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Budget crunching

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By Brad Bowman

Henry County Superintendent Tim Abrams wants all students to have the same starting line when it comes to education.

The Henry County Public School Board’s budget hasn’t changed much from the tentative budget set a few months ago. That budget projects this year’s revenue to be down by $711,083.

The three main factors for this decrease: 3.4 percent decrease in state general fund revenue, a 27.9 percent decresease in federal general fund revenue, and a 60 percent in other reciepts, according to Abrams.

“The state hasn’t cut funding for education, but it can be misleading,” Abrams said. “The state general fund is down with a  lower base value per pupil. In 2011 and 2012 we received $3,903 per pupil, now that attendance continues to increase statewide we receive the same money but it’s based off of last year’s attendance. This year we are receiving $3,833 for 2012 and 2013 which is roughly $70 per day per pupil.”

Two other factors decreasing the state general fund: lower end of the year daily attendance rate at Henry County Public Schools. The average daily attendance of 1,970 in 2011 to 2012 compared to 2,004 students in 2010 to 2011 decreases state money. The other factor was a higher property value assessment than what was expected. The higher assessment on local property meant less money from the state.

According to a study conducted by School Management Associates in 2011, from 2000 to 2010 the districts population increased by a small amount: 356 people. The growth in the county is below the whole state. Surrounding county districts like Carroll, Gallatin and Trimble had a larger growth in number of children who attended school with Oldham County having the highest growth. The closest in lack of growth was Owen County.

The study also looked at economic health of families with children and used data from the Kentucky Youth Advocates publication Kentucky Kids Count 2010 edition. Children living in poverty in 2000 to 2008 in Henry County reached 33.1 percent compared to 14 percent as whole for the entire state. Gallatin County had the highest at 39.6 percent. The county’s poverty rate affects Abrams approach to his students’ education.

“I want everyone to be on the same starting line,” Abrams said. “We have a full day of kindergarten and we offer a full day preschool to all eligible students who meet the poverty line criteria. What we are seeing are those kids who go to preschool are exceeding their more affluent fellow students.”

Abrams said the district has made a great financial commitment to early childhood education and it is paying off. Henry County is one of the few districts in the state to offer full day preschool despite being funded for a half day.

“We spend $619, 846 a year for preschool,” Abrams said. “This is the star in our crown. Kindergarten is costing the district about $500,000. If I went back to half day, I would save $200,000. Still it wouldn’t be educationally sound. We tighten in our staffing to do this. It’s easier to get these kids off with a great educational foundation now in early childhood than later when they are in high school.”

Another initiative to combat the problems students face in high school and middle school is the district’s Center for Educational Options program.

The alternative education program provides an alternative for students who had difficulties in the traditional school program.

“Bill Webb runs our alternative education program. I am biased but I think it is one of the best programs in the state,” Abrams said. “We don’t sentence our kids to alternative school. Whether it is a discipline problem or grade problem if they are referred by a teacher or parent they get interviewed to see if they truly want to learn and many students who would’ve otherwise dropped out of school have graduated because of this program.”

Students do some coursework online and are instructed by teachers in a one room school house type setting.

The majority of those students will not leave here, they will stay here and be productive citizens of our community,” Abrams said. “It’s an initiative we don’t have to do, but it is good for the community and our students. It costs us $200,000 and that is why funding is so important to schools.”

Abrams said despite reductions the district has maintained an unrestricted reserve of $2.2 million, a 12.9 percent contingency, of the 2012 – 2013 working budget. The district will use $525,299 of its reserves.

Abrams said other factors will help the district in the future.

“New Castle Elementary and Henry County High School are Energy Star classified buildings. We constantly stress saving energy in our schools,” Abrams said. “I sent out a notice to remind our schools to unplug appliances during our fall break. The district saved almost $27,000 last year and the board just issued a request for an energy savings contract for more savings in the future.”

In a report, Abrams stressed that the Henry County Board of Education will focus on managing staff as personnel costs make up 81 percent of the general fund budget.

“We were able to cut five teaching positions and an instructional assistant position,” Abrams said. “These were through attrition we didn’t pink slip anyone and these positions will save the district over $200,000. You have to stay on top of your staffing. Many districts who have to let their teachers go not out of attrition will most likely realize they were overstaffed to begin with and it just caught up with them.”

