Financial Update 2014


Click here to download  Tax Hearing August 2014  -PDF

Click here to download  Financial Update 2014 Packet  -PDF

Click here to download  Tax Rate by Levied Type  2007-08 through 2012-13  -PDF


Finance Modules - 

 Module 1 -  Module 2 -
 Module 3 -  Module 4 -

Budget FAQ 

We've compiled some common questions about the budget. Still have a question? Let us know! 

Funding sources include 43 percent from local property taxes and about 52 percent from the state in 2013-14. The remainder comes from federal funding, which pays for specific programs that support students and staff.

Despite mounting obligations that cost us both time and money, we receive less state SEEK funding than all but 20 other Kentucky school districts. That means we rank 152nd out of 173 districts in terms of our primary source of state funding.

Our 2013 tax rate of 73.4 cents is required to be split between our general fund and building fund. Of that amount, 51.3 cents goes into the general fund and 22 cents goes to the building fund (the remaining .1 cent is for exonerations and also goes to our general fund but is tracked separately by the state). We rank 54th in terms of the amount collected for our general fund.

Our expenses increase by about $1 million every year because of salary and benefit contributions required by the state but funded locally. Other mandates, like Senate Bill 1 “Unbridled Learning,” increase expenses through necessary training and implementation.

We pride ourselves on being good stewards of the public’s money. We intentionally look for ways to reduce expenses while protecting our classrooms as much as possible. Ensuring the learning of every child remains our top priority.

Oldham County Schools is a top-performing district in efficient use of funds. This is based on two independent studies (2010 by the American Progress Institute and 2012 by the Bluegrass Institute) that compared the revenue available and results achieved based on measures of student learning. The “Bang For Your Buck” report by the Bluegrass Institute ranked Oldham County as the fifth most efficient district in the state — and the largest district by far in the top 10.

Last year, the district cut spending by $3 million by making reductions across all areas. About 85 percent of our general fund spending goes toward salaries and benefits. In order to drastically reduce spending, personnel cuts were made in many areas including eliminating 30 teacher positions.

We have also used contingency funds to pay down bus purchase debt, saving the district $200,000 in interest and making nearly $600,000 available in cash flow.

The district is a national leader in energy efficiency and works hard to ensure we are keeping those costs down. The district has 12 Energy Star Certified schools, 7 of which scored a 90 or higher. This distinction puts our district in the nation's top 10 for energy efficiency.

We are pursuing outside funding through grants and partnerships to fund special programs. These include Camp Literacy Live, the Reading Academy and the OCS Engineering Academy. In 2014, we have secured more than $121,000 in outside funding for those specific programs, plus additional funding for other projects. Many of these donations are solicited by the Oldham County Educational Foundation on our behalf. This year OCEF will double its contributions to $200,000. Learn more at

100 percent of the school tax you pay stays right here in Oldham County — it comes directly to us, it doesn’t go through the state or get shared with any other district. Your dollars go to your students.

Last year, the district cut $3 million in spending. We also made significant cuts from 2008-2011 totalling about $2.2 million. With so little spent on administration and so much spent on compensation, the only thing left will be to cut teachers and programs. Programs like GATES, the Engineering Academy, the Arvin Educational Center and Reading Recovery could all face reduction or elimination.

The board of education did raise taxes last August (2013) — for the first time in four years. In the past decade, there have even been two years when the board lowered the rate.

Compared to 10 years ago, the school property tax rate is 6.4 cents higher. That's $64 per $100,000 of property value.

Salaries for teachers and classroom support staff are the focus of a tax increase in 2014. Our staff deserve to be compensated for their hard work and for the demands new state mandates put on them and their families. The revenue generated will be used to give a small raise to all staff, but the majority of the funds will go directly to teachers and classroom instructional staff.

This year, our teachers will begin the state’s required Professional Growth Effectiveness System, a different evaluation process than what our district previously used. This state-mandated system will require them to spend additional time submitting reports and paperwork to the state department of education. Teachers will have to spend more of their personal time completing this mandated burden as well as continuing their work ensuring the learning of every child.

And, in order to continue attracting the best teachers to educate our students, our salaries must competitive with neighboring districts. We are lagging behind many nearby counties, including Shelby, Jefferson and Bullitt.

