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Council OKs $2 million for schools

Public education got a financial boost Monday night when the Harrison County Council unanimously approved $2 million in riverboat education funds for the three school systems, based on student populations.
Councilman Kenneth Saulman’s motion, seconded by Alvin Brown, gives Lanesville schools $196,693; North Harrison, $782,735 and South Harrison, $1 million.
According to the latest attendance records in April, Lanesville has 583 students; North Harrison, 2,320, and South Harrison, 3,024.
The funds are appropriated for educational purposes as proposed by each school board at it sees fit. None of the boards intend to use the funds to increase current teacher salaries, because there’s no guarantee the income will continue. The state legislature could reallocate the gaming revenue, or business at the Glory of Rome casinoboat could drop. In either case, that would mean less revenue for Harrison County.
Dr. Neyland Clark told council members in April that the South Harrison board intends to use its funds as it has previously: 80 percent to help pay for current building projects, which are underway at Heth-Washington and the South Central schools.
A study is also underway to determine if a second elementary school to relieve crowding is needed at Corydon. The remaining 20 percent will be used for other educational needs. Those funds will be kept in an escrow account for that purpose, Clark said.
“We appreciate beyond words not only your concern for our children, but also your openness in receiving our request for additional funds,” Clark said.
North Harrison Supt. Monty Schneider and Lanesville Supt. Mary Lou Nay echoed that sentiment. “Money in the past two years has certainly made a big difference,” said Nay, adding that the anticipated growth at Lanesville schools has not materialized. Enrollment, she said last month, “Actually, is down a little,” which allows the district to put money to use in school programs rather than saving all or most of it for future building projects.
The district’s needs include $60,000 in wiring and other computer-generated needs at the elementary school; $16,000 for band music and equipment; $10,000 for science lab equipment; $40,000 for an activity bus; $60,000 in boiler, heating and air-conditioner repairs, and $20,000 for a water heater.
At North Harrison, some $800,000 has been earmarked for several purposes, including: $300,000 for computer technology; $55,000 for a new roof at Morgan Elementary and $55,000 to rewire the building to meet the demands of computers; $30,000 for a proposed alternative school for non-violent students who’ve been expelled; $60,000 for a new bus compound, and $30,000 to replace a leaking, 10-year-old skylight at the high school.
North Harrison has a carryover in riverboat funds from last year of $228,169, but Schneider said that amount will soon be spent.
Schneider said the school district has not raised its tax rate in 10 years, in part because of the $1.5 million in riverboat revenue the corporation has received the past two years.
As of May 10, the riverboat education account had a balance of $5.1 million, which includes $1.25 million in savings. The account, which can be used for education purposes other than by public schools, receives 17 percent of riverboat dollars, 12 percent for spending, and five percent for savings.