Fayette County school board rejects budget proposal

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It's back to the drawing board for the superintendent and the Fayette County Board of Education. The board rejected the superintendent's budget proposal to fix a $20 million deficit. It included millions of dollars in cuts.

Board members talked about the budget during a meeting that turned tense at times. Now they're running out of time to reach an agreement.

No matter whether you support it, it was clear at Monday night's Fayette County school board meeting that handling the budget is not an easy task.

"We're all very grateful for what you've done," said one man in the audience. "You've done it fearlessly, not perfectly."

"The special education cuts are what we think might be a little bit disproportionate in cuts that are in the budge," said a woman attending the meeting.

"I understand it's very difficult, and I know no one would trade places with you," said another woman signed up to speak.

At one point, the school board meeting got very tense, specifically between two board members.

"I'm asking him (Superintendent Tom Shelton). I'm not asking you. I'm asking him," said Amanda Ferguson, a board member.

"You are out of order in speaking like that," said Melissa Bacon, the vice chair of the board.

"So much for open and honest," said Ferguson.

Two to two the motion didn't carry to pass Superintendent Tom Shelton's proposed budget plan for the next school year, requiring a unanimous vote.

"We put the focus on trying to save as many jobs as we can," said Superintendent Tom Shelton. "We only actually had to reduce 60 positions."

"I can't support any budget which I feel will negatively impact those students falling within various achievement gaps because of socioeconomic status or disability," said Douglas Barnett, a board member.

While the board can't meet everyone's needs or make everyone happy, the superintendent is trying to stick to his proposed plan and feels it is what's best for the district.

"We believe this budget has met the priorities, but that's subject to the board approval obviously," said Supt. Shelton.

Now more meetings must be scheduled since the board of education is required by law to adopt a budget plan by May 30.

No one offered any specific solutions or changes that could be made to the budget at Monday night's meeting. The superintendent tells us he expects to have another school board meeting before the end of the week.

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