All school tax money paid by the Oldham County property owner stays in Oldham County. Our school tax dollars go directly to our children. It doesn’t go through the state or get shared with any other district. Your dollars go to your students.

According to 2013 audited reports available from KDE, Oldham County Schools' district administration category expenditures total $1,573,755. With our general fund expenses (lines 1000-3900) at $104,105,297, about 1.5 percent of our general fund budget was spent on administration. The state average is about 2.27 percent. Per pupil, we have the 12th-lowest administrative expenditures in the state. However, it is important to note that all districts include the same expenses under this category. (This data is publicly available on the KDE Open House site.)

Since the county began rapidly growing in the mid-1990s, the district has acquired parcels of property in anticipation of future needs. Some of those acquisitions have come through donations — developers and residents can receive tax benefits from doing so and can also help support the district's future.

The district has not purchased any property since 2010 after it purchased the 18.5-acre Button Lane parcel that is now the Administrative Annex and bus compound.

In summary, the district owns about 783 total acres of land. About 256 acres are currently vacant, including 75.74 donated acres. The district is tax exempt and pays no property tax on any of its property. Plans for several parcels include expansion of the East campus and construction of the Brownsboro campus at such time the district’s enrollment warrants those projects.

The board of education has on-going discussions about the potential sale of property it owns, keeping in mind that sale proceeds would be one-time funds and shouldn’t be used for recurring expenses like salaries.

Click here for spreadsheets detailing the property owned by the district

The board of education levies four “nickels” on property taxes. These are additional 5-cent property taxes that go into the building fund and are included in the total school district property tax.

One of these is required if the district wants to participate in state funding programs for buildings, the School Facilities Construction Commission and the Facilities Support Program of Kentucky. All public districts in Kentucky currently levy this amount.

Two “nickels” are related to growth, and the district meets state requirements to levy these amounts. The fourth nickel is related to building needs and was subject to recall when enacted.

The board of education continues to levy these four nickels because that funding is needed to pay the existing debt service and maintain facilities. If we were to reduce the number of nickel levies, the district would quickly not be able to meet building-related expenses, including debt service, maintenance, renovations and new construction.

Unfortunately, it’s also not possible to just “move” a nickel amount to the general fund — if we eliminated a nickel but wished to increase the general fund portion by that amount, it would exceed the maximum the board of education can raise tax rates.

You can learn more about the nickel taxes here:

KDE Nickel Facts  ( )

The state requires a designated amount be delegated to the building fund. Building funds pays for the existing debt service, primarily for schools built during the district’s population boom. It also pays for renovations, maintenance and new construction. The district can apply to transfer money from the building fund into the general fund, but it must be approved by the state. That practice has to be included in the state biennial budget, so we cannot assume we will be able to apply for those transfers in the future.

Contingency funds are one-time revenues and should not be used to pay for recurring expenses. That would be like paying for your mortgage from your savings account. Eventually, you’ll be out of savings but your mortgage payment will still be due.

A better use for one-time funds, including contingency funds, is to pay off debt. Doing so saves the district from paying additional interest on the debt, and also makes more general fund dollars available to pay recurring expenses. The board chose last year to exercise this option, paying off debt from bus purchases, saving $200,000 in interest and making $600,000 additional available in cash flow.

A number of entities levy property taxes — there are about 17 different groups who collect property taxes in Oldham County, including fire departments, the health department, the library and municipalities.

For the school district, the board of education sets the rate each fall, usually in early August or late July. The Kentucky Department of Education gives the board several options to consider and estimates the amount of revenue those rates would generate. One option is always the “compensating rate,” which sets the next year’s rate at an amount that will generate the same amount of revenue as the preceding year.

School boards across the state set the tax rate annually. They can choose to keep rates the same, decrease them or increase them so that the revenue generated is increased by 4 percent. Any increase above the 4 percent amount is subject to recall. A proposed increase of any amount requires the board of education to hold a public hearing, this year Sept. 11 at 6 p.m., at the Oldham County Schools Arts Center. You can also share your opinion with your board member before that meeting.

The Oldham County Property Valuation Administrator, a locally-elected official, assesses property value annually. Each property is assessed every four years. Your property taxes are calculated based on this assessment.

