In addition to providing quality education preparing students for the workforce, the Owsley County School District is a major economic driver in the community. The school district directly contributes to the educational attainment and future earnings of its youth.
The district is the largest employer in the county with 190 employees and a payroll of $5,444,700. The employees contribute to the local tax base through payment of taxes and property values and spend dollars on goods and services in the community.
Raising educational levels with increased high school graduation, college and career success rates is critical to economic growth in a community. Owsley County is one of Kentucky’s leaders in graduation rates at 96 percent. It is difficult to ascertain the financial contributions of a graduating class with certainty, however, according to the 2010 census, the annual lifetime earnings of high school graduates average $10,386 higher than non-graduates. Over the course of 47 years of earning, this added income amounts to $488,142.
It is important to be mindful that while the economic impacts of the school district contribute to the local economy, it is not the same form of economic development in which goods and services are sold to outside markets bringing in dollars to the community and employing local citizens. Communities need to grow their economy and bring in outside dollars through the production of products, offering of services, and entrepreneurial operations.
Consequently, in this report allowances have been made to remove the economic impact that local sources of revenue are used to provide jobs and payroll. The breakdown for salaries from local, state and federal is as follows: $3,099,649 from state, $2,344,056 at the federal level. Additionally, the employee elements in payroll such as paid leave, a portion of health insurance, retirement and required benefits have been removed since they are not available for purchasing power.
Thus, $5,443,700 is a realistic amount of payroll pumped into the Owsley County economy annually from the outside sources of federal, state, and private funding. And, these figures do not account for the retired educators continuing to have an economic impact living in the community utilizing their retirement benefits.
Owsley County was able to obtain the coveted status as a KY Work Ready Community in Progress because of the success in the school district and the leadership it provided in the application process. The Kentucky Workforce Investment Board developed this program to show potential employers that counties have the skilled workforce available to locate there.
In order to qualify for the Work Ready Community status, counties must meet certain thresholds in criteria such as high school graduation rates, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, educational attainment rates, soft skills, available broadband Internet access, and counties must have a planning group in which K-12 is a critical component. The Owsley County School district made important contributions to reach the criteria, thus, providing the county a competitive advantage to land new job opportunities. The district has several programs and strategies to prepare students for careers which include dual credit college courses and vocational school training.
Owsley County School Superintendent Dr. Tim Bobrowski praised the report adding, “I am so proud of our students, teacher, school leaders, school board and our community for their great work to raise educational levels and improve the quality of life in our county and region.”
Owsley County teachers are the mentors for the New Economy workforce and next-generation entrepreneurs to strengthen the local economy. The school district is a critical component of economic and community development. An educated citizenry is able to help communities grow economically.
Research and writing by the Appalachian Innovations Collaborative (AIC) research team. For more information contact Ron Daley, the strategic partner lead for the KY Valley Educational Cooperative at firstname.lastname@example.org