• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

School tax hearing set for Jan. 18

The Woodford County Board of Education voted on Monday to schedule a public hearing on a proposed 5.5 cent facilities tax to pay for a new high school. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 in the Woodford County High School library. The board could vote to proceed with a facilities tax after the public hearing. During a brief discussion before agreeing on a date for the hearing, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins informed board members Margie Cleveland, Debby Edelen and Karen Brock “if we go lower than 5.5 cents we’re not even eligible for any state matching dollars.” By approving a 5.5 cent tax, he said those dollars would be restricted to new construction and other building projects. Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith described 5.5 cent tax as the nickel equivalent for Woodford County schools based on the state’s calculations for each local school district. A 5.5 cent facilities tax rate will generate a little more than $45 million in bonding potential with a 20-year bond or about $53 million in bonding potential over 25 years, Hawkins told board members. With the previously-discussed 6 cent facilities tax rate, he said the district’s bonding potential would have been $53 million with a 20-year bond. “So we get to the same point,” he explained, “it’s just over a 25-year period as opposed to a 20-year period.” Hawkins pointed out that a 25-year bond will also generate enough dollars so the board can deal with facility needs that may arise during the next update of the district facilities plan in 2021. One example of future needs, a middle school that will be 17 years old and may need some upgrades by then, he said. Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV and Sherri Springate were not present during Monday’s meeting. The board previously agreed to schedule a public forum at WCHS prior to the upcoming public hearing. No action was taken on finalizing a date for the forum. At earlier meetings, the Board of Education discussed enacting a 6 cent facilities tax rate to pay for a new high school and on-campus athletic facilities. But after people in the community raised issue with building athletic facilities when those facilities already exist at Woodford County Park, the board had discussions on lowering the tax rate and not including some athletic facilities in the new high school project. The school district has a lease agreement with Woodford Fiscal Court to use the county-owned Community Stadium for high school football and soccer games until 2023. The board approved a calendar for the 2018-19 school year, with classes slated to start on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. The approved calendar, which was recommended by the district’s calendar committee, schedules fall break on Oct. 8 to 12, winter break on Dec. 20 to Jan. 1 and spring break on April 1 to 5. The school year is scheduled to end on May 22, with the first three makeup days on May 23, May 24 and Feb. 18(Presidents’ Day).

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