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STATEMENT OF CHARLIE AKINS, SUPERINTENDENT, HARDIN COUNTY
PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ELIZABETHTOWN, KENTUCKY
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am Charlie Akins, Superintendent
of the Hardin County Schools, Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I am honored to appear
before a Committee that has had unparalleled effect in bringing about needed reform
and improvement in public education. I thank you for being allowed the opportunity
to make this statement.
I have been associated with the Hardin County Schools in various capacities for
the past 25 years, serving in the position of Superintendent for the last seven years. Throughout this period of service, I have also been closely associated with the
nature of the federal impact situation in our area as a result of the military
installation at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
In my opinion, this situation, except for some
changes in the numbers of students involved, basically remains the same as it did
Each succeeding Congress since the 81st has analyzed impact aid and has deter
mined that the circumstances prompting the establishment of this aid deserved and
justified continued federal assistance.
The wisdom and concern of the Congress over
these years has helped the Hardin County Schools to survive and maintain a reasonable
school program for the thousands of mobile, federally connected students who have
moved through our school system over these many years.
For the sake of brevity, I do not wish to explore all the problems that are
imposed on local school districts as a result of their close proximity to a large
military installation. I do, however, wish to emphasize four areas that constitute continuing difficultues for such school systems. It is imperative to the very existence of school programs such as ours that these problems be addressed by some level of
government other than the local school district. Since the pressures are placed on
the local schools by federal activity, I believe it is logical for us to conclude that
the federal government must concern itself with a solution to these difficulties
for so long as the following conditions continue to exist.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there is a most definite lack of realistic
state equalization of financial resources per pupil. According to the latest
figures available, the disparity ranges from the state high per pupil expenditure
of $1,259 to a low of $430. Hardin County, with a per pupil expenditure of $762,
is some $70 below the state average per pupil expenditure of $832. I admit that
if Kentucky had true state equalization of educational funds, there would be no
need for the existence of federal impact aid to the local educational agency.
Although there is a move underway to initiate equalization in Kentucky, it will be
many years before this is completely achieved.
In addition, local school districts in Kentucky depend heavily on local property
taxes for a substantial portion of their total revenue per pupil. The average in
the state of Kentucky shows that local revenue makes up 33.7 per cent of total
receipts with state revenue supplying 51.6 per cent and federal revenue 14.7 per
Because of major diversities in the amount of assessment per child, this
dependence on local property taxes perpetuates an uneven distribution of revenue per
pupil across the state.
The tendency of P. L. 874 3(B) catagory student population
to dilute the local property tax assessment per pupil furthers and adds to this
The situation in the Fort Knox area, because of the concentration of 3(B)
students, is a good example of the local dilution of tax base. With the exception
of the per cent of school population being federally connected, the school districts
The following table shows the assessments
in our area share very common assets.
per pupil in the school districts surrounding Fort Knox and Hardin County.
Because of the presence of industry and commercial development in the area of:
Elizabethtown in Hardin County that does not exist in such counties as Green and
Breckinridge, I contend that our assessment per pupil, if it were not for impact,
should exceed the assessments for both Green and Breckinridge counties.
It is also
significant that Meade County and Hardin County are the only districts with high
percentages of federal impact pupils.
Because of the mobile nature of many of the federally connected families, I feel that their presence reduces the local property tax assessment per pupil in the
A. THE NATURE AND ASSESSMENT OF THE RESIDENTIAL HOUSING
OCCUPIED BY SUBSTANTIAL NUMBERS OF THESE PEOPLE
Hardin County has the greatest number of mobile homes per capita of any county
in Kentucky. We have 3,520 trailers located in 183 trailer parks.
Some 85 per cent
of these parks are located within a fifteen minute drive of the Fort Knox post. Over
1,000 additional mobile homes are located on lots and small farms, the majority of
which are situated in the north end of the county adjacent to the military post. The tax assessor's office reports that slightly over 50 per cent of these mobile homes
appear on the tax rolls.
One of his major problems is the ownership of these mobile
homes by military personnel. The Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act and Kentucky's classification of mobile homes as personal property allows military personnel to be exempt from the local property tax levy. In the event a mobile home is on the tax
rolls, it would generate an average school tax payment of $18.88.
Federally connected families, because of the limited term of their expected stay
in the district, tend to be renters rather than owners of residential property.
value of available rental property is substantially less than the average value of
residential property occupied by the owner. These major factors concerning the housing
of impact families continue to keep our revenue per pupil one of the very lowest in
the nation at $762 for FY 76.
B. TOTAL LACK OF ASSESSMENT ON PROPERTY CONNECTED
WITH THE POINT OF EMPLOYMENT
Several thousand residents of Hardin County work on post in government facilities
worth millions of dollars but, because of government ownership, no local school tax
is paid on the wealth at this point of employment. In a normal situation, close to
50 per cent of the school district's property tax revenue is derived from taxes on
property connected with points of employment. On these people, our only major source
of revenue is from taxation connected with their residence.
In the area adjacent to Fort Knox, where approximately 80 per cent of our impact
population reside, we find commercial and service property development being dictated
by commercial and service activities conducted on post. Businesses that one would
expect to find in a normal city of 14,000 to 18,000 do not exist.
In the Radcliff
Vine Grove area, medical facilities are practically absent, hardly any entertainment
and recreational establishments exist, and an extremely small number of retail businesses
are operating for a community this size. Also, industry is noticably absent in the
Commercial development in the community cannot pay local taxes and compete with
these same types of businesses that operate tax free on the military post. Further
serving to discourage commercial and service development is the fact that many impact
families have remained in this area upon retirement to use their post privileges. This directly affects the commercial assessments and the total tax base for the
Couples who come to the Fort Knox area because of the federal activity do so for
employment opportunities during their working years.
Most of these couples are of an
age to have school age children.
This has a tendency to increase the average number
of children per family in the district above the average, thus making a further
contribution to the dilution of the tax base per student.
Hardin County has been faced with providing school programs and facilities for
an everchanging student population. Changes made by the Department of Defense for military or other reasons have brought about sudden changes in the numbers and makeup
of the 3(B) impact student population. As an example of this, the elimination of the
draft and its effects on the administration of on-post family housing in 1973 and
1974 resulted in a net loss in the northern half of Hardin County of 162 students in
grades 1-7 during this period and an increase of 281 students in grades 8--12. Prior
to this period, our impact population was heavily in grades 1-4.
Another prime example would be the reactivation of the 194th Armored Brigade.
In February of 1976, this brigade was operating at 30 per cent strength.
1976, it had been increased to 111 per cent of normal brigade strength. This action
was largely responsible for creating an increase of 206 students in the immediate area
of the post.
In addition to this, we suffer shifts of total numbers from year to year and some