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years we obtain facilities and add staff to accomodate population increases in
September that have been moved by military action by the following February. We
are currently attempting to plan building facilities to accomodate our growing pop
ulation that could exceed $3,000,000 in the next two and one half years. If the
military operations at Fort Knox were to drastically change the nature of its popul
ation, the population that justified the construction of these facilities may no longer
be present to use them.
A private business would not and could not be expected to
make this type of investment in facilities without better assurances than impact
districts have in these situations. P. L. 874 payments can be justified in great part
to cover the cost to the local district of facing these and other uncertainties
imposed upon us by the nature of local federal activity.
The Hardin County School System has done everything possible to help itself
financially at the local level. For the past 35 years, it has levied the maximum
taxes allowed by law. It has continually issued revenue bonds to the maximum, and
in some instances has received permission to exceed the limit that is permitted by
law for the construction of new buildings. To provide an adequate program of education
for the local students of Hardin County and for those students who were placed in
Hardin County because of the activities of the federal government, the local board of
education has also levied a three per cent gross sales tax on utility bills, which was
made possible by the state legislature ten years ago.
Public Law 874 and 815 have been important factors in dealing with our rapid
growth and development. Without the aid of these laws, the children native to Hardin
County and the children of many military people and government employees would not have had the opportunity to attend schools with a quality educational program. This legislation has allowed local school authorities to spend the money to provide the best program possible for the children of Hardin County and for those children who
come to Hardin County because of the federal activities.
Hardin County and other heavily impacted districts in Kentucky have made every
effort availablė to them locally to provide programs for the children found within
their boundaries. Without continued P. L. 874 funding, Hardin County will have to increase its property tax levy by approximately 11.8 cents per $100 assessment with
our assessments being at 100% of value. This type of levy would constitute a 27 per
cent increase in the local property tax rate. This would not be permissable under existing law without a vote of the people. We have attempted a local tax increase referendum and it was turned down by the voters overwhelmingly. In view of these
possibilities, without continued federal support, we will be faced with drastic
reductions in programs and services. When it understands the issues and problems
faced by districts such as Hardin County, I feel that this Congress, as others have
done for over 25 years, will meet its responsibilities. In doing this, it will
provide us the means by which we can continue to offer a reasonable program of services
to the child who is moved about this world in the interest of the federal government.
I thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to be heard.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES AKINS, SUPERINTENDENT, HARDIN
COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ELIZABETHTOWN, KENTUCKY Mr. AKINS. Thank you, Mr. Perkins. It is a pleasure to appear before a committee chaired by a fellow Kentuckian. For those of you across the nation who appreciate this man, you should know the people in eastern Kentucky who appreciate him.
It is my pleasure to make some remarks on this matter relating to Hardin County. Hardin County is a school district comprising 600 square miles, and it contains about 85 to 90 percent of the Fort Knox reservation. We have about 10,000 pupils.
I have had the pleasure of working in this school district for the last 25 years. I came to the school district in 1952, when it comprised 600 square miles and 4,000 pupils. At that time approximately 32 percent of the population of the school system was impact students. Today, we have grown to almost 10,000 pupils, and we still have about 32 percent impact population.
In my opinion, this is about the only change that has occurred in the situation as far as we are concerned in Hardin County. We still are faced with the same problems that we were faced with in financing our educational system in 1952.
The Kentucky school local revenue picture is tied to the local property tax. We are faced with a continuing inequity across the state, running from, in 1976, about 1,200 and some dollars per pupil down to $480 per pupil in some of our poorer districts.
Hardin County is almost $100 per pupil under the state average, so that we are continually faced with a small tax base per pupil. The impact aid situation in the early “50's” constituted a dilution of the local property tax base. It continues to do this.
The situation in Hardin County and Christian County and Meade County is tied to the nature of the impact students that we receive. The highly mobile nature of these families in significant numbers dilutes our tax base because of the fact that by their nature, they generally occupy housing that is of less value than the average citizen of Hardin County.
