Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 13, 2013

Preparation prevents panic: Carter schools in relatively good financial shape

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Feb. 13, 2013 — In the wake of last month's announcement that the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT) program would dissolve, and the uncertainty of possible funding cuts in the future, Carter Schools won't feel much of the heat.

That's according to Supt. Ronnie Dotson and Board Treasurer Andy Lyons.

KSBIT, the collective insurance group that many Kentucky school districts belong to, will dissolve at the end of the fiscal year – meaning that Carter schools will need to find a new insurance provider.

Lyons anticipates an additional $70,000-80,000 will be needed for a new provider.

KSBIT’s dissolution will also result in an unplanned financial liability for the county, as all program participants will be required to contribute funds to help pay down the approximately $60 million in liability that the program has accrued.

According to preliminary numbers released last week, Carter County's cut will be $271,999. Paid out over 20 or 30 years, the district will pay $19,000 to $32,000 each year. The decision of how to make the payment will ultimately be left up to the board of education.

A short-term issue is more worrisome. According to Lyons, the district has received about $600,000 less in property tax payments than it had at this time last year.

“And that may just come in later,” Dotson said. “We aren't really sure if people haven't made their payments to the sheriff's office, or if it's being held for some reason.”

Even with that in mind, property tax revenue is only a small portion of the district's operating budget. Carter County gets 85 percent of its revenue from the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funds.

Calculations for the 2013-14 school year project just over $21.5 million for Carter County, which is down slightly from $21.7 million in 2012-13.

Even with those numbers, Lyons and Dotson don't seem phased.

“We are operating with less funding now than we did six years ago,” Lyons said. “But our projects are on target for this fiscal year.”

“We cut back a million dollars last year,” Dotson said. “We currently have half a million in savings and are looking at a much smaller loss this year.”

Last year, a million dollar budget reduction was handled mostly through retirement, a system that was implemented several years ago to anticipate a financial crisis.

“Over the last few years we have cut staff,” Dotson said. “We aren't going to make any changes to our teacher allocation formulas this coming year.”

The Board of Education will vote on the 2013-14 budget in May. Last year's total budget for the district was just over $42 million.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.