By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
PIKEVILLE, Ky. - The Pike County Board of Education commended educators for learning to do more with less in the face of cuts to state funding Wednesday.
“One of the most important duties of our Board is to develop and pass a budget,” BOE member Chuck Johnson said. “It has been difficult to do more will less resources. We just had massive layoffs in the coal industry. These are difficult times.”
Since 2008, the state has substantially reduced state funding. The Kentucky Education Action Team (KEAT) says teachers have had to redesign instruction to ensure students meet new goals adopted to ensure they are prepared for a post-secondary education.
Among the areas hit by reduced funding are technology and internet access, family resource centers, tutoring and alternative schools. Money for textbooks has be eliminated completely. Cuts to preschool funding have been deeper than cuts to K-12 funding.
Pike BOE Superintendent Roger Wagner explained the Board has managed to keep Pike County Schools in the black due to cost cutting measures such as not replacing teachers who retire, and that the Board has not laid off any full time teachers.
The Pike BOE has several construction projects in different stages, from planning an addition and alternate traffic for Southside Elementary to and new school at Phelps.
“People ask how we can afford all this construction if our budget is so tight,” Wagner said. “But that is a separate budget, separate money.”
Architects gave reports on construction at the various sites throughout the county at the meeting, noting that all projects are moving at or slightly behind schedule.
Board member Virgil Osborne said hopes Pike BOE staff can weather the budgetary confines.
“I hope all our teachers realize there may not be raises,” Osborne said. “We still have to provide a quality education for our kids. If we’re optimistic, things might get better.”