News Digest, Dec. 6, 2013

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By The Staff

Shelby’s unemployment

rose slightly in October

Shelby County’s unemployment rate rose slightly in October but remains among the lowest in the state, based on figures released Thursday by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

Shelby County’s rate was 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent in September and 6 percent in October 2012.

That was good enough to tie for the ninth best rate. Woodford County has the lowest rate at 6.1 percent, which was up slightly as rates rose year-over-year in 96 counties.

Grant County had the second-best rate, at 6.2 percent, followed by Fayette and Scott at 6.4, Boone, Daviess and Oldham at 6.5, Carlisle County at 6.6; and Shelby, Spencer and Webster at 6.7.

Leslie County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate, at 18 percent.

Among other counties surrounding Shelby, Anderson and Franklin were at 7.1 percent, Jefferson at 7.8 and Henry at 9.7.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.

Holliday predicts teacher layoffs

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said that hundreds of teachers could be laid off in the spring if the General Assembly does not restore school funding cuts.

Kentucky school districts have "a perfect storm" coming, Holliday said at a meeting Wednesday of the Kentucky Board of Education.
"By next March or April, we predict 10 to 12 districts will fail to meet their basic financial commitment and we will see pink slips like we've never seen before," Holliday told The Herald-Leader in Lexington.

Afterward, Holliday said that if money is not restored to 2008-09 levels, "we've done about all we can do with attrition....We are going to see teacher layoffs."

First, hundreds of teacher and teacher assistant positions will be lost to federal sequestration — cuts to federal programs that affect schools, he said. Holliday estimated another 1,000 teachers will be lost next year due to inadequate state funding. The board and Kentucky Department of Education officials are asking the General Assembly for an estimated $336 million in fiscal years 2015-16.
In part, the state Board of Education's request addresses SEEK funding, the primary source of funding for school districts. SEEK accounts for about $2.9 billion a year and is used for everything from instruction in classrooms to school bus maintenance. School officials have said the total amount of SEEK funds has remained flat, but the number of students and the attendance has increased, meaning the amount of funding per student has gone down from $3,866 per student in 2009 to $3,827 per student this year.

Educators are asking for $150 million over two years to restore SEEK funding to 2009 levels. Flexible focus funds — which include textbooks, preschool, extended school services, safe schools and staff professional development — also need to be restored to 2008 levels, officials said. Those funds dropped from $154 million in 2008 to $93 million this year.
Included in the request is $122 million to restore flexible focus grants.


Comer touts banner year

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer hailed a banner year for Kentucky agriculture and laid out a vision of effective government that works with the private sector in his annual State of Kentucky Agriculture address Thursday at Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 94th annual meeting in Louisville.

“While other industries are struggling in a tough economy, the state of agriculture in Kentucky is outstanding,” Comer said, pointing out that Kentucky crops are achieving record yields and production, horse sales are booming, and beef cattle and poultry are building on a strong year in 2012.
Comer’s speech followed a presentation by University of Kentucky agricultural economists who said that farm cash receipts from the sale of agriculture and forestry products could approach or even exceed $6 billion in 2013.

Comer mentioned that a UK study published last summer said the commonwealth’s equine industry generates $3 billion in economic activity and more than 40,000 Kentucky jobs.

Dunns to address Rotary

Karen and Roger Dunn of Angel Fleece Alpaca Farm and their farm coordinator, Rommie Smith, will present the program for the Shelbyville Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Rotary meets at noon at the Centenary United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Washington and 5th streets in Shelbyville. Programs are open to the public, but there is a nominal charge for the meal.


SBDM council meetings

  • Heritage’s Site-Based Decision-Making Council will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday for its regular monthly meeting in the conference room. 
  • Wright Elementary’s SBDM will meet at 4 p.m. Dec. 17 for its regular monthly meeting in the media center.
  • Collins High School’s SBDM will meet at 4 p.m. Dec. 18 for its regular monthly meeting in the conference room.

Roadwork, closings:

  • Interstate 64:Lane closures and delays are possible from the Welcome Center to half-mile east of KY 55 (mile points 27.9 to 32.8) because of roadway widening. Lane closures are possible Sunday through Friday from 7 p.m. each evening until 5 the following morning and on Saturdays from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sundays. A 12-foot width restriction is in place for the eastbound lanes of I-64 in this work zone.
  • KY 1848:Shoulder closures and construction delays possible at the I-64 interchange (mile points 4.6 to 6.4) because of roadway widening. One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction. The speed limit is reduced to 35 MPH in the work zone.


The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.