Additionally, there is a loss of revenue due to the state only funding a half day of kindergarten.
• The state mandated a pay raise for our employees of two percent in 2015-16, but only funded approximately half of the raise at the state level. The remainder of the money required to provide the raise must be raised at the local level. If you would like to explore the impact of diminished state funding on our local school districts, here is a link to a reprint of the Paducah Sun’s story from March 22, 2015, “Educators, Taxpayers Getting the Squeeze”.
The decrease in state and federal funding is the negative side of the funding equation, but there is a positive side too. We are exploring the possibility of seeking more revenue because we want to expand the opportunities that our students are offered in order to meet their educational needs. As we listened to parents, students, community partners and other stakeholders last year, one of the consistent messages we heard was the need to continue to build and increase the educational offerings we offer our students.
My son Harper just started kindergarten this week. In one sense Harper is blank slate as he begins his educational journey. He has arrived at Clark Elementary with innate talent and personality but those talents are latent and they await the right people and opportunities to help them grow and bloom. And of course there are many skills and areas of knowledge that he needs in order to be a capable adult.
What I want our schools to offer Harper, and to each and every student as they as they progress through our schools, is the opportunity to develop their talents, to cultivate and refine skills, and to explore their interests. Our goal for each and every child is that they find that intersection of talent, skill, and interest that will lead them to success in life.