School district could lose state funding

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CLARK COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) A central Kentucky school district is in danger of losing state funding.

Clark County schools received the warning in a letter from the state Wednesday.

Last year, the Kentucky Department of Education invested millions in the Clark County School District under the promise that the district would implement their district facilities plan.

The plan stated that they would use that money to renovate rundown schools, consolidate others and build a new high school.

But recently, that plan seems to have shifted.

“The local board of education decided to stop implementing the district facility plan and that is the point where the state department became involved,” said Associate State Education Commissioner Hiren Desai.

On Wednesday, board members received a strongly worded letter from the Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

“The letter stated that the district is required by state law to move forward with the plan which was approved by the local community in 2012. We gave them $21.9 million to do that and if they don’t move forward we'll stop funding them at the state level,” Desai said.

The letter outlined seven steps the board must take and if they don't---their state funding will stop.

Clark County Board Chairman Michael Kuduk says many folks worry about parts of the plan that involve closing four elementary schools and renovating the old high school to become a much larger middle school.

“Many members of our community have multiple issues with this. Some are opposed to the 1200 student middle school, and fear that the larger school will hamper academic achievement, reduce possibilities for athletic participation, and increase the at risk youth population,” Kuduk said.

He continued by saying, “Others strongly object to spending $38 million to renovate a 48 year old building (the old high school), and others are very concerned that a building with known asbestos will have renovations ongoing while students are in the building.”

Opponents of the plan say they are also against closing down small schools like Trapp Elementary because of the school's high test grades.

The state says the ball is now in the board of education's court.

The board can either choose to implement the facilities plan or figure out how to stay financially afloat without state funding.

“Currently, SEEK (state) funding represents about 50% of our general fund, which we use to pay salaries. By threatening to withhold SEEK money, the Department is holding our employees’ salaries hostage, which I do not appreciate. No, we would not be able to stay afloat for long without the SEEK funds, and that would likely result in a state takeover of the district,” Kuduk explained.

The Clark County Board of Education will meet on May 28th to discuss this issue.

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