FRANKFORT, Ky. — Legislation that would set aside $7 million in surplus SEEK funds for emergency loans to financially-strapped school districts is on its way to the state Senate.
The $7 million in excess 2017-2018 Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, the main funding source for K-12 public schools, would be made available to around 12 school districts out of an existing but never-before-used state emergency revolving school loan fund account under House Education Committee Chair Rep. John Carney’s House Bill 141.
The loans would be limited to $500,000, and would have to be repaid within five years at zero interest, said Carney, R-Campbellsville. More than one loan could possibly be provided to a district, depending on the circumstances.
Carney called HB 141 a “short term” solution for the districts, most of which are in Eastern Kentucky counties hard hit by changes in the coal industry.
Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, said a drop in the assessed value of unmined minerals in coal counties has left school districts in dire financial straits. Knott County in his district has lost over $1 million this year alone, Blanton said. Pike County, he said, will lose more than $3 million.
“It’s been a financial hardship. They’re making every cut they can until they can’t cut anymore,” said Blanton.