Despite Thorn Hill Education Center pulling out all stops for more funding, county officials say it’s unlikely Fiscal Court will give the $30,000 it’s requesting for next year’s budget.
However, some magistrates said Wednesday they’d like to see Thorn Hill get more than the $5,000 the county originally proposed.
During a work session two weeks ago for the 2012-2013 budget, Fiscal Court proposed setting aside $5,000 for Thorn Hill Education Center, a fraction of what it wanted.
Thorn Hill administrators then invited the court and other county officials to the center for a presentation Wednesday to show the court what it is all about.
“One of the biggest flag-raisings that happened for me was realizing that my Fiscal Court … didn’t realize what we did here,” Thorn Hill Assistant Director Barry Burkett told the officials Wednesday.
“… We still are important to this community.”
In addition to adult education, the center offers college prep courses, English as a Second Language and programs for young parents who dropped out of school.
About 100-125 students earn their GEDs from Thorn Hill each year. That’s a larger graduating class than Frankfort High School’s, where about 70 earned their high school diplomas last year, Burkett said.
However, most of those services are paid for through state and federal funds, which have to be allocated toward education and operating expenses, Burkett said.
The center is struggling to pay for extra services though, which is where the county comes in.
“The people we have here, living on $7,000-$10,000 a year, in generational poverty … those people need transportation, need childcare,” Executive Director Mike Rosenstein said.
“Our grants are great for paying teachers … but we don’t even have the resources to bus (our students) here in the bus we own.”
Burkett and Rosenstein said the few transportation and childcare services the center offers comes from county and city funds. In addition to the $5,000 Fiscal Court gave Thorn Hill for the current fiscal year, the City Commission gave $32,500.
But they said that money isn’t enough to cover fuel costs, hire a CDL-certified driver for the center’s bus or hire additional staff to provide childcare, which is why they’re asking the county to provide $30,000 for next year.
Later Wednesday, Judge-Executive Ted Collins passed out a sealed draft proposal for next year’s county budget to magistrates. In that proposal, Thorn Hill is set to receive $5,000, the same amount from the past few budgets.
While they said they doubt they’d be able to provide the full $30,000 requested, a couple of the county officials said Wednesday’s presentation made them consider giving more than originally proposed to Thorn Hill.
“I think for us to (give the $30,000) at once would be a huge leap for this crew,” Magistrate Jill Robinson said with a laugh.
“But I’d like to give them a little more (than $5,000), and then work with them to see if we can help raise some money … I think they made a good point.”
Magistrate Larry Perkins agreed, telling The State Journal he’d like to see the county put just as much money, if not more, into Thorn Hill as to Access Soup Kitchen or the Resource Office of Social Ministries, which the county proposed during a budget work session two weeks ago giving $8,000 and $23,000 respectively.
That’s because education is key to helping Franklin County’s most underprivileged people, Perkins said.
“A wise man once said, ‘You can feed a man, or you can teach a man to fish,’” Perkins said. “If we teach them, they’ll be able to take care of themselves. If we continue to feed them, they’ll come back for more.”
But Magistrate Don Sturgeon told The State Journal he’d like to keep Thorn Hill’s portion of the budget at $5,000.
“They do a good job, but there’s a lot of other people who do good jobs too, and we didn’t increase their budget,” Sturgeon said.
Officials said the budget will likely be discussed at next week’s Fiscal Court meeting.
Thorn Hill was the county’s first stop on its semi-annual road trip, where officials inspect ongoing projects or sites of concern. After the presentation, officials took a brief look at one of Thorn Hill’s newly renovated classrooms.
Until several months ago, the classroom housed a child’s swimming pool to catch rainwater coming through a gaping hole in the ceiling. That pool and hole are now gone, thanks to a $237,500 federal earmark that paid for a new roof.
That money also paid for new windows, gutters and insulation. The funds were presented to Thorn Hill in 2009 by U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler through a check from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
As part of their road trip Wednesday, county officials also toured Franklin County Regional Jail and the fire station on Louisville Road the county shares with the city.
Officials also visited The Reserve at Benson Creek subdivision, where the county road department is working to repave roads.
Magistrate Lambert Moore also had officials look at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Bridgeport-Benson Road to address complaints that some use the shoulder as a turning lane.