by Michael Monks
@theRCnews on Twitter
Critics have lashed out over a $10,000 pay raise. Citizens want answers over a 4% increase on property taxes. A Louisville-based blog continues with out-of-context attacks. Even an alleged office remodel has caught fire with a handful of posters on Facebook. It has been a busy week for Covington Independent Public Schools Superintendent Lynda Jackson. And today is only the second day of school.
"I'm very passionate about making sure the students have everything they need," Jackson said today in her office during an exclusive one-on-one interview with The River City News. "I'm in the schools daily. I can't apologize for fighting for these kids because they are our children, they live here in this city and they deserve to have what every other child has."
Last week, Covington's school board voted 3 - 1 (with one member absent) to increase property taxes 4%, a move that caused some outcry in the online community and even led one City Commissioner to call for a state audit of the district.
"We are already audited every year as part of the Kentucky Department of Education requirements," Jackson said. "What I'm going to do is put (the auditor's annual report) on the website for people to read." School district budgets are very complex with funds coming from different sources, Jackson said. For example, the general fund comes from tax revenue, there is money from the state dependant upon enrollment numbers, and then federal money is used for free and reduced lunch programs.
The 4% increase is expected to generate a little more than $800,000 toward the overall $16 million that comes from property taxes. Without the full 4% increase, the maximum allowed by state law without direct voter approval, the district would have had to make budget cuts from $140,000 - $612,000, or more with no increase at all.
"Most school districts are only budgeting for 95% of what they need because of the economic shortfall," Jackson said. "We have to make sure that we can continue to provide the services to the students. We felt like we had to take 4% and most districts did take (the increase)."