The Kentucky House Budget Committee acted Tuesday to put $7 million into an emergency school loan fund. It’s aimed at helping 12 eastern Kentucky school districts struggling with coal-related financial issues.
If enacted, school districts could each tap into the loan fund for up to a half million dollars this fiscal year. Money for the already existing fund comes from excess per pupil dollars in the seek program, the primary funding method for k through 12.
State Department of Education Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney says it’s not a statewide problem. “We don’t want to paint this as a picture that’s affecting all local school districts. Many of them are in good financial shape. But, we need to have resources available in case they do need it to get through the fiscal year,” said Kinney
Louisville Representative Jim Wayne says it might be better to offer grants instead of a loan program, considering the dire situation in these communities.
Lexington Representative Kelly Flood told her committee colleagues she feels the ultimate answer is raising revenues statewide. “The most significant thing we can do is take tough votes and raise revenue for our public education system from pre-k to post graduate. That is what we can do and ought to do this year,” noted Flood.
Robin Kinney says the 12 school districts have experienced between $100,000 and $1 million losses.