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Shelby County School Board: Board expected to keep tax rate is flat

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Neihof’s recommendation for no increase in property tax to be taken up Aug. 28

By Lisa King

For the second straight year it appears that the Shelby County Board of Education will not change its property tax rate.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Neihof recommended keeping the rate the same, and board members agreed. Though there wasn’t much discussion, board member Karen Sams said she thought it was a good idea, as did board member Eddie Mathis.

“Two years ago this month, we set the budgeting goal of reducing our expenditures so that I would be able to recommend the compensating rate to you last year at this time,” Neihof told the board. “To that end, you adopted the budget committee’s recommendation to reduce expenditures by nearly two million dollars that year.”

Neihof justified his recommendation, saying the county is in better shape this year, with property values increasing slightly for the first time in many years.

“This allows you to have the option of sustaining current local funding levels without a change in the tax rate.”

At a previous meeting, board members briefly discussed the possibility that the tax rate would remain flat, and expressed approval for that.

“For some, they will be very appreciative of that, for others, that’s not enough; there will probably be some that will want it to be lower,” Neihof said.

He explained that for several years all across the state, it was common for the rates to increase every year. However, two years ago, the board decided the rate increases were not good for the community and thus formed a budget committee to trim things without raising taxes.

“At the state level, we get funded on a per-pupil basis,” Neihof said. “At the local level, the funding comes based on property value. So if you’re a school district where your enrollment is staying the same and property value is either staying the same or increasing, you continually get the same amount of local revenue per pupil or more local revenue per pupil, that’s a good thing.”

Neihof said that it came to the point where the board had to make a stand.

“The only thing we had control over was the local tax revenue to try to offset it some, but at a certain point, the board felt like, and I agreed with them, we just couldn’t do that anymore, and so that’s when we really started cutting things.”

The board will vote on the tax rate at the Aug. 28 meeting.

 

Remaining ‘kid friendly’

Mike Clark, director of student services, outlined a new direction for the district’s Strategic Leadership Plan, with a the Kid-Friendly grant.

Clark noted that all middle and elementary school staff’s have completed the training based on Stephen Covey’s “The Leader in Me,” which is based off his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“Our work continues with additional training for elementary and middle on how to implement the Leader in Me initiative within their schools,” he said.

Shelby County and Collins high schools have been working on the training this month, he said, and after completion, will launch the GRIT (Goal driven, Resilient, Influential, Teens) and Personal Greatness Model.

The district is also exploring ways to administer a digital driver’s license for students this fall, Clark said.

“Students will earn a digital driver’s license by completing learning models,” he said, adding that those are digital programs for Access and Health and Wellness, Commerce, Communications, Etiquette and Security, Rights and Responsibilities and Media Fluency.

 

Insurance trust

Neihof also introduced the issue of whether the board should fund its Workers Compensation and Property and Liability funds through a loan or with a straight payment.

The funds are financed through the Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association (KISTA).

“They’re offering a no interest option over six years. About half of boards are taking the option to finance over longer periods of time,” he said. “Of the ones who have the cash reserve, as we do, and could pay it, about half of them are taking advantage of six years with no interest. However, some, for example Bullitt, County, they have the cash, but their total is over a million dollars. Certainly, they don’t want to part with a million dollars at one time. In our case, it’s a good bit less.”

The worker’s compensation amount for the district is $190,818 and liability is $133,353, with the total being $336,171.

“That’s quite a bit less than we originally thought; about half of what we originally thought. It’s still a lot of money,” Neihof said.

No action was taken on matter, but Neihof said it would be on the agenda at an upcoming meeting.

“We’ll need to make this decision rather soon. They need our answer by the end of September,” he said.

 

Also at the meeting, the board:

§       Approved a second reading of revised board policies.

§       Approved of Admissions and Release Committee chairpersons for 2014-15.

§       Approved revision of job description as submitted.

§       Approved allowing Shelby County Chamber of Commerce to use school buses for Young Leaders Institute events.

§       Approved adding a fuel vendor to the list for 2014-15.

§       Approved leave of absence request.

§       Approved board minutes for July 24, 2014 meeting.