Legacy of KERA’s school funding reverse inequity

– Top district in state may have to house students in trailers

A huge failing in the Seeking Excellence in Education in Kentucky (SEEK) formula for school funding is that it has failed to equitably support school districts with rapidly increasing enrollment. A number of those rapid growth districts are located in Northern Kentucky.

Now, nky.com, a Web service from the Kentucky Enquirer, reports that students in one of Kentucky’s top performing school districts, the Fort Thomas Independent School District, may be housed in trailers next year.

At least one other Northern Kentucky district, the Boone County Public School District, already houses students in makeshift facilities. I confirmed that with the district’s superintendent, Randolph (Randy) J. Poe, last week at the governor’s TEK Task Force news conference.

What really makes this an unfair situation is that while Northern Kentucky taxpayers already pay much more in local school taxes than most other regions of the state, Northern Kentucky also provides an inordinate percentage of the overall tax revenue that Frankfort collects. So, the fact that Northern Kentucky districts aren’t getting adequate support dollars to properly house their students is an easy to understand lesson – some regions of the state are simply bleeding other areas with inequitable collection and distribution of state tax money.

For those who can see beyond their own noses, this serious failing in SEEK poses a threat to the entire state. School districts like Fort Thomas have been very successful at attracting highly educated fathers and mothers to Kentucky. Those well-educated parents help boost the entire state’s economy in many ways, not the least being the fact that they generally supply more tax dollars.

But, highly educated parents are less likely to move into any school district that has serious overcrowding and substandard classroom facilities.

So, down state selfishness and greed threatens more than Northern Kentucky school systems – it threatens the entire state’s ability to grow and expand in a national and world economy that demands higher education every year from those who want to successfully compete.