- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

FLEMINGSBURG, Ky. (AP) - A non-profit organization started by Fleming County residents to raise money to pay for an agriculture teacher position in the local school district has turned into a broader effort to promote agriculture education across Kentucky.

In just a few months, the group called A Better Community Foundation raised $48,000 for Fleming County Schools to fully fund an Agriculture Education teacher for the 2014-15 school year in the northern Kentucky district, the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1yljD8o) reported.

That teacher, Tracy Moran, teaches in the new agriculture education program at Simons Middle School and Fleming County High School.

“Almost everything economically in our county is impacted in major part by agriculture,” said Adam Hinton, the non-profit group’s president and a fourth-generation owner of a farm supply business.

Hinton said the organization’s members have turned the initial effort into a volunteer-based grassroots fundraising and advocacy organization for agriculture education in Kentucky.

The idea to widen the group’s reach statewide, Hinton said, came at a state FFA convention when he realized that other school districts had lost agricultural education teaching positions.

A Better Community Foundation has a volunteer board of directors and a team of legal and financial advisers. It operates under the umbrella of Bluegrass Community Foundation in Lexington.

Meanwhile, Hinton said he hoped the Fleming County school district could pay for the ag teaching position in 2015-16, but said the non-profit group might be able to supplement funding at that time.

“I’ve never seen a community come together for agricultural heritage more than Fleming County,” said Moran, the new ag teacher.

Moran’s courses cover agricultural enrichment, animal science and crop plants.

Since fall 2013, the Fleming County district has been designated as being state-assisted. That means the state education department is helping district officials, including the local school board, implement a plan to correct deficiencies found in a department management audit.

Last November, Hiren Desai, associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, told the Lexington newspaper that a school district has to have 2 percent of its operating budget in reserve. Fleming County should have had about $315,000 in its checking account as of June 30, 2013, but an unaudited fund-balance report showed the district had $134,000.

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

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