District Budget Update 2014-15

Public hearing on 2014-15 tax rate set for Sept. 11

The Oldham County Board of Education will host a public hearing on tax rates for the 2014-15 school year at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Oldham County Schools Arts Center. Our mission is to ensure the learning of every child — but we can’t do it without you. As a resident of Oldham County, you’re our biggest investor — nearly half our funding comes from your tax dollars.  

Budget FAQ 

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

• How is the district funded?
Our general account is funded about 43 percent from local property taxes and about 52 percent from the state. 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 funding than all but 20 other Kentucky school districts.
 
Our 2013 tax rate of 73.4 cents is required to be split a certain way between our general fund and building fund. Of that amount, 51.3 cents goes into the general fund and 22.1 cents goes into the building fund. We rank 54th in terms of the amount collected for our general fund. Scroll down for more about the building fund and the “nickels” that go into it.

• Why do expenses keep going up?
Our expenses increase every year, including through salary and benefit contributions required by the state. Other mandates, like Senate Bill 1 "Unbridled Learning," increase expenses through necessary training and implementation.
 
• How is the district being fiscally responsible?
We pride ourselves on being good stewards of the public's money. The Bluegrass Institute, a free-market think tank based in Bowling Green, produced its second-annual "Bang for the Buck" report in 2012. The Center for American Progress also gave us high marks in a similar study.

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.

Last year, the district made $3 million in spending cuts. Because more than 80 percent of our general fund spending goes toward salaries and benefits, it was impossible to net enough savings without cuts to personnel.
 
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 outflow.
 
The district is also a state leader in energy efficiency and works hard to ensure we are keeping those costs down.
 
We are also pursuing outside funding, through grants and partnerships, to fund special programs like our Camp Literacy Live, the Reading Academy and the Engineering Academy.
 
• How would the district use additional revenues generated by a tax increase?
A tax increase in 2014 would go to increase teacher salaries. Our staff deserve to be compensated for their hard work and for the demands new state mandates put on them and their families. An additional 1% raise to all staff, excluding district administrators, would cost an estimated $625,000.
 
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 system will require them to spend additional time submitting reports and paperwork to the state department of education — meaning they 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, we must also pay a competitive wage that keeps them here. We are lagging behind many of our neighboring districts, including Shelby, Jefferson and Bullitt. 
 
• How much of the district’s budget is spent on administration?
According to 2013 audited reports available from KDE, our "district admin" category expenditures total $1,573,755 and our general fund expenses (lines 1000-3900) were $104,105,297, meaning about 1.5 percent of our general fund budget was spent on this category. The state average is about 2.27 percent. Per pupil, we have the 12th-lowest administrative expense 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.)
 
• Why does the district own vacant property?
Since the county began rapidly growing in the early 2000s, the district has acquired parcels of property, some of which are currently vacant. Some of that land has been donated — developers and residents can receive tax benefits from doing so, and it is also a way to support the district’s future growth.
 
The district has not purchased any property since 2010, when it purchased the Button Lane parcel to use for the annex and bus compound.
 
In summary, the district owns about 250 acres that are currently vacant. Of those, 70.74 acres were donated. The district is tax exempt and pays no property tax on any of its property. In addition, the district has plans for many of the parcels, including expansion of the East campus and construction of the Brownsboro campus at such time the district’s enrollment warrants those projects.
 
You can click here to view spreadsheets (PDF file) detailing the property owned by the district.
 
• Why doesn’t the board eliminate one of the “nickels” that goes into the building fund and move it to the general fund?
 
The board of education levies four “nickels” on property taxes. These are additional 5-cent taxes on property 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. 
 
• Why can’t we use the building fund for operating expenses?
The state requires those funds to be separate, and for a designated amount be delegated into the building fund. That building fund 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 for a fund transfer, but it must be approved by the state.

• Who sets my property taxes?

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 cities.

For the school district, the board of education sets the rate each fall, usually in early August or late July. The state department of education gives the board several options to consider and estimates of 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 requires a public referendum. Increases of less than 4 percent do not require a referendum but a public forum before the board votes is required. You can also share your opinion with your board member before that meeting.

