Wayne County Schools are prepared to make a significant investment in community workforce development through the construction of a new early college and career center to replace and expand the existing Wayne County Area Technology Center. In order to secure additional state funding for this project, the district must levy an additional facilities tax that will open the door for the state legislature to authorize equalization funding and significantly increase the district’s capacity to meet facility needs.
Many school systems across the state have already taken advantage of this funding opportunity, which requires the local board of education to enact a 5.9 cent per $100 assessed property facility tax. When equalized by the general assembly, this tax will result in $1.47 of additional state funding for every $1 raised locally. The revenue generated by this tax would increase the district’s bonding potential from its current level of six million dollars to approximately thirty million. These funds would be used to construct the early college and career center and meet various other facility needs within the district. None of this tax increase can go towards salaries. It only goes towards renovations and building projects.
A new early college and career center is important if the local community is to have a highly skilled work force to meet the jobs of tomorrow, so graduates are not compelled to leave their hometown to seek employment. In light of the local economic climate, the need has never been more urgent.
The Wayne County Board of Education will be holding a public hearing on June 15th at the Central Office Building at 6:00 p.m. to hear comments regarding the proposed general fund tax levy of 50 cents on real property and 50 cents on personal property; compared to 44.1 cents on real property and 44.1 cents on personal property in 2016.
Based on the Property Valuation Administrator’s estimates, the average homeowner’s property in Wayne County is valued at $58,000, so a 5.9 cent per $100 assessed value real estate tax levy would cost an additional $34.22 annually. According to the Kentucky Department of Education data, only 22 out of 173 school districts currently have levied a lower real estate tax rate than Wayne County.
The 22,417 square foot Area Technology Center located on the Wayne County Schools campus was built in 1971. While it has been expertly cared for over the years, it has never had any significant upgrades and major renovations are needed to modernize the facility. Moreover, the facility does not meet the needs for newly designed classrooms and labs that will benefit students. The local vocational school has done a wonderful job educating students for fields in everything from welding to auto mechanics to health services – but future programs will reach even more specialized fields that have not yet been determined, most likely coupled with advanced technology. Schools have to plan for these changes, so they can effectively educate this next generation of students.
The school district shares the concerns and burden facing the local community to improve economic development. The district’s goal with this project is to make a renewed investment in developing a skilled workforce that will allow Wayne County students as well as the community as a whole to benefit for years to come.