We have a tremendous number of mobile homes. Only half or approximately half of these, according to the local tax commissioner, are on the tax rolls. In Kentucky, a mobile home is classified as personal property. Under the provisions of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act, they can have an option to pay their taxes in their home state residence.
Therefore, the tax commissioner finds it impractical to make any effort to obtain a substantial number of mobile homes on the tax roles. Even when he does obtain tax assessments for mobile homes, it comes out to a total school payment of about $18 per year. So, it is
a hardly worth the effort.
Those people who do not reside in mobile homes generally are in rental property because the average stay of these type students in our district is approximately two years. The rental property that is available is generally of less value and is assessed on the tax rolls at a lower figure than most of the other residential housing.
The other effect that continues to be present in Hardin County is the tax exempt commercial activities and service activities provided to members of the Armed Forces that tend to depress commercial development in the Fort Knox area.
We find very few commercial establishments that you would normally find in a community of nearly 18,000 people closely adjacent to the military post. It is impossible for these businesses to compete on a successful basis with nontaxpaying commercial establishments or service establishments that are provided on the post.
Another factor that I think affects the impact on our school system is the demographics of the population. Most of your military families who come to the Fort Knox area are in their working years. This is also the same years in which they would be rearing childen. So that we have a higher average family unit for military families in Hardin County than you would generally find in most communities.
Grandparents and uncles and aunts who do not have children do not come with these families. We feel like that our school population is larger than our general population would account for.
Another factor that continues to affect most school districts that are located adjacent to large military establishments are changes that occur because of actions of the Department of Defense from time to time that constitute major changes in our pupil population.
One change that occurred just recently, or in the last few years, was the creation of the all-volunteer Army. Prior to the creation of the all-volunteer Army, and the actions of the dependents or family housing authorities on Fort Knox, most of our impact in the Hardin County schools was concentrated in the lower grades because most of our people residing off post were in the lower ranks, or lower grades. Most of our impact was concentrated in the first six grades at least.
The volunteer Army tended to change some of this, and the actions on the part of the housing authorities in 1973 and 1974– went from heavy impaction in grades one through four to a concentration or an increase of almost 300 pupils in grades eight through 12, and a reduction I think of about 160 pupils in grades 1 through 7.
This happened at the same time that we were maintaining in the remainder of the county away from or several miles from the Fort Knox base, we were staying at about a stable growth rate in both elementary and secondary levels.
In 1976, in February, the 19th Brigade was operating at less than 30 percent strength. By December of that year, they had increased the strength of the Brigade to 111 percent of the normal strength for a brigade. During this period, in the schools immediately adjacent to the Fort Knox post we had a growth of 206 pupils. 206 pupils constitutes a pretty good sudden increase in the cost factors for a local school district.
The changes in the numbers, the uncertainty of the pupils being in your district after you have constructed facilities and so on, constitutes what we would like to have insurance for. I think we need an insurance factor for something that would allow us to plan and develop facilities to take care of our educational needs.
We are in the process now of planning and developing construction costs in excess of $3 million in our school district. I think it would be unusual if you could find a private endeavor that would spend these kinds of funds without any more assurances than we have in Hardin County that the students will still be there.
These things are things that affect our local tax base, as they did in 1952, and as they still do today.
Chairman PERKINS. Let me thank you very much.
Our next witness is Mr. Sydney Williams, Newport School Department, Newport, Rhode Island
I want to tell you, Mr. Williams that Senator Pell and I have had the privilege of working together for many, many years. There has never been a more devoted Senator in Washington that has been of greater assistance to this program and all other education programs, than Senator Pell. We intend to continue to work together for the betterment of education in the future.
I just wanted to mention that to Mr. Williams, coming from the Newport School Department.
You may proceed. Without objection your prepared statement will be inserted in the record.
[The statement of Mr. Williams follows:]