SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt County Public Schools superintendent Keith Davis would be satisfied if the local districts were receiving the full funding they are entitled to by the state of Kentucky.
That is not happening. And there is some belief that school districts will be asked to accept a 4 percent funding cut on top of that.
However, the latest discussions in Frankfort seem to reveal that the school systems won’t be facing such drastic cuts.
Whether or not those cuts occur, Davis isn’t too concerned about the current school year. But he already had a plan in place if cuts do become a reality for the future.
In light of uncertainty over the budget situation, Davis said the district quickly put together a plan on how it would affect the system over the next few years.
Davis sent out an e-mail to thousands of parents and members of the community who are on his list to dispel some rumors and to let the public know exactly where the system is at financially.
“I want to be as transparent as possible,” said Davis. “The people need to know the situation.”
If the district would be cut 4 percent in its SEEK funding original discussed from the state, it would amount to over $1.7 million.
Finance director Denise Smith prepared a list of cost savings in an effort to cover the lost revenue.
For example, budgeted items such as utilities are projected to be $415,000 under the expected costs.
If the district does not replace vehicles and some maintenance work, another $361,261 could be saved.
If two current vacancies are not filled, another $72,838 could be saved.
By reducing the district’s contingency fund is reduced from 3.38 percent to 2.62 percent, another $906,481 would be available.
Davis said he doesn’t favor any of the reductions in purchases or filling vacancies.
He is worried that not purchasing buses or vehicles will ultimately throw off the current replacement schedule and would cost more in the future.
Davis is definitely opposed to reducing the contingency, which is mandated to be at least 2 percent by the state.
“We’re in good shape this year,” said Davis. “It’s after that that will be a concern.”
To save as much money as possible, Davis recently deferred payments of any non-essential items, such as vehicles and computers.
No layoffs are planned and Davis said those are things that will hurt the classroom learning.
In the long-term, Davis said there are some things the district is looking at. Those include:
*Increasing the class size by one in all grades. The county is normally several students under the state cap on class size.
Such a move could eliminate several classroom positions.
Eventually, Davis said this hurts the learning for students.
*Elimination of instructional personnel, including the tutors.
Davis said these are critical people who are helping students and teachers in instruction and technology.
*Elimination of a maintenance position, which would cause a longer delay in repairs done at the schools.
*Defer bus purchases, which Davis said would only cause more problems in the future.
*Freeze spending on new instructional and technology purchases.
This would reverse the work done in bringing more technology into the classes, said Davis.
*Eliminate resources to allow for the purchase of high school textbooks, which would result in the students renting or purchasing their own books.
Davis said he didn’t want anything to happen to stop the momentum being felt in the district.
He hopes that the economy will improve and he said Bullitt County is in much better shape than others due to the growth and the conservation spending over the years.
One thing that won’t be altered is the construction and renovation work throughout the county. Those funds are restricted and can only be used for construction work.
Since sending out the e-mail, Davis has had several suggestions on cost-cutting measures.
While some of the ideas were very good in theory, he didn’t think they would work in reality. But Davis appreciated the ideas and several could be implemented.
With so many other school districts talking about layoffs and other measures, Davis said he felt it was important to communicate with the parents about the true status of the Bullitt County system.
“We’ll be OK for this year,” said Davis. “We’ll make it but we’ll just have to watch our spending. We don’t want to do anything that would hurt the academic momentum we have going.”
Davis understands that Gov. Steve Beshear is not looking to cut the SEEK funds by 4 percent but he also knows that anything can happen as the economic situation in Kentucky doesn’t look to improve in the near future.
“We’ll be OK but we’ve already started to plan for future cuts,” said Davis. “We won’t be caught off-guard no matter what happens.”