SHEPHERDSVILLE - Superintendent Keith Davis did not need to see a report released last week about the shrinking education funds in Kentucky.
But the newly-formed Kentucky Education Action Team is sending a strong message to legislators that additional state money is needed to restore funding to the 2008 levels.
"Even before 2008, the percent of the state budget going to education had been in a steady decline since 1990, mostly due to demands for funding for corrections and Medicaid," said Davis.
He said textbook funding was inadequate 10 years ago and now there is no funding from the state.
In figures compiled by Denise Smith, district finance director, the funding adjusted for inflation per pupil from the state in 2011 had dropped from $3,990 per pupil to $3,541.
That $449 per pupil decrease amounts to over $5.25 million a year, according to Smith.
There is talk of another 7-9 percent budget cut.
To attempt to provide a united effort, KEAT was formed. Members include the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, the Kentucky Association of School Councils, the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, the Kentucky Parent-Teacher Association, the Prichard Committee, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky School Boards Association.
"I think the KEAT group, composed of every education focused group, will be effective in educating the public and legislators on the funding issue but the lack of state revenue is the issue," said Davis.
To make education important, Davis said more funding would be needed and state officials have to decide how to go that.
"If not, we need to understand that there will be consequences for an entire generation of Kentucky children."
Smith outlined some of the funding cuts in the past three years. They include:
*Extended School Services - reduction of $383,656
*Safe Schools - reduction of $81,883
*Textbooks - reduction of $415,351
*Professional Development - reduction of $204,186
*Gifted/Talented - reduction of $4,924
Besides the cuts, the district faces new unfunded mandates
While well-intentioned, Davis said the legislators are imposing new things with no money to back it up with.
This results in less services being provided the students, Davis said of the lack of funding.
Outgoing board chairmember Dolores Ashby said that it was great that the collaboration of organizations would be a "great step toward education having a unified voice concerning the cuts to education. Yes, cuts to education."
"School districts cannot do their job of preparing our students for college and careers with the constant cuts in funding," added Ashby. "The state continues to mandate programs and change policy without providing the funds to implement the programs."
For Bullitt Central High youth service center coordinator Tonia Wiggins, the cuts since 2009 have been substantial.
"I was funded at $91,000 and am currently receiving $81,000," she said. "With the decreases, programs and services have to decrease as well. I have already decreased by assistant's hours."
Davis said the district is also required to maintain a 2 percent contingency fund or face the possibility of state management.
A recent draft budget for next year showed the 2 percent contingency but Davis said it really needs to be higher. Unforeseen issues such as rising fuel costs or mid-year cuts from Frankfort could quickly cause the emergency funds to dry up.
With the General Assembly currently in session, KEAT is expected to be busy trying to lobby for more funding in the next budget cycle.