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Newport Superintendent: We are Not Scared, We are Not Backing Off

Newport independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton has joined with other superintendents all over Northern Kentucky to protest Governor Matt Bevin's proposed budget cuts for the educational system throughout the state.

Together with the Kentucky Education Action Team, which is made up of over 130,000 active and retired school employees, and thousands of parents, elected school leaders, administrators, and community partners, the superintendents want to help remind the state government of section 183 of the constitution which provides for an "efficient system of common schools throughout the state," MIddleton said..

According to a landmark Supreme Court ruling made in 1989, every child in the Commonwealth must be provided with an equal opportunity to attain an adequate education. They said the key word was equality, that children in richer districts cannot have a better education than those children in poorer districts.   

The responsibility for this equality cannot be shifted to the local counties and local school districts.

It is stated that House Bill 200, which is Governor Bevin's proposed budget, clearly shifts the responsibility to provide for each child's education to the local communities, and thus to local taxpayers, KEAT members believe. They say that  the budget "would seriously hinder education advancement in our Commonwealth".   

Some school leaders believe that the proposed budget could bring some districts to the brink of insolvency and closure.

"What they're doing is causing a disruption of education," said Middleton. "The legislators don't have any idea of what goes into running the district. I think they are putting a shot across the bow. But we're not scared, we are not backing off."

He said all the school districts are asking people to call their representatives and senators to try and stop all the cuts from happening.

"They say they're going to make cuts, but they've already made cuts and have been cutting," said Middleton. "I don't think it's going to pass, because they said they were going to have a special session last year, and they didn't, and then they were supposed to have the first two weeks of this session dedicated to the budget problem and they didn't. But now everybody is worried about their jobs. And the sad part is that the whole thing is affecting the kids."

At the regular school board meeting in January, the board passed the first draft of the budget, but Middleton said it is so early, and so many things are still not decided in Frankfort that the numbers are not certain by any extent. But he hopes that the documents that the superintendents have created as a protest will make a difference.  

"All together, we have a pretty clear voice," said Middleton. "We are all together, even if they try to divide us, they won't be able to."

​Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor