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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scott Johnson Talks School Funding

Scott Johnson has taken me up on my request for a final appeal to voters and wants your vote for re-election to the school board:

In my first term, I have researched the SEEK funding formula and documented that the state share of our budget has declined 20%, (to 36%) while the local share has increased 20% to 61%.

By state law, our schools are to be structured under a "state system of common schools"...."funded primarily by the state"...."supplemented by local tax dollars." With local taxpayers picking up 61% of the funding share, (and increasing every year) it's like being invited to dinner and getting stuck with the tab!

If re-elected, I will continue to press this issue, in particular, I will be looking for support for a legal budget, (can't be funded directly by the District) which Dana Deering estimates at $250K. Although a huge sum, (these days or any day) this amount pales in comparison to the $8m directly or indirectly raised for the renovation for Highlands - especially when the payoff could be $3.3 million in state-funded operating revenue PER YEAR, (20% of the district budget).

In addition, based upon contact with comparably impacted districts, (like Beechwood, Boone County, Kenton County, Campbell County, etc.) the prospects are good for a "legal / lobby" joint venture. While decreasing our local costs associated with overdue action, (reaction) it would also likely add weight to our argument.

Whether we win or lose any legal action, such action would provide members of the General Assembly, ("Re-Election, Inc.: No New Taxes") with the "political cover" necessary to get them off the dime to do what they know must be done, (as was the case with the 1990 Education Reform Act). It is the legal responsibility of the General Assembly, not Fort Thomas taxpayers, to "adequately" and "equitably" fund Fort Thomas Schools.

As Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate responded to our Amicus Brief nearly four years ago, (February, 2007) “We believe it is within our power to declare the SEEK formula, as it operates today, unconstitutional”,

In looking ahead two weeks to the election on November 2, I would appreciate your support in keeping this issue at the front of the District and Legislative agenda. If you live in Fort Thomas, whether you have kids in the system or not, you have a horse in this race.

Whether we each think that the District should increase the pace at which our, (up to 90 year old) buildings are replaced, that our curriculum should be bolstered or broadened to better address the needs of all students or that we should better enhance the athletic opportunities afforded our students, the abysmal lack of funding afforded by Frankfort stands as a challenge that must be overcome sooner rather than later.

By way of perspective, consider that the class of 2011 will be the NINTH class to go from KINDERGARTEN to COLLEGE while our district has continued to lose money from what is, Constitutionally, our PRIMARY source of funding: Frankfort. How much longer should we wait for the General Assembly to move on this question?

Thank you for your time, attention and support. Thank you, also, for being the sort of parent that yields the Fort Thomas students and graduates that result in spite of, rather than because of, the level of support that we receive from Frankfort.

Should any questions or concerns arise from your end, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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