Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:15PM - 155 Views
Cris Ritchie

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HAZARD — Officials with the Perry County Board of Education say a projected loss of enrollment will likely lead to a funding cut of at least $500,000 in the next school year.

District Finance Officer Jody Maggard last week discussed with the board the district’s draft budget, which he noted is in its early stages and will have to be submitted for board approval by Jan. 30 at the latest.

The draft budget includes the district’s basic finances and does not include items such as funding for federal programs. Maggard said he has begun working on the budget and looking at different projections, and as of last week he is projecting a significant cut in the district’s state funding, known as SEEK funds.

This type of funding is allocated by the Kentucky Department of Education based upon enrollment and attendance and represents the single biggest portion of the Perry County district’s revenue, to the tune of approximately $17 million annually. And though it’s early on in the draft budget process, Maggard noted, it’s looking likely that the district will have to make allowances for less funding next year.

“I’m confident that at a minimum, we will receive a $500,000 reduction in SEEK funding next year than what we’re currently receiving,” Maggard said, but he added that currently he’s projecting a decrease more in the neighborhood of $700,000.

Last year, the district received funding for an average daily attendance of 3,664 students. At present, Maggard said he estimates an ADA of 3,600 next year, or a loss of 64 students.

“Sixty-four students less is about $250,000 less in SEEK funding next year right off the top,” he continued.

Another significant piece of the budget for next year will be the district’s tax assessment. If property within the district is assessed at a higher value than at present, district officials can expect a decrease in SEEK funding as state officials will assume more local funding in the form of tax revenue will make up the difference.

On the other hand, Maggard added, assessments are an unknown quantity, and if they go down the district would receive more funds.

But again he cautioned that things are preliminary at present, and no decisions are being made as to what these reductions could mean in terms of cuts to schools or services.

“It’s very, very early in our draft budget stage,” he said, adding that there are also other unknowns, such as what moves the legislature might make once lawmakers return to Frankfort next month.

In other business, the board received a progress report from architect Melinda Joseph-Dezarn with Ross Tarrant, the firm overseeing construction of the new East Perry Elementary on Ky. 80 in Hazard.

This month’s rainfall has held up progress on the school’s athletics complex somewhat, and if the rain continues contractors may ask for an extension on the project, Joseph-Dezarn said, but added that the substantial complete date remains at June 30, 2013.

The board approved a pay application and purchase order for the project in the amount of $511,199, and a second pay application for the adjacent athletics complex in the amount of $116,735. Also approved was a revised change order to, among other things, extend utility conduits and cable on the site in the amount of $53,846.

The board also held a brief discussion on the future of the Dennis Wooton Elementary building, which East Perry will replace. Board member Debbie McIntosh noted that the district’s facilities committee had questions about what to do with the building once it is left vacant and students move to East Perry Elementary during the next school year.

“That building is very old, and if you wanted to use it for anything I think it would be very expensive to try to actually have it up to current code standards,” Joseph-Dezarn said.

McIntosh noted that once the district’s top facilities priorities are completed, there was some discussion about construction of a new baseball field at the site, which would necessitate demolishing the building.

Eventually, the board decided to look into the possibility of demolishing the building if it can be cost effective.

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