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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Fact or Fiction? A Bill Has Been Filed That Would Merge All County and Independent School Districts

Toby Herald (R - Beattyville) has created a stir by sponsoring a bill that would merge all current county and independent school districts into 55 districts as well as abolish existing local boards of education and establish 55 boards of education.

The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee, has no co-sponsor and no details have been hashed out among local officials.

But that hasn't stopped social media wave of speculation and how that could affect local school districts, including the recently named best school district in the state: Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

The Fort Thomas Independent Schools board chair, Jeff Beach, said that he doesn't think this bill is is a good fit for Fort Thomas.

“We have been assured from our representatives in Frankfort that our board will remain under local control. Fort Thomas deserves and will stand alone if for no other reason than the community has clearly spoken with their tax dollars, not to mention our education foundation, which enhances and develops our school district. They have chosen that this is the type of school district they want to have,” said Beach.

Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) backed up Beach's statement, saying that he would error on the side of local control.

"The goal of creating efficiency in education is our constitutional duty. However, I am inclined to leave the idea of merger of local school districts to the voters in those districts,” he told Fort Thomas Matters. 

"Fort Thomas Independent Schools receive strong financial support and community buy-in from our residents. So with regard to merging, this bill doesn’t make sense for our district,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent. “Our residents are happy, our finances are solid and our results speak for themselves.” 

Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) provided some more context on Herald's bill, taking to his Facebook page to clear up misconceptions he had heard on social media. He said that he had read comments that insinuate that he supported merging the Erlanger-Elsmere school district.

"That is categorically false," noted Koenig.

But while he flatly denied his support for merging that school district, he said that the conversation to address districts which are financially struggling should continue.

"We have 174 school districts in this state, nine of which do not have enough money to finish out the year. Tax dollars from all across the state will probably go to bail them out," he said in a Facebook post. "I feel the state needs to have a serious conversation about whether those school districts need to stay in business going forward. Given the state is broke and once again (northern Kentucky) tax dollars will be flowing to other parts of the state to bail them out, I think this is a fair and reasonable policy discussion to be had." 

Fort Thomas Matters will continue to follow the progress of this bill.

1 comment:

  1. The term Commonwealth implies commonality of wellbeing through shared resources and mutual support. Clearly we must ascertain greatest need and greatest benefit for public spending. We are a wealthy district: "the community has clearly spoken with their tax dollars, not to mention ... our education foundation to enhance and develop our school district." We are free to do so with private funds and local taxes. But it is wrong to demand or expect favoritism from the state.