Nothing is any more important to our state than safeguarding and educating our children. Kentucky will spend more than three billion taxpayer dollars this year on K-12 education. That’s a lot of money.
Because they control so much money, especially in eastern Kentucky, schools are also huge sources of power. They control access to success; educationally, economically, and socially, for many folks in small communities like ours.
Here in Knox County, our two school districts combined are by far the largest source of employment in our county. Because of the tremendous responsibility, financial resources, and power our school districts have, it is imperative that they also have public trust.
As we saw earlier this year, with some members of the Knox County board, a lack of transparency and trust can do more than damage reputations. It can lead to protests in the streets! We learned that a local board can force compliance but trust and respect must be earned.
So, I am glad Gov. Matt Bevin is once again requiring public school systems to disclose their financial information. For years state level educators and union leaders collaborated with politicians. They used the complex state budget bill to hide local school budget information and keep it deep in the recesses of their own websites.
Because of the governor’s strong commitment to transparency and accountability, now, in this newspaper, you can find detailed financial information for all our local school districts. It’s all out there in black and white. How refreshing, and what a great example for our children!
Our local schools are filled with many great, passionate teachers who work hard for their money. Most local school administrators make decisions based on what they truly believe is best for our children. All our education professionals have a great responsibility, and need our support.
But for those who fail to perform, won’t explain their actions, or seek to line their pockets, now they know we can all “follow the money.” And we are watching!
I think that’s as it should be. After all, schools exist to serve our children and are supported by our tax dollars. So we have every right to know what’s going on. And as they earn our trust, as they are open and honest with us, I believe we should, and will, reward them with our full support and gratitude.