By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
With anticipated reductions in general fund revenue for the new school year, the Corbin Independent Schools said they’re ready to take steps now to control expenses in the 2013-14 budget.
During Thursday’s regular board meeting, Superintendent Ed McNeel said the district is committed to taking steps to maintain a sound financial condition for the schools.
“We want to make you aware of this,” he told board members at the session, held at Corbin Intermediate School.
Many public schools in Kentucky are put in a tight spot with reductions in Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding. SEEK is a formula-driven allocation of funds provided by the state to local school districts, which includes funds for transportation costs and special needs students as reported by the districts. McNeel pointed out the current “guaranteed” state SEEK funding is at the same level that Corbin Independent received in 2008. State funding for textbooks, professional development and extended school services have also been lost or reduced. In addition, he added state officials had indicated funding for public education will not improve for the upcoming two-year budget cycle of 2014 and 2015.
“The positive thing is that our student population is going up,” McNeel said.
Grant funding has also been reduced or eliminated, including Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC), 21st Century, Drug Free Communities and Steele-Reese Grants. Title 1 grants will be reduced $65,000 for the next school year, with a 10-percent sequestration reduction each year afterwards. To offset the reductions, the board is making new grant applications.
For years, Corbin Independent received the insurance services of the Kentucky School Board Insurance Trust (KISBIT), but the self-insured organization defaulted recently. State school districts will share in the losses, and as a result, Corbin will be required to make an annual payback over a 20-year period. The cost to the district is not known at this time, McNeel reported.
Another concern is with the nursing services provided to the schools in Corbin and Whitley County from the Whitley County Health Department. Board members learned the health department has not received Federal reimbursements for several months for the school nursing services, and as a result, the health department has no financial resources to continue the nursing services beyond this current school year. The Corbin district has five nurses providing nursing services in all Corbin schools, and is working on a plan to address meeting the nursing needs.
Other expense concerns listed were utility and fuel costs, school safety, food services, employee benefits, general purchases and instructional materials allocations to schools. The board pointed out steps have been taken to help the budget stay in line, such as energy conservation practices, a cutback in field trips to reduce fuel consumption, and close monitoring of the food services program.
To help with insurance coverages and costs, board members approved a contract with Comp Risk Management for consultant services for the 2013-14 school year. The company’s consultant, Larry Rice, was at the meeting, and told them he does not sell insurance, but is an advisor.
“What I propose is to do an RFQ (Request For Quotation) for the school system, and select who we want to bid for insurance services. I read insurance policies for a living. We look at coverages, we look at companies, and we make sure everything is in order so that Corbin schools get the best out there. … I’m also going to see what KISBIT is up to. We’ll definitely look at the assessment,” Rice said.
Among other actions taken at Thursday’s meeting, board members approved to increase the annual tuition from $1,500 to $1,600 for any student attending a Corbin school who resides in a school district not covered by Corbin’s nonresident student agreement with that district, effective for the 2013-2014 school year.
Presently, every school district in the neighboring counties has agreements with Corbin Independent, except the Knox County and Laurel County School districts.
The board also approved the BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) form for the security doors and sidewalk project at Corbin Middle School, with money coming from the district’s Building Fund. In addition, approval was given to use two Capital Funds Request Forms — one to use Building Fund cash for the security doors and sidewalk project, the other to use Building Fund cash for utilities. All three actions are pending approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Approval was also given to the 2013-2014 school allocations to the Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils for staffing and instructional funds, including a Section Six Instructional Supplies Allocation, that may be adjusted, pending legislative action by the current state General Assembly.
Several grant applications were approved by the board. That included a Steele-Reese grant for $50,000, a Toyota Teacher of the Year grant for $20,000, and an Impact-Aid grant, with funds determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Approval was given to accept a 21st Century Community Learning grant of $75,000, and to continue FRYSC grants for the upcoming school year. Also approved was an offer of acceptance from the state School Facilities Construction Commission (SFCC) of $27,262. The money will be restricted to the Fund 2, Project 1623 Educational Technology account.
A date for what’s being called the “Open House Celebration” for the completion of the renovation and construction project at Corbin High School has been set for Thursday, May 9. Tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. that date, the open house will be held the same day as the school board’s regular meeting in May, which will be held at the high school. Plans are for the board meeting to follow the open house.
To tie in with the open house, McNeel asked Corbin High School Principal John Derek Faulconer if the Senior Class president would say a few words at the occasion. Faulconer commented on how the project was constructed during the senior’s years in high school, and how the finished product felt to them as they prepared to graduate.
“The seniors want a piece of drywall dedicated to them, and they also want to know if they can decorate a piece of drywall,” said Faulconer.
After the regular session, board members went into executive session, to discuss the sale or purchase of real property, personnel and proposed pending litigation.
Their next regular board meeting is set for March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Central Office on Roy Kidd Avenue.