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com

Henry County Superintendent Tim Abrams wants all students to have the same starting line when it comes to education.

The Henry County Public School Board’s budget hasn’t changed much from the tentative budget set a few months ago. That budget projects this year’s revenue to be down by $711,083.

The three main factors for this decrease: 3.4 percent decrease in state general fund revenue, a 27.9 percent decresease in federal general fund revenue, and a 60 percent in other reciepts, according to Abrams.

“The state hasn’t cut funding for education, but it can be misleading,” Abrams said. “The state general fund is down with a  lower base value per pupil. In 2011 and 2012 we received $3,903 per pupil, now that attendance continues to increase statewide we receive the same money but it’s based off of last year’s attendance. This year we are receiving $3,833 for 2012 and 2013 which is roughly $70 per day per pupil.”

Two other factors decreasing the state general fund: lower end of the year daily attendance rate at Henry County Public Schools. The average daily attendance of 1,970 in 2011 to 2012 compared to 2,004 students in 2010 to 2011 decreases state money. The other factor was a higher property value assessment than what was expected. The higher assessment on local property meant less money from the state.

According to a study conducted by School Management Associates in 2011, from 2000 to 2010 the districts population increased by a small amount: 356 people. The growth in the county is below the whole state. Surrounding county districts like Carroll, Gallatin and Trimble had a larger growth in number of children who attended school with Oldham County having the highest growth. The closest in lack of growth was Owen County.

The study also looked at economic health of families with children and used data from the Kentucky Youth Advocates publication Kentucky Kids Count 2010 edition. Children living in poverty in 2000 to 2008 in Henry County reached 33.1 percent compared to 14 percent as whole for the entire state. Gallatin County had the highest at 39.6 percent. The county’s poverty rate affects Abrams approach to his students’ education.

“I want everyone to be on the same starting line,” Abrams said. “We have a full day of kindergarten and we offer a full day preschool to all eligible students who meet the poverty line criteria. What we are seeing are those kids who go to preschool are exceeding their more affluent fellow students.”

Abrams said the district has made a great financial commitment to early childhood education and it is paying off. Henry County is one of the few districts in the state to offer full day preschool despite being funded for a half day.

“We spend $619, 846 a year for preschool,” Abrams said. “This is the star in our crown. Kindergarten is costing the district about $500,000. If I went back to half day, I would save $200,000. Still it wouldn’t be educationally sound. We tighten in our staffing to do this. It’s easier to get these kids off with a great educational foundation now in early childhood than later when they are in high school.”

Another initiative to combat the problems students face in high school and middle school is the district’s Center for Educational Options program.

The alternative education program provides an alternative for students who had difficulties in the traditional school program.

“Bill Webb runs our alternative education program. I am biased but I think it is one of the best programs in the state,” Abrams said. “We don’t sentence our kids to alternative school. Whether it is a discipline problem or grade problem if they are referred by a teacher or parent they get interviewed to see if they truly want to learn and many students who would’ve otherwise dropped out of school have graduated because of this program.”

Students do some coursework online and are instructed by teachers in a one room school house type setting.

The majority of those students will not leave here, they will stay here and be productive citizens of our community,” Abrams said. “It’s an initiative we don’t have to do, but it is good for the community and our students. It costs us $200,000 and that is why funding is so important to schools.”

Abrams said despite reductions the district has maintained an unrestricted reserve of $2.2 million, a 12.9 percent contingency, of the 2012 – 2013 working budget. The district will use $525,299 of its reserves.

Abrams said other factors will help the district in the future.

“New Castle Elementary and Henry County High School are Energy Star classified buildings. We constantly stress saving energy in our schools,” Abrams said. “I sent out a notice to remind our schools to unplug appliances during our fall break. The district saved almost $27,000 last year and the board just issued a request for an energy savings contract for more savings in the future.”

In a report, Abrams stressed that the Henry County Board of Education will focus on managing staff as personnel costs make up 81 percent of the general fund budget.

“We were able to cut five teaching positions and an instructional assistant position,” Abrams said. “These were through attrition we didn’t pink slip anyone and these positions will save the district over $200,000. You have to stay on top of your staffing. Many districts who have to let their teachers go not out of attrition will most likely realize they were overstaffed to begin with and it just caught up with them.”

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com