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Fletcher, See comment on potential losses; 

Members of state board of education concerned about how $17.9 million cut can be implemented

Newly elected Governoe Matt Bevin has included controversial cuts in K-12 education in his budget proposal

Ky. State Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, left,Lawrence Co. Supt Dr. Rob Fletcher and KSBA and local BOE member Jim See are concerned about proposed cuts especially in pre-school and vocational and community education in local school districts

 

The Kentucky Board of Education devoted plenty of time – and plenty of opinions – Wednesday trying to learn how staff of the state Department of Education are going about planning for the major spending cuts to K-12 programs recommended in Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal.

The plan, which is now before the House of Representatives, calls for KDE to cut $17.9 million – most of which goes to school districts – before the end of the fiscal year June 30. While the biennial budget also calls for another 9 percent cut in both FY 2017 and 2018, much of the discussion during the KBE’s monthly meeting centered around the impact of the governor’s plan on current-year programs in schools.

“I don’t think the general public understood from the budget address that in the current fiscal year there would be a 4.5 percent cut as well as a 9 percent (cut) in both 2017 and 2018,” said KBE member David Karem of Louisville. “I think the public needs to hear that. That’s more severe than the general public understands.”

Budget Cuts

KBE member Leo Calderon of Highland Heights fears the cuts will put the state further behind in its educational work.

“Nationally, we’re spending about $1,200 less per student. I am very concerned about this reduction (because) we’re already at a disadvantage on spending per child,” he said. “I just wonder how this is going to affect our students ultimately.”

Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt and Associate Commissioners Kevin Brown and Robin Kinney spent considerable time briefing the state board on what is – and is not – clear about the governor’s budget at this point. But while noting that the budget must still go through the legislative process, the KDE officials stressed that the agency can’t wait until the budget ultimately is passed into law sometime in April.

Pruitt repeated his pledge to the state’s superintendents in a Jan. 28 webcast that he would do “everything I can to protect the funds that go into schools…but we do have about $17.9 million we’ve got to cut over the last five months of the year.”

The new commissioner said he and Kinney met with Bevin the day after his budget address in what Pruitt called “a good meeting” that helped clarify the task ahead of them.

“There was a little bit of confusion at first about whether that ($17.9 million) was off the base for 2016, or whether it was on the cuts for 2016. So we’re still working on that. Those numbers may shift some, but it’s a pretty significant cut,” he said. “There are grants that go to districts that we’re going to have to look at cuts. Obviously, we’re going to try our best to make sure that anything that is going directly into the classroom is protected as much as possible, but there are going to be items that we’re going to take a close look at.”

Kinney said, “We are analyzing, running all of our balances, trying to come up with money in fiscal 2016. There are five months left and $17 million is a big amount of money. If we look at just a straight 4.5 percent cut, some amounts we’ve already paid out…we only have the (unspent) allotment left. Other accounts we have contracts for which we are accountable. There are repercussions if you make cuts.

“When you look at the 4.5 percent, it’s based on the appropriation level. But you don’t have that money left, so it’s more than 4.5 percent of what’s left,” she said.

The state board of education had sought increased funding in several areas, including student transportation, career and technical education, preschool and testing.

“We’re being asked to reduce in some areas where we were asking for more money,” said Kinney.

Several KBE members inquired about the impact of the cuts at the district level as well as about what guidance the department is providing.

“We have not provided guidance to districts because we don’t have a handle. We’re looking at what funds remain where we could cut $17.9 million,” Pruitt said. “We could just say 4.5 percent for everybody, but we have some funds that are no longer available because they’re gone. We will be submitting guidance to districts once we get a handle on it ourselves.

“We are assuming that that 4.5 percent (cut) is coming. There is some debate about what that will actually look like by April 15 (when the General Assembly session must conclude). If we wait until April 15 and that comes through, as it appears it will, we definitely won’t have the $17.9 million to cut.”

“At the risk of sounding Pollyannaish or (wearing) rose-colored glasses, I am an eternal optimist. We can’t ignore the realities that this is going to impact education. In the reality that we face cuts, we have to remember that we need to take care of our kids,” Pruitt said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m good for all of the cuts. What I’m saying is that, as an education community, we’ve got to take care of our kids. We’ve got to know it’s going to hurt, in some ways more than others. The charge for us is how do we become more innovative and more effective?”

Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner attended part of the KBE meeting, but did not address the spending cuts proposed by the governor. He did promote the governor’s plan to create a new scholarship pool to support projects designed to get more high school graduates to be career ready when they leave school.

By Brad Hughes
Special to KyForward

Dr. Rob, KSBA member See say cuts may affect pre-school and community education programs most

"...According to the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents Executive Director, Dr. Tom Shelton, Governor Bevin stated that this cut will not affect school systems' SEEK allocations (which are based on student attendance, enrollment, transportation, etc.)," Fletcher told The Lazer

"It is possible that these cuts may impact state grants. (State grants include professional development, ESS, preschool, safe schools, instructional resources/textbooks, gifted and talented, Read to Achieve, community education, career tech, etc.) Commissioner Pruitt has vowed that he will do everything he can to minimize the impact on school districts. Again, it is not clear how these state funds may be impacted."

