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Fayette School Board considers property tax rate, grants COVID leave days

Josh James

Fayette County school leaders are weighing two options when it comes to setting local property tax rates.

Typically, every year the school board suggests a single proposed property tax rate for consideration to fund public schools.

"This is a routine matter that the board discusses annually and the choices board members face are based on a total value of property in their county," Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins explained.

The change this year: The school system is floating two options. One would result in a decrease for homeowners and another would make the rates a bit higher. Both options would fully fund the school system’s general operations, but the higher rate would create a dedicated fund for construction and renovation projects.

Board chair Tyler Murphy noted no decisions have been made yet and the board is welcoming input from the community.

"The options are out there and we encourage the community to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions with us at feedback@fayette.kyschools.us and we also invite the public to the hearing on September 8 at 6 PM," Murphy said.

Among the projects under consideration by the district are new middle and elementary schools on Polo Club Boulevard, a career and technical center on Midland Avenue, and a new Rise Academy for Girls.

As for the property tax question, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports option 1 would save the owners of a $100,000 home about $23, while option 2 would increase it by $25.

A final decision is expected after the September meeting.

In addition, the board approved five days of COVID-19 leave – for vaccinated employees only.

District leaders debated Monday whether to extend the COVID leave days to all employees, regardless of vaccination status, but ultimately opted to keep the vaccination language in recognition of employees who decided to take the precaution.

While spread of the disease is no longer as closely linked to vaccination, the level of sickness in vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals is still a factor.

"What swayed my opinion on this is the getting severely sick, which does affect our ability to keep the doors open and kids in school."
Fayette School Board Member Christy Morris

But the term “vaccinated” is also more complicated than it used to be. Board member Stephanie Spires raised that point.

"It's not as simple as when it was one shot, two shots," she noted. "Because some people are eligible for five shots and some people are only on their third shot. And then, you don't know necessarily because some of it is because of their medical conditions that they may not want to disclose."

Still, the board kept the provision in, tying the vaccinated definition to CDC and local health guidance. That will enable eligible teachers to use the COVID leave days without using up current or saved sick days.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.