To the citizens of Lawrence County,
On June 2nd Governor Andy Beshear announced $127 million dollars from the Better Kentucky Plan will be donated to local school districts to fund construction and renovation projects.
Lawrence County schools received $0.
In response to the announcement, we contacted the Kentucky School Facilities Commission who voted for the 13 school districts across the state. It was made clear; the reason Lawrence County Schools did not receive any funding was because we did not pass a Nickel Tax. Although our schools were older, and in most cases more in need of repair, we were informed we were not eligible. It did not matter to them that Louisa West was built in 1954 and is 10,20,30 years older than some of the schools given money. It did not matter that our citizens cannot afford more taxes. It did not matter that our School Board has been great stewards of your tax dollars and were prepared and could bond for the same amount the Nickel Tax would generate. It simply did not matter to them. They are demanding a tax for their help.
That is just not right.
Your School Board and board office carefully and thoughtfully manages every penny of your tax dollars to meet our children’s needs to the best of our ability. Your school taxes are the lowest in the 15th region and lower than over a hundred other districts throughout the rest of the state, and at last measure had a board office payroll that was tied for 6th lowest in the state out of 174 districts. We have done this while preparing for our future and providing 1 to 1 technology for our students and while giving a 2% raise to all certified staff and a $.50 hourly raise to all classified this year. We have always nearly a 4% contingency, and we are in sound financial shape.
We were ready, we were in need, yet we got nothing.
Our children deserve better, our staff deserves better, and the citizens of Lawrence County deserve better. Why should an additional tax be required to get OUR OWN TAX DOLLARS from a committee that was formed to help school districts provide better schools?
It is not right. It is not fair. And yes, I am mad.
Be clear, I am not advocating for a Nickel Tax. I am writing to inform of the reason we keep getting left out. We need strong leaders to stand up for all Lawrence Countians and the children of our county. I have been to Frankfort and have already called and voiced my complaint. But we need more. We need all leaders in our county to stand up for our children and against Lawrence County getting passed by time and time again. We need our state legislature to make rural counties under 20,000 population exempt from the Nickel Tax standard. Lawrence County has a population just under 16,000. Our citizens can not bare tax after tax that it would require to provide like the bigger cities. We simply do not have the population. But our children deserve the same as children in Lexington and Louisville and throughout the state. Our children deserve the same quality schools as those in these bigger cities. We do not have that big time politician or multi-millionaire tycoon that can sway money from Frankfort and Washington to their hometowns. It is going to take all of us. I ask you to stand with me and contact the Governor’s office, your state legislature, and the Kentucky School Facilities Commission and tell them to make rural counties with under 20,000 population exempt from the Nickel Tax Standard to help us provide better schools for our children in Lawrence County! They can help without adding more TAXES!
Thank you and God Bless,
D. Heath Preston
Chairman of Lawrence County School Board