Kentucky education board seeks money for emergency loan fund

Published 4:44 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

HYDEN (AP) — The Kentucky Board of Education is asking the General Assembly to appropriate money for an emergency loan fund to support school districts facing serious financial challenges as revenue from taxes on unmined coal declines.

Under state law, districts can participate in an emergency loan fund, yet no funds have been appropriated, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday.

The state board of education wants the General Assembly to find money for the fund and provide specifics on how struggling districts can participate. Board members haven’t yet specified an amount.

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“I do think that the emergency loan for school districts in great need is a much-needed initiative,” Leslie County Schools Superintendent Linda Rains said. “Several districts will possibly benefit from this opportunity since so many of the Eastern Kentucky coal counties are indeed suffering financially.”

Local school districts that rely upon taxing unmined coal are seeing their revenues drop as property assessments are reduced. Fourteen local school districts were affected by a loss of at least $100,000. Knott County lost more than $1 million, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said in a Dec. 6 report to the state board.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel said finding any new money is going to be almost impossible because of pension obligations, and the growth in Medicaid spending and the cost of prisons.

“We want to work with the commissioner to find a resolution,” said State Rep. Steven Rudy, chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue committee.