Proposed budget cuts could devastate Kentucky's smaller school d - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Proposed budget cuts could devastate Kentucky's smaller school districts

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Elizabethtown Independent Schools Superintendent Jon Ballard Elizabethtown Independent Schools Superintendent Jon Ballard

Potential budget cuts are making leaders at smaller school districts across Kentucky nervous. If the current budget proposal goes through in Frankfort, one district will have to make major cuts just to stay open.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools Superintendent Jon Ballard said Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed budget would cost the district $1 million.

"It's alarming. When we see major cuts coming like this, it's overwhelming," Ballard said. "$1 million, for us, would be devastating. We would have to make major, major cuts, or else we would close our doors probably within five years." 

EIS is made up of six schools with 2,400 students. The state's proposed cut to the SEEK formula, which is how schools are funded, means the district would lose $313,000 from transportation funds alone.

Ballard said that's not feasible.

"There's no way we can cut out $313,000 out of our transportation," he said. "There's no way. We already run as efficient as we can. To do something like that, you'd have to look at going to a four-day work week. We're not gonna do something like that. That's not good for kids."

According to Ballard, the district would also take on an extra $419,000 in retirement and health insurance costs, forcing cuts from other areas.

"There's not a lot of options for a local school district," he said. "So ultimately, what it would come down to is looking at what your major expense is in your district. For most of all districts in Kentucky, it's personnel."

That means it'd affect people who work directly with students.

"Reducing the number of aides you have working with teachers, perhaps increasing class size to reduce the number of teachers you have..." Ballard said. "None of those things are good for kids."

Ballard encourages parents to speak up before a final budget is approved. The district has about $5 million in a reserve fund. 

"We can't be passive about this and hope it doesn't happen," he said. "We can't survive under these conditions."

Lawmakers are still working on a final version of the budget.

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