    Unless a funding source is restricted, a cut in one area will require a shift in funds from other areas.

    Kentucky School Boards Association member Jim See, also a member of the Lawrence County BOE said the KSBA is working to get the proposed cuts removed from the Bevin budget.

    "KSBA appreciates the governor’s commitment to keep the SEEK funding in line with enrollment. We also greatly appreciate his work to strengthen the KTRS pensions," See said today (Friday). "However, our membership is very concerned about the millions that would be cut from funding preschools, career technical classes and multiple other programs, now and for the two years ahead. We are working with legislative leaders to search for other options to reduce or avoid those cuts."


     

    Police chief says no increase in alcohol related crime

    Louisa ABC administrator William LeedyThe numbers are in. Alcohol retailers in Louisa sold $931,743.60 in the City’s first 6 months of alcohol sales, bringing in $46,586.73 in tax revenue and $8,000.00 in licensing fees for the city.  

    The sale of beer began in June 2015, Marking the first legal alcohol sales in Louisa in nearly a Century. 

    Liquor sales were not permitted until August, when The city’s 2 allotted liquor licenses were approved by state regulators. The sale of liquor, which can’t be purchased in neighboring Ft. Gay, WV, brought a sharp incline in sales and tax revenue for the remainder of the year.

    Thus far, the city has used the tax revenue to hire an ABC administrator to handle the additional administrative and regulatory requirements incurred by alcohol sales. 

    “Once we have a better picture of what our average annual tax revenue from Alcohol sales will be, council will then be able to decide what else to spend any additional tax revenue on” said Mayor Harold Slone. 

    “State law requires that the alcohol tax money be spent on the additional expenses the city has to take on for the regulation of alcohol sales, such as an ABC administrator, additional Police Officers, office staff, office equipment and so on. The licensing fees can be added to the general fund and doesn't have to be spent on alcohol related expenditures” he said. 

    Citizens were deeply divided on the vote to permit sales of alcohol in city limits. Many of those who were against the the city lifting the ban on sales cited the fear of the uptick in crime related to alcohol. 

    When asked about any changes in crime, Police chief Greg Fugitt said “we haven't really seen any significant increase in alcohol related crimes other than public intoxication, which has gone up slightly, probably due to people walking to purchase alcohol rather than drive” 

     

    INDIVIDUALS ARRESTED IN DECEMBER CRIMINAL INCIDENTS HAVE EXTENSIVE CRIMINAL RECORDS OVER MORE THAN THE PAST DECADE.


    Five of the six people arrested on charges related to a pair of criminal incidents in Louisa last month, LPD STOPS, ARRESTS RITE AID METH SHOPLIFTER and MARTIN, LAWRENCE COUNTY THEFT SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN LAWRENCE, apparently are well versed in illegal illicit activities, as it is revealed they all have a long history of crime.

    In the case involving the four people arrested in cell phone theft arrests; Adam Fletcher, 33, and Ashley Maynard, 26, both of Louisa, along with Johnny R. Jude, 34, and Teri Sammons, 34, of Inez, Ky., all four have lengthy criminal records in Kentucky.

    Adam Fletcher - latest arrest on December 23, marked the 16th time Fletcher has been arrested in Kentucky since September 2008, for a total of 26 charges in those seven plus years.

    Ashley Maynard - latest arrest on December 23, marked the 13th time Maynard has been arrested in Kentucky since August 2007, for a total of 41 charges in those eight plus years.

    Johnny R. Jude -  latest arrest on December 23, marked the 17th time Jude has been arrested in Kentucky since June 2004, for a total of 37 charges in those eleven plus years.

    Teri Sammons - latest arrest on December 23, marked the 9th time Sammons has been arrested in Kentucky since January 2006, for a total of 16 charges in that ten year period.

    In the Rite Aid arrests, the two people involved, Justin Harless, 27, and Melissa Chaffin- Thompson, 40,

    JUSTIN HARLESS AND MELISSA CHAFFIN THOMPSON

    Justin Harless - latest arrest on December 21, marked the 29th time Harless has been arrested in Kentucky since September 2007, for a total of 52 charges in those eight plus years

    The sixth person of the two groups, Melissa Chaffin - Thompson, is apparently the "lightweight" when compared to the other five arrested individuals. Besides the five charges from her December 21 arrest, Thompson's only other known arrest in the last 15 years is a public intoxication from 2007.

    Of cases heard in circuit court, many were women...Grand Jury rescheduled to Feb., no indictments for January

    Lawrence County Circuit Court was held Jan. 27, after being rescheduled due to last week's snowstorm.  Several criminal cases were heard, many of which were women. The Grand Jury did not meet, and was rescheduled for February, at which time they will consider indictments.

