Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed budget is drawing mixed reaction from the Kentucky School Boards Association. While the KSBA is glad the governor is promising to maintain per-pupil spending, the group has other concerns.
In his state of the commonwealth address Tuesday night, Bevin suggested schools consider dipping into their reserve funds to make up for any spending cuts they could see in the next year. Director of Governmental Relations for KSBA, Eric Kennedy, said not every school district would be able to follow the governor’s suggestion.
“A district that has a healthy prudent reserve, that is a good thing, and we don’t want it to be seen as being a bad thing,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said several districts are on a watch list, meaning their reserve funds are at, or near, zero. He said schools have to be prepared to pay for things ranging from a natural disaster that causes building damage, to an unexpected drop in funding.
Gov. Bevin also called for re-evaluating the pay of public school administrators. He wants every school board to reduce administrative expenses by about 12 percent in the first year, and another 12 percent in the second year.
Kennedy said many school districts are already operating on a tight budget.
“Many small school boards, many in the far reaches of the east and the western part of the state will just simply will not be able to make those cuts,” Kennedy said.
During his address, Bevin called into question the pay and importance of administrative staff at schools. Kennedy said administrators such as principals, guidance counselors and nurses have a big impact on everyday learning in the classroom.