Jenkins Ind. board approves tax rate much lower than compensating rate, but higher than last year’s; superintendent says it’s all citizens can be asked to pay

Mountain Eagle, Whitesburg, Sept. 27, 2017

Jenkins school taxes rise slightly

By WILLIAM FARLEY

The Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education set a slightly higher tax rate for the coming year at its Monday evening meeting. The new rate of 87.3 cents per $100 real property will add about $20 to the tax bill of a property owner with a house valued at $50,000, according to charts included in the presentation by District Finance Officer Candala Gibson, The rate set at the September board meeting is considerably lower than the $1.05 per $100 rate recommended by the Kentucky Department of Education, which included the compensating rate of $1.011 and the maximum of four percent the board could include without holding public meetings.

Gibson told the board that the rate of 66.3 cents recommended by House Bill 94 would be disastrous for the district. The Kentucky House of Representatives votes on a proposed tax rate each taxing period, but Superintendent Mike Genton said it’s hardly ever adopted.

“It’s probably been used 10 times,” said Genton.

Gibson told the board the district will be able to make it with the 87 cents rate, but added that it lost $45,000 in funding for Title I and Title II Programs, which she said about represents a teacher’s salary.

Vice Chair Brenda DePriest added that the salary for the new teacher approved to alleviate overcrowding in Grades I and II will come out of the general fund as will the tech resource teacher approved at the July meeting. Gibson also said that SEEK (Seeking Educational Excellence in Kentucky) allocations are uncertain at this time, but she said forecasts predict there will be a little more funding than last year. She said after that, it will probably go down, maybe as much as $40,000 a year.

Genton said if the cycle continues, a year with low tax collections could put Kentucky schools in a bad place. He said the district really needs a rate of 90 cents per $100, but agreed that the 87 cents per $100 is as high as the citizens of Jenkins can be asked to pay.

Brenda DePriest said the board was in a hard spot, because while it wants to provide the best possible instruction and opportunities for the students, it understands that recent economic setbacks for the community have made it difficult, with cutbacks in coal severance tax receipts, and a community with a high percentage of retirees on fixed incomes.

“We want to be compassionate,” said DePriest. “But we want the best for the students too.”

Board member Chris Bentley made a motion to set the rate at 87 cents and Paulette Sexton said that will at least keep the school system from having to lay off any school personnel. The board voted unanimously to set the property tax rate at 87 cents and to keep motor vehicle tax rates at 69 cents and utility taxes at 3 cents. Both are unchanged from last year.

Gibson also reported that the general fund stands at $982,603.81. She presented the draft budget for next year of $5,206,755.92. This does not include a state allocation of $893,000.

In other business, Superintendent Genton told the board that district enrollment stands at 418 and the attendance rate is 93.9 percent, up slightly from last year.

In the middle/ high school report, Principal Eddie Whitaker said middle/ high school teachers have received training in promoting high attendance and that counselors also met with students for an Upward Bound presentation through the University of Pikeville.

Upward Bound supports high school students from low-income families, and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree in their preparation for college. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their high school performance and improve the opportunity for success in college. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate students complete high school and enroll in and graduate from college. The Upward Bound counselors discussed scheduling and voter registration with students.

Students also placed orders for class rings and the bass fishing coach met with interested students. Morehead State University conducted a craft academy for students on September 21, and ACT practice tests were made available to students.

Senior picture day was September 25 and the guidance counselor assisted students in obtaining FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) identification numbers.

In the absence of Burdine Principal Stacy Collier, Superintendent Genton reported that the Grandparents Day lunch was a huge success at the elementary school. He said a book fair was held at Burdine Elementary and a Creative Care Rock Painting Project was well received.

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