• How is my property tax payment determined?
The Oldham County Property Valuation Administrator, a locally-elected official, assesses property value annually. Each home is physically examined every four years. Your property taxes are calculated based on this figure.

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

• I don't have kids in school, why do I pay taxes to the district?
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 your 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 Oldham County in the future.

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.

Many homeowners cite our school district as the reason they moved to Oldham County. By supporting the continued success of our district through your taxes, you ensure the value of your property in the future.

In addition, strong school districts lead to lower crime rates and better physical health — things we can all get behind.
 

 

   

District again ranked one of state’s top “bangs for your buck” 

budgetgraphic2smOldham County has a rich tradition of excellence in education and this year is proving to be no exception. We have all the members of our community to thank for our continued success.

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.

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

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.

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.

And while we've been in a buyer's market for several years, houses in good school districts tend to hold their value better overall, according to a Wall Street Journal article. For instance, in Irvine, Calif., average price per square foot fell 18 percent from 2006 to 2010 — but the larger metropolitan district surrounding Irvine saw prices fall 33 percent. Similarly, prices in the high-achieving Andover, Mass., district fell 4 percent, compared to more than 16 percent in Boston metro.

It is the same in Bellevue, Wash., a Seattle suburb with some of the state's best schools. A broker told the Wall Street Journal he doesn't think there's ever been a school levy on the ballot that's been turned down.

"Even residents who don't have school-age children tend to stand behind the schools," wrote article author Sarah Max. "It's not altruism; it's economics. All things being equal, homes in the Bellevue school district fetch as much as a 15 percent premium to those just outside of it."

We also pride ourselves on being good stewards of your money.

The Bluegrass Institute, a free-market think tank based in Bowling Green, produced its second-annual "Bang for the Buck" report in 2012.

The report evaluates the efficiency of Kentucky's schools by comparing each district's test scores (on the ACT) to their per pupil spending, producing a score-spending index ranking.

According to the report, Oldham County is the fifth most efficient district in the state — and the largest district by far in the top 10. The four schools with higher efficiency scores have between 600 and 2,400 students. 

The index ranking used our district's 2011 average ACT score and our total expenses per pupil in 2011. 

Our high levels of student achievement have been attained even though we are near the bottom in state operating revenues available annually to the district — about 18.5 percent less than the average district in Kentucky.

Our tax rate of 68.9 cents per $100 of real estate ranks 33rd in the state — Jefferson County Public Schools is now at 70 cents.

We remain fully committed to the education of every student in our district and maintaining the high standards we've established — but we know there are tough times ahead.

From 2008-2011, we cut $4.2 million from the budget. Now, we're proposing another $3 million in cuts. And based on revised enrollment projections, we're closing one elementary school and delaying the construction of another. 

The implementation of the state's Senate Bill 1, which brought the most sweeping reforms to Kentucky education since KERA, also brought with it a variety of increased expenses — all mandated by the state, but unfunded.

We're already seeing other districts make significant cuts — Greater Clark Schools, in Indiana, hopes to make $3 million in reductions to its general fund, including buyout packages to 29 educators and staff. Campbell County's board of education will reduce staff by 28 employees as part of $1 million in cuts — mostly because federal stimulus money has run out.

The pinch is being felt in Oldham County as well — those federal funds brought us more than $1 million per year for three years but ended last fiscal year.

As we balance decreasing revenues with increased expenses, know that we are searching for every expense we can eliminate without impacting instruction. 

Our school district is an integral part of our community — a community that stands behind and takes pride in its schools. As residents of Oldham County, we benefit from having a school system recognized throughout the state, and arguably the nation, as being exceptional. 

We take pride in our tradition of excellence and are committed to achieving our goal of providing a world-class education to our students and preparing them to be competitive in the 21st century global workforce.

Take pride in our schools and thank you for your continued support — our students thank you, too!

 

 

 

 

 

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