Kentucky board approves tax increase to make schools safer

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky school board has approved a property tax increase to fund a $13.5 million initiative to help prevent school shootings.

The Fayette County Public Schools board voted 4-0 Wednesday to add a 5-cent property tax for every $100 of property values, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported .

The tax increase will pay for several safety upgrades that include placing law enforcement officers in every school, hiring more mental health professionals and installing metal detectors in every middle and high school.

The increase will cost about $88 per year for the average homeowner who has about $175,000 worth of property.

Superintendent Manny Caulk said "the world began to change" in January with a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School, followed by the Valentine's Day massacre at a Florida high school and copycat threats in Lexington.

"With changing times our values must remain constant," said Caulk, explaining why he convened a safety council that held hearings and made the recommendations in the $13.5 million plan.

Crawford Middle School Principal Mike Jones, a member of the District Safety Advisory Council that made the recommendations, said Wednesday that "we cannot continue to cut instruction to provide safety so we are going to have a steady source of revenue in order to provide the safety measures that the council recommended."

The increased amount would be on this fall's tax bill and the taxes would be collected in October and November. The safety improvements will be implemented soon after.

The new tax is a done deal unless opponents can come up with around 13,000 verified signatures in the next 45 days to put the tax increase to a county-wide vote, WTVQ-TV reported .

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com


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