Failed Graves Referendum May Result in Cuts, Fuels School Funding Debate

Nov 13, 2013


Graves County Schools Superintendent Kim Harrison says budget cuts are likely to allocate funding for much-needed facility repairs at school sites.

Harrison's statement comes a day after a proposed 18 percent property tax increase failed in a county-wide special election. Harrison says the money was needed to qualify for a state matching grant.

But now, residents’ taxes will only raise 4 percent by state law, and Harrison says that’s just not enough.

"We will try to make cuts wherever necessary and address issues as soon as possible, because, you know, if you delay maintenance and things it creates larger issues down the road for your facilities," she says.

Harrison says the district will conduct some efficiency studies to determine which areas of the budget can be tightened.

The district was seeking the 6.9 cents per $100 tax hike to pay for a new heating and air system in the high school and renovations or replacement of an aging elementary school.

But Graves County’s state Representative is advocating for public-private partnerships to restore education funding without taxes.

Republican Richard Heath says a state Chamber of Commerce proposal to privatize state functions like lottery management and park operations could allow for more education dollars.

Last month, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday called on legislators to restore funding to their 2008 levels. Heath says he thinks the private sector could help.

"Other states have been successful at pulling together these public-private partnerships, and I would hope that our state takes a hard look at that during this budget year, and then re-prioritize some of the money that they do have and restore funding statewide," he says. 

Heath says he believes more efficient state operations would allow for better education funds without raising taxes.