Currently, the board of education has set the property tax rate for the school district at 73.4 cents per $100 of property value. That means for a home valued at $100,000, you will pay $734 in property taxes to the school district. The recommended tax rate of 76.5 is $31 more per $100,000 — dollars that will stay right here in Oldham County classrooms.

The county and other entities also tax your property, but we do not receive those funds.

Every member of our community plays an important role in the education process — and it is our goal that each of our students becomes an important, contributing member of the community.

All revenue generated by local property taxes by the school district stays right here in our school system — 100 percent of it gets invested into the services provided to the students of our county. Oldham County is recognized for many wonderful qualities; foremost among these are our schools. Homeowners who pay property taxes are investing in our schools which, in turn, helps ensure strong property values for Oldham County residents.

It’s a vital cycle — investing in our students ensures a vibrant, thriving future for Oldham County.

In addition to developing the next generation of Oldham County residents — and we certainly hope our students choose to live here as adults — our school district is a smart investment in everyone’s future.


When people think of Oldham County, many think of our schools — something we should all be proud of, because the successes and reputation of our schools is a reflection of our community and the value we place on education. Oldham County, when compared to the other 119 counties throughout the state, ranks among the highest in median household income and educational attainment.

Our schools are continuously ranked among the best throughout the state. In 2013, we ranked in the 96th percentile for Unbridled Learning and earned District of Distinction honors. This month we received ACT scores for our juniors, all of whom took the test in the spring. Our district average is 22, compared to the state average of 19.4 for all juniors. Across the nation, including not just 11th graders but students of all grades, the average was 21.

In addition to our traditionally high ACT scores, we are one of only a small percentage of districts nationwide that has been recognized 3 times by the College Board for the successes of our high school students completing college level work.   We have received this distinction because of the increasing number of students who take and pass Advanced Placement courses in high school. Advanced Placement classes are designed to be college level work and we encourage every student to take as many as possible even if it's only one.

While our fiscal outlook looks promising for this year, unfunded state mandates will increase our expenses greatly in fiscal year 2016, enough so that it is doubtful even a large tax rate increase next August would make up the deficit. These unfunded mandates are part of why Kentucky's legislature received an F in education spending in the 2014 Quality Counts report. Kentucky’s spending per pupil is more than $1,400 less than the national average.

The failure of our state to fulfill its obligation to adequately and equitably fund schools places the burden to fund schools squarely on our local communities and boards of education throughout the state. Nearly half of the funding our schools operate on come from those of us who own property and pay property taxes. Ten years ago, we received $4,364 per student in SEEK funding from the state. Now, in the wake of the most sweeping education reform Kentucky has seen since 1989, we receive only $3,664 per pupil from the state. Local boards of education are seeing their funding decrease and the burdens placed on them and our teachers from leaders at the state and national level. Next year alone, our district will face an estimated $2 million deficit because of these and other unfunded mandates.

The revenue we collect from local property taxes stays right here in our classrooms. Your property taxes fund your classrooms. When compared to the 173 school districts in Kentucky, there are 53 other districts who receive a higher percentage of money for their general fund for salaries and other operating expenses, including Henry, Shelby, Trimble, Nelson and Jefferson.

We take seriously our responsibility to operate efficiently so we can focus on supporting our teachers and students — and get results. Oldham County Schools has been recognized twice as a top-performing district in efficient use of funds and “academic return on investment.” This is based on two independent studies (2010 by the American Progress Institute and 2012 by the Bluegrass Institute) that compared the revenue available and results achieved based on measures of student learning. The “Bang For Your Buck” report by the Bluegrass Institute ranked Oldham County as the fifth most efficient district in the state — and the largest district by far in the top 10. You can find links to both reports on our website.

We have cut nearly $5.4 million from our budget in the past five years. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, only 1.5 percent of our budget is spent on district administration, well below the state average of 2.27 percent.

We are also working closely with the Oldham County Education Foundation ( to increase private donations and grants to support our teachers and initiatives like Camp Literacy Live (a summer reading program for struggling readers entering 1st grade) and our engineering academy. We are pleased to see the amount of money generated by the community members who serve on the OCEF board double in the past year.

So, why are we recommending an unpopular tax increase this year and how much will it cost you, our local taxpayer? The second half is easy: $31 more for every $100,000 in property valuation. For the average Oldham County homeowner, it’ll be about $62 more per year.

The first part of that question has a longer answer. Even though we have cut expenses to every area in order to protect classrooms at the highest possible level, legislators continue to pass the buck to school districts to pay for the ever-increasing burdens they place on our teachers. Take the state’s newly-mandated Professional Growth Effectiveness System, a teacher and principal evaluation process which will increase the amount of time teachers will have to spend submitting data and reports to the state, even though it is local school district’s responsibility to hire, train and evaluate teachers — something we were already doing successfully here in Oldham County.

Our teachers deserve a raise. We have high expectations for our teachers and they consistently step up, meeting and exceeding our expectations. We have the state's highest percentage of teachers who are National Board Certified and 42 percent hold Rank 1 certification, meaning they have their Master’s degree plus at least 30 additional hours of graduate coursework. However, our salaries are lagging behind surrounding school districts. We are recommending a tax increase so we can give our teachers a much deserved raise and pay them a more competitive salary. We can’t fund this increase using one-time funds, such as our contingency fund or capital fund transfers from our building fund, as that puts us back into an unstable financial situation of funding recurring expenses with non-recurring funds—a situation we are just now recovering from.

We appreciate our community’s support for our schools. In fact, 98 percent of our teachers reported they feel supported by our community when surveyed last year. Since the state legislature has not stepped up to fund schools at an adequate level, we are placed in this position — like districts across the Commonwealth — to generate more revenue at the local level in order to provide our students the excellent education we expect and provide. Your support of a tax increase is your opportunity to invest in our community’s future.

I encourage you to learn more. Don’t let your questions go unanswered. You can access more information on our website at and can reach out to us directly if you need more information.

  • We receive funding from three key revenue streams: local (43 percent of funding), state (52 percent) and federal (5 percent) sources.
  • Oldham County receives less state funding than almost every other district — less than all but 20 other Kentucky school districts, or 152nd out of 173. The primary source of state funding, SEEK, allocates less to OCS because the district has fewer students with costly needs. 
  • The state provides just over 50 percent of our revenues, despite mounting obligations that cost us both time and money. 
  • A portion of the local tax revenue generated must be set aside for the building fund per state law. These funds are used to pay the debt service on existing building, as well as pay for renovations, repairs and new construction. 
  • A number of entities levy property taxes — there are about 17 different groups who collect property taxes in Oldham County, including fire departments, the health department, the library and municipalities. 
  • Kentucky boards of education can raise taxes up to an amount that would yield 4 percent more revenue each year without a referendum — that’s 4 percent more revenue, not a 4 percent higher rate. Any proposed increase requires a public hearing. 
  • Oldham County property assessments continue to decline, although new growth is increasing. 
  • Last year, OCS was joined by more than half of Kentucky districts that adopted a tax rate increase that would yield 4 percent more revenue. This is a sign that decreased state and federal funding, additional unfunded mandates and mounting expenses continue to sap district coffers and negatively impact student learning.

  • Homes in highly-regarded school districts command a premium when being sold — as much as 11 percent, according to a 2010 study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review. The study found that homes in a district with test scores 5 percent higher than average sold for $16,000 more. 
  • Oldham County Schools’ “return on investment” — or “bang for your buck” — is at the top among all other districts. This is based on two independent studies (2010 by the American Progress Institute and 2012 by the Bluegrass Institute) that compared the revenue available and results achieved based on measures of student learning. 
  • Our expenses increase every year in ways we can’t control by about $1 million, primarily through salary step raises and benefit contributions mandated — but unfunded — by the state. Other mandates, like Senate Bill 1 “Unbridled Learning,” increase expenses through necessary training and implementation. 
  • Without an increase in revenue, we will have to further reduce expenditures by cutting more teachers and eliminating programs ahead of the increased expenses in the 2015-16 school year.

Click here to download  Financial Update 2014 Packet  - PDF

Oldham County Schools Logo               6165 W. Highway 146      |     Crestwood, KY  40014    |     Phone: 502-241-3500     |     Main Fax: 502-241-3209