Lincoln Co. School Board approves property tax increase, hiring of emergency certified teachers

Published 11:17 am Thursday, September 20, 2018

STANFORD — The Lincoln County School Board has approved a property tax increase.

The local board voted unanimously Thursday to approve a 4-percent increase, or 53.5-cent property tax for every $100 of assessed property value.

With no one on hand to question or oppose the increase during a public hearing, the board voted after a recommendation from Lincoln County School Superintendent Michael Rowe.

“My recommendation, like I said in our last meeting, is for them to take the 4-percent increase,” he said. “Some folks will have to pay more because the value of property has gone up. But we’re also at the place that we need every cent we can get. The increase will result in an additional $223,000-plus for the district, so that’s my recommendation.”

The property tax increase is expected to generate an increase of $223,058 in revenue.

During the meeting, the board also reviewed the 2018-19 working budget for the school district based on the tax increase. The contingency fund is budgeted at $1,534,798, which is 4 percent of the budget. The Kentucky Department of Education requires a minimum 2 percent contingency fund.

“So, we look good right now. So, we don’t have to get into the contingency fund,” board member Theresa Long asked of Rowe.

Rowe’s response to Long’s question was both a ‘No’ and a ‘Yes’ answer.

“No, but we’re afraid that somewhere along the way … there is a possibility we might have to this year,” he said. “Other times we kind of knew that we were in good shape. If there is an emergency, we might have to tap into it. But that’s why we have the contingency fund.”

Salary increases in the budget only include step and rank change. Total salary and benefits make up 78.2 percent of the general fund budget. Actual salary and benefits for 2017-18 was 77.3 percent and actual for 2016-17 was 70.3 percent.

Payroll cuts include: 3-hour per day transportation clerk; one maintenance position; and administrative positions at Fort Logan High School.

The budget includes funding for the following:

Textbooks $100,000

Athletics $66,400

Senior Diplomas $3,000

Perkins Allocation $20,000

Instructional Field Trips $18,575

KSBIT Payoff $42,244

Security Resource Officer $50,000

Technology Upgrades $35,650

LCHS Band $3,000

In other discussion, Rowe went over the enrollment numbers for the start of the 2018-19 school year. He noted that the average daily attendance was down 133 students district wide.

All the county schools except Stanford Elementary showed a decrease in attendance, and Rowe attributed part of that to the addition of the Early Childhood Center at the school. All of the elementary schools, other than Stanford, have an enrollment below 300.

Rowe said allocations were made at each of the schools due to the lower enrollment. The dip under 300 affects such things as music teachers, physical education teachers, psychologists, guidance counselors and librarians. With the lower number, a school will get less than previously allocated.

The daily attendance breakdown by school, with decrease or increase shown in parentheses, is: Crab Orchard Elementary – 272 (-7); Fort Logan (High school closed in December 2017) – 16 (-152); Highland Elementary – 248 (-7); Hustonville Elementary – 297 (-6); Lincoln County High School – 1,072 (-9); Lincoln County Middle School – 856 (-15); McKinney Elementary – 147 (-1); Stanford Elementary – 616 (+93); Waynesburg Elementary – 265 (-29); District wide – 3,789 (-133).

Attendance is not the only number down in the Lincoln County School system, with certified teachers badly needed in some areas. With several teaching positions still open, Personnel & Human Resources Coordinator Jeannie Cooper approached the board seeking permission to hire emergency certified teachers.

“We’re at the same place we were in last year. We had to do this last year,” she said. “Without us doing the approval for the hire of all emergency certified teachers in critical shortage areas, it inhibits our ability to fill the slots in a timely basis because we have to wait on the board meeting to send the application off to EPSB. So, for the critical shortage areas, we’re asking that you allow us to hire emergency certified teachers in those areas to fill those slots up pretty quickly.”

Cooper noted that science teachers at the high school and some preschool positions are among those critical shortage areas. She said that approving the hiring would allow her to fill those positions now and as needed.

“If there are any more openings, this allows me to fill those slots with emergency certified people If we can’t find certified people to fill the slots,” she said.
Cooper said that people can only be emergency certified for one year.