In a continuing effort toward creating a collaborative culture, please find a summary of Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting. This is being forwarded to all employees and parents/community via e-communications.
This is merely a summary and not to be perceived as official board minutes.
At the January 28, 2014 meeting of the Scott County Board of Education, Board Chair Dr. Roger Ward, issued the following statement and motion:
“On November 12, 2013, this Board took a courageous step. We voted unanimously to levy a tax rate of 57.84 cent per 100 dollar valuation. This was an increase of 10.64 cents over the rate we set in August. This increase is the amount we need to fully fund bonding for construction of the new high school and extra-curricular facilities to be open as early as fall of 2016. The students in this district need a new high school, and we have been working as a board to make this a reality as quickly as possible. Our community supports this need. Even the leaders of the petition drive agree that we need a new high school.?
On January 17, 2014, we were notified that the County Clerk certified the petition as containing sufficient signatures to place the levy before the voters. In order to make decisions in the best interest of all, we examined the petition through an open records request. This review yielded several concerns with the petition. For one, there are multiple pages where information appears to have been added and photo copied though the statute requires signatures to be in ink or indelible pencil. There were multiple omissions of addresses and birthdates, and there were signatures of those who signed more than one time. The clerk certified a number "more than 2081" and stated that she did not review all signatures. Finally, the petition contained the wrong statute that was printed on every page of the petition. KRS statute 160.597 corresponds to utility and other forms of tax increase, but does not refer to the property tax increase. In her certification, the clerk certifies the document based on KRS 132.017 and does not reference the incorrect one used throughout the petition. Based on these concerns, we held a closed session to discuss possible litigation over the validity of the petition and certification. After the closed session, no motion was made to initiate litigation, and no challenge to the Clerk's certification has been initiated.
But our goal is not to take the county clerk to court, to invalidate a petition because of these errors, or to bring the county to a showdown vote over a tax increase for a new school. When we held our forums last year more than 90% of the responses we received urged us to raise the tax sufficient for a new school and athletic fields. And so we did. But this last week we received the petition containing approximately 3800 signatures, including those with errors. This number exceeds the combined total of individuals who attended meetings on the facility planning process, the public forums on the new high school, and the work sessions at which we reviewed the current budget line-by-line. We acknowledge there are many people who may support the high school but are concerned or opposed to an increase this size in tight economic times. Through this process we have found that there are very different ideas about the willingness of Scott County citizens to finance the new high school. But just saying no to the tax will not solve our basic problem: with our expanding population we must, and we will, have a new high school. So what we have to do is find the way to do this that fits with the desires of our citizens.?What we want, as a board, is to make decisions about building a new high school in such a way that we can all move forward together. We don't want to fight and we don't want to sue. We want to do what we can to get a high school for our students as quickly as possible, and with as much community support, buy-in, and agreement as possible.?A spirit of cooperation is what we most desire because our students learn from what we do as much as what they hear in the classroom. We want to build a new high school, but how we do it is as important as when we do it.
For this reason, and following the guidance set out in KRS 132.017, I am moving tonight that the board reconsider the 10.64 levy we voted for in November. I motion that we amend the tax rate to a rate which will produce no more revenue from real property, exclusive of revenue from new property as defined in KRS 132.010, than four percent (4%) over the amount of revenue produced by the compensating tax rate defined in KRS 132.010 from real property. This action will eliminate the need to place this item on the ballot in November. This allows us to spend our efforts on moving forward with the process of designing and planning the high school with funds we currently have available. Do I hear a second?”
Members then voted to rescind the proposed tax levy. The Scott County Board of Education reaffirmed their collective commitment to build a second high school while strengthening a spirit of cooperation throughout the community.
Superintendent Patricia Putty introduced Stephen Chu, administrator from our sister school in Hong Kong. Students, administrators, and teachers have participated in a cultural exchange between the two schools each year since 2006. This week, students and teachers from Hong Kong led a lesson in calligraphy at Scott County Ninth Grade School and Georgetown Middle School. Stephen shared how excited he was that next year would be the tenth anniversary of the Scott County-Hong Kong cultural exchange partnership. Ninth Grade Teacher Amanda Waldrop coordinated this year’s exchange program.
In other business, the Board voted to approve Sherman, Carter, Barnhart as the architectural firm which will conduct the building evaluation and inventory required by the Local Planning Commission (LPC).
Members approved consent items for minutes, donations, and fundraisers. Members also reviewed the annual assessment and evaluation of school nutrition and physical activity and approved the student fee for the Hong Kong exchange program.
The Board voted to approve common carrier use as presented. Director of Transportation Roy Prince shared a cost estimate for use of school buses. Policy changes related to use of common carrier received first reading at the January 14, 2014 Board meeting.
Michelle Nichols, Principal of Elkhorn Crossing School, shared information about Project Lead the Way Engineering and Science grants being written with Board approval. If funded, these grants would support engineering and biomedical programs at Elkhorn Crossing School and Scott County Ninth Grade School as well as the Gateway to Technology engineering program at all three middle schools.
Director of Finance Randy Cutright discussed the offer of assistance from the School Facilities Construction Commission, which was approved by the Board. If included in the final budget bill developed by the Kentucky legislature, this offer could bring $232,703 in future debt service payments. Cutright also presented the 2014-2015 draft budget for Scott County Schools.
During the Superintendent’s Report, Mrs. Putty announced that Scott County High School will send the largest group from any high school in the state to participate in the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) All State Choirs. As of January 28, the last day of school is June 4, 2014. The Scott County Board of Education will hold a work session on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 6:00pm at the Central Office of Schools.