The Kentucky Department of Education has appointed a state manager for the Monticello Independent school district.
The agency said in a statement Wednesday that 29-year-old veteran educator James Hamm would begin his duties immediately. Hamm was originally assigned to the district late last year by Department of Education as an education recovery leader.
That move came when the Kentucky Board of Education placed the district under state assistance in December, after an audit showed failures in governance, finance and personnel operations at the district.
The Board approved a state takeover this month after further analysis showed the district was on the brink of closure due to its poor financial state.
The Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday rescued a small southern school district from the brink of closure, voting to allow emergency funds to be used to pay the bills in what members called an unprecedented move by the state.
Under the agreement, the state Department of Education will likely lend the Monticello Independent school district at least $1 million to keep its three schools open until the end of the school year. The interest-free loan will come out of the state's rainy day fund and will have to be repaid within five years, said associate commissioner Hiren Desai.
Desai said without the help, the district would not have been able to make payroll Feb. 28.
"Quite frankly, time is of the essence," Desai told members at a special meeting in Frankfort.
The State Board of Education will meet in special session Wednesday to consider taking over management of a southeast Kentucky school system. The Monticello Independent school district has waived its right to appeal a state takeover. The problems plaguing Monticello schools are not academic.
A financial analysis by the Kentucky Department of Education finds enrollment is declining while expenditures remain too high for the size of the district.
A revenue forecast dated January 7 of this year estimates the general fund for Monticello will end the current school year with a negative balance of more than a million dollars. Additionally, the state last month had to advance over $700,000 to Monticello to continue operating and make payroll.