    Circuit Court cases are as follows....

    Tammy N. AkersTammy Akers, 34, was sentenced on pre-trial diversion, 5 years, with 53 days jail credit, for Knowingly Exploit Adult By Person Over $300.

    Missy Borders, 35, pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years diversion, supervised 5 years for Complicity Burglary 3rd Degree.  The same sentence was imposed for Complicity Theft By Unlawful Taking Parts From Vehicle Under $500, and for Complicity Theft if Motor Vehicle Registration Plate/Renewal Decal.  The charge of Complicity Possession of Burglary Tools was dismissed.  Final sentencing  Feb. 26.

     

    Sandra Bowens, 54, pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years probation five years, 365 days in home incarceration.  The same sentence was imposed for Complicity Fraudulent Use of ID Card of Electronic Code for Benefits.  Sentences to run concurrently.  Final sentencing Feb. 26.

    Shelly CollinsShelly Collins, 28, pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years for each of the following charges:  Complicity Traffick In Controlled Substance, (6) counts of Complicty Fraudulent Use of ID Card of Electronic Code for Benefits, 7 years for Complicity Trafficking in Controlled Substance 1st Degree, 3 months each for Complicity Drug Paraphernalia Buy/Possession, and Complicity Possession of Marijuana.  

    The charge of Persistent Felony Offender enhanced Count I to 10 years.  Sentences to run concurrently. Final sentencing Feb. 26.

     

    Sherry J. CookAmber FlemingSherry J. Cook, 45, was not present, a bench warrant was issued.

    Amber Fleming, 46, was scheduled for pre-trial conference on charge of Knowingly Exploit Adult By Person Over $300.  Pre-trial conference Feb. 26. Defendant also pled not guilty to charge of  Bail Jumping 1st Degree.  Defendant remains incarcerated.

     

     

    Steven Hunt

     

    Steven Hunt, 25, was sentenced to 1 year for Tampering With Prisoner Monitoring Device. Sentence to run consecutive to a separate charge of Bail Jumping 1st Degree.  A charge of Escape 2nd Degree was dismissed. In a separate case, Hunt was sentenced to 10 years for Complicity Manufacture Meth, 1 year for Possession Controlled Substance 1st Degree, and 12 months for Drug Paraphernalia Buy/Possession.  Sentences to run concurrently, with 326 days jail credit.

     

    Johnathan Lester, 27, pled guilty to charge of Theft By Unlawful Taking -Shoplifting, and sentenced to 3 years probation, supervised 5 years and other conditions. In a separate case, Lester was sentenced to 5 years probation, 5 years supervised and other conditions, for Complicity Burglary 3rd Degree.  The same sentence was imposed for Complicity Theft By Unlawful Taking Parts From Vehicle Under $500.  Charges of Complicity Possession of Burglary Tools and and Complicity Theft of Motor Vehicle Registration Plate/Decal was dismissed.  Final sentencing April 22.  

    James MooreJames G. Moore, 65, was arraigned, pleading not guilty on charge of Failure to Comply With Sex Offender Registration. Pre-trial conference Feb. 26.  Defendant remains incarcerated.

    Kevin Murphy, 21, was not present, a bench warrant was issued.

    Stephen P. Salyers, 53, was arraigned, pleading not guilty to multiple drug charges. Pre-atrial conference Feb. 26.

    Chad  SteppChad A. Stepp, 31, pled guilty and was sentenced as follows:  5 years each for two charges of Complicity Trafficking In Controlled Substance, and Complicity Fraudulent Use of ID Card of Electronic Code for Benefits as well as a month sentence for same charge, 90 days for Complicity Drug Paraphernalia Buy/Possession and for Complicity Possession of Marijuana. A charge of Persistent Felony Offender 1st Degree, enhanced sentence to 10 years.

    Cody Williams, 38, was scheduled for trial on Feb. 24 on Assault and Wanton Endangerment charges.  

    Information taken from Lawrence County Circuit Court Clerk's office

     

    JANUARY 26, 2016

    Roadways are hazardous with blowing and/or drifting snow, roadways may be icy 

    As of 8AM we will be downgrading to a Level 1 Snow Emergency. The majority of the roads have seen significant improvement. While we still have some roads awaiting treatment most have improved enough for us to downgrade to Level 1. 

    It is still recommend for everyone that possibly can to limit travel, this is especially true for secondary roadways until things return to normal. If you must be out, continue to plan on experiencing some travel issues on all roads and some secondary roadways that may still be fairly bad. 

    Please have an emergency supply kit with you in case you run into trouble and continue to watch for our plow drivers and emergency responders.

    SNOW EMERGENCY LEVEL ONE: Conditions: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and/or drifting snow, roadways may be icy. 

    Advisory: Cautious driving is advised.

     

    Thank you for your continued patience. We can finally see a little light at the end of this tunnel. 

    Michael Woods

    Lawrence County EMA Director