The Burgin Board of Education held their first meeting of 2018 last week. While it began sweet, with board members receiving sweets prepared by Burgin students attending the culinary program, it ended with a sober look at what may very well prove to be one of the most challenging years ever for Kentucky’s public schools.
The board approved a draft budget for the 2019 fiscal year. The draft is the first step towards creating a final budget, which will be submitted to the state in September. Making the draft was complicated because of the uncertainty surrounding school funding.
The General Assembly has not yet drafted a budget, but economists have projected a $156 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins June 30. On top of that, the state pension system faces a $27 billion shortfall. Schools have already been informed their contributions toward employee pensions will be increased.
As a result, Burgin has created two draft budgets, one based on higher pension spending and another based on current pension spending. Both budgets have $3.7 million in projected expenditures. The first option includes an 11.06 contingency fund while the second has a 13.19 contingency fund.
“There is so much turmoil,” said Donna Major, who commended the staff for having the draft budget ready. The school board will have a working session to go over the budget in February and another in April.
Major gave a progress report on another possible source of lost revenue for public schools: a push by the Kentucky General Assembly to provide income tax credits to “nonpublic schools.” Two proposed pieces of legislation—Senate Bill 36 and House Bill 134—would create an income tax credit that could be applied to tuition at a private school Major said she had contacted both of Mercer County’s legislators, Sen. Tom Buford, who told her he opposes the senate bill, and Rep. Kim King, whom she hasn’t heard back from.
SB 36 was introduced on Jan. 2 and was sent to the education committee. HB 134 was introduced on Jan. 4 and was sent to the appropriations and revenue committee.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.