Glasgow Independent Schools voted to host a public hearing regarding raising the property tax rate for their school district, at the regular scheduled board meeting on Monday.
The public hearing will be at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25, with a special-called board meeting following at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of the hearing and subsequent meeting will be to inform the public of raising the property tax rate from the current 81.2 cents to 83.4 cents per $100 assessed value.
Finance Officer for GIS, Sue Furlong, said changing the property tax rate will generate 4 percent in revenue for the district.
“Times are hard and we are all taxed to death,” Furlong said during the school board meeting.
Board Member Barret Lessenberry agreed, saying he could see this being hard to swallow if there was doubt that the school district had “fluff in the system.”
Board Chairman Elaine Richardson said in the beginning of her term on the board, they took the 4 percent. Then, they made a commitment that they would take the compensating rate for a few years to let the tax hikes settle down.
“I’m of a mind now that we do need to start taking the 4 percent again. The legislature is not biting the bullet and doing tax reform and doing whatever is necessary to bring in more revenue at the state level. Costs keep going up.
We still have facility needs. I personally feel like we’ve done a good job of tightening our belts to cut costs when at all possible.”
Richardson referenced facility needs due to increased student population, as well as safety issues throughout the district.
Also discussed was the future of district-wide technology.
Chief Information Officer Chris Catron provided an update to the board concerning “E-rate,” which, according to the Federal Communications Commission website, is a “universal service program for schools and libraries.”
The E-rate makes technology communications and informational services available for schools and libraries in the country, the website said.
“Eligible services are reimbursed at a 67 percent reimbursement rate,” Catron said. “The federal government is going to be very much curtailing and making drastic changes to that E-rate reimbursement program. Basically we will no longer be eligible to get reimbursement back on long distance, all of our phone lines, web hosting, and anything associated with voice over IT.”
Catron said the district has been approved for this school year, but after 2015, they will have to pay for it themselves out of pocket.
In 2013, the district received $33,000 in services from E-rate, and once they got reimbursement, they could spend $67,000.
For 2014, there were $69,000 expenditures, and at the discounted rate they could have gotten $46,000 back.
Catron suggested to move forward with technology communications, and to also consider budgeting those items they previously were getting reimbursements for. He said they are not the only district that will be going through this.
“Even though we’re only paying $46,000, we’re actually losing something like $92,000 worth of capital we could spend,” Catron said.
Richardson asked what the district can do to recoup the cost.
Catron said he hopes that vendors will get greedy with the services they already have because it’s pretty much a guaranteed contract that the federal government is reimbursing you.
“Vendors will get very competitive, and I hope the prices will drop and they will also begin offering bundled services,” Catron said.
GIS Superintendent Sean Howard told the board that during the course of four years, it will be a loss of $340,000 or more. Howard then asked Catron what are some examples of the technological services the district was previously reimbursed for, and Catron said long distance phone services, Internet connections between schools, web hosting and emails to name a few.
“They pretty much hit us hard,” Catron said. “We had no idea such a drastic change was going to occur.”
Howard said costs are going to increase, but support and federal funding will continue to decrease.
Stone asked for a breakdown of the spending on technology at the next board meeting, and no action was taken following the discussion.
Approved items included:
• Payment for Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust Workers’ Compensation assessment
• Acceptance of the School Facilities Construction Commission’s first and second offer of assistance in the amount of $17,378 and $10,427, respectively
• Contract for a translator/interpreter services for the 2014-15 school year
• A stipend in the amount of $1,000 per month to be issued to assist with district-wide grounds maintenance for the months of June and July
• Entering into an agreement of financial assistance with Barren River Development Council, Inc. in the amount of $3,250 for the first year implantation of the Leave in Me program at Highland Elementary School
• Acceptance of a donation of $1,000 to the Glasgow High School cheerleaders and a donation of $500 for the GHS volleyball booster club
• Revised 2014-15 extended employment days schedule
• Revised 2014-15 band stipend in the amount of $7,500.