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Ken Rechtin's Another Voice: How Much Are You Paying for Underperforming Schools in NKY?

“Mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Last Wednesday I felt like Howard Beale, the news anchor in the 1976 movie Network. In the movie, because of his declining ratings, Howard is told he will have only two more weeks as anchor. Beale then launches into a rather long rant about many societal problems of the day. His best line is one that is quoted often: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

And, that’s exactly how I felt!

What made me feel this way?

Two unrelated things happened on Wednesday:

The Kentucky Department of Education released the School District rankings.

And...

I received my property tax bill from the City of Newport.

Since I write for readers here in NKY, here is the ranking of our public schools in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties (I eliminated all the other districts for sake of simplicity.):

I ask you to focus your attention on the last column on this chart. That number is the ranking of your school district as compared to all the 173 districts in our state.

As you will note, two of our NKY districts, Fort Thomas and Beechwood Independents, finished number one and number two! In the fourth column, you will note that these two districts finished second and fourth in the prior year! Congratulations go to those two districts! They must be doing a lot right!

Into the above chart, I inserted a blank row right after Ludlow Independent’s ranking. This blank row would indicate the midpoint. Half of the state’s school districts are above this imaginary line and half are below. Seven of our NKY districts are above this line and seven are below. All three of the NKY county districts ranked well above the midline!

(I live and pay taxes within the Newport Independent School District.)

Remember, I said that there were two unrelated things that happened on Wednesday!

Last Wednesday, I also received the City of Newport’s invoice for their services, aka my property tax bill. The City of Newport’s invoice includes both the city’s invoice as well as an invoice from the Newport Independent School District. While I will not go into the amounts of the bill, I will say that the Newport Independent School District got 71% of the total bill!

Seeing that my school district consumes 71% of my tax dollars made me search for and chart the property tax rates for all the school districts in NKY. The three NKY county school districts have relatively low school property tax rates: Boone’s is .62 per $100 of valuation, Campbell is .61 and Kenton is .59.

So, how do the independent school districts stack up? The three high ranking districts’ property tax rates are: Fort Thomas at 1.00 per $100 of value, Beechwood at .83 and Walton Verona at 1.09. These appear relatively high compared to the county schools. But, remember that these three schools are ranked first, second and seventh in the entire state! I think that the taxpayer would accept the higher rate for the performance of the school district.

So what about the tax rates of the bottom seven districts, ranked 125th and below in the state? How do they compare? The following districts ranked from 125th to Newport’s finish of 172nd.

OK, here they are from lowest to highest:

Bellevue School District’s property tax rate is .803 per $100.00 value.

Erlanger – Elsmere School District’s is .849 per $100 value.

Newport’s is .97 per $100 of value.

Dayton’s is 1.08 per $100.

Southgate’s is 1.04 per $100.

Covington’s rate is 1.13 per $100.

Silver Grove’s rate is 1.29 per $100 of value.

So what made me mad as hell is that 71% of my property taxes go to a district that ranks 172 out of 173 districts! I don’t believe any PR firm can effectively put a positive spin on this.

I challenge readers who live and pay taxes to these seven independent districts who are ranked below the midline to look at their property tax bill and examine what portion of your money goes to the school district and what portion to your city.

Now, ask yourself the following questions:

“Why does (insert your school district name here) Independent School District exist?"

“What value does having your ‘Independent School District’ bring to our children or to the taxpayer?”

“Is this the most efficient use of your contribution?”

“Is there a better way?”

Please tell me what you think!

The views and opinions expressed here in “Another Voice” do not reflect the views or opinions of The River City News, its owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of Ken Rechtin. If you wish to make comment to Another Voice, Ken can be reached via email at [email protected] or you may leave a comment here. All rights to use of Another Voice in any fashion are retained by Ken Rechtin. Please contact him for any use of his columns.