Legislators’ advice to school boards facing funding shortfalls: “Get lean and mean” and “be creative”

Kentucky School Advocate
October 2017

By Matt McCarty
Staff writer
The Fall Regional Meetings are not only a way for members to hear from KSBA, but also an opportunity for legislators to hear the concerns of board members.

KSBA invites area legislators to its regional meetings each fall.

“If you’re going to be a voice in Frankfort, you better know what the people are thinking and what they’re discussing and what’s important to them, and that’s what this gives me an opportunity to hear,” said State Sen. Dorsey Ridley, a Democrat from Henderson who attended the Second Region meeting in Webster County.

State Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, a Republican who represents Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties, said the meeting “was educational to me with hearing what the legislative concerns are.”

“I think it was good to be here. It makes a difference when you’re actually sitting with the folks who are on the ground doing the job,” she said. “Doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going, we’re going to be on the same page, but I can have a conversation so I can hear it in their arena and then hopefully have a conversation moving forward. Get their input more and share my perspective as well.”

Both Ridley and Prunty had advice for school districts dealing with funding issues.

“They’ve got to get lean and mean as the old expression goes when you talk about budgeting and you’ve got to do the best you can to forecast,” Ridley said. “People expect that of legislators and the same is true with boards as well. It’s a difficult situation right now. Change is the only thing that is inevitable.”

“When monies are tight you have to be creative and maybe find other ways to get funding,” Prunty said. “If I’ve learned anything as a freshman representative, everybody wants money. ... They may have to look to ... do some fundraising or ask some local groups – business groups or philanthropic groups locally – to help them kind of get over the hump until we get the pension crisis under control because there’s only so much money to go around.”
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