Where's The Money?
Basic Education Program
|It's the same thing year after year. Schools need more money. Why is
that? What's so unique to education that they never seem to have enough
money to operate? Have you ever read a story where a school system came
out and said, we don't need any more money? Me neither.
The fact is, most school systems don't suffer from a lack of money but more often than not they suffer from spending too much money. Every statistic shows that education spending has never been higher yet test scores don't reflect any substantial improvements.
The state of Tennessee through the BEP, Basic Education Program, determines the level of state funding for our system based on our student population by grade level and other factors. Through various formulas, the state pays varying percentages of school employee pay from 50%-70%. This includes everything from the superintendent to the custodians. Any employees the system hires above the number allotted for by the BEP must be paid for with 100% local money. This is why our system is seemingly always in need of more money.
According to the 2014-2015 BEP funding report, our system will be compensated for 397 positions this school year. The problem is the system has more than 573 positions. This does not include board members or daycare workers.
The largest discrepancies between the BEP funding of required positions and the actual positions on the board payroll are teachers and paraprofessionals (teacher assistants).
The BEP funding, based on student population by grade level and other factors, allocates funding for 267 teachers. Our system has 347. BEP also provides funding for 44 paraprofessionals (teacher assistants). Our system has 120. There are other like issues but these are the biggest ones. As stated previously, every position above the BEP allotment is paid for 100% with local taxes. These two overages alone cost county tax payers millions of dollars dollars annually. In fairness, every system has some positions over the BEP but I'm not sure other systems are this far above the BEP funding.
Much has been said about low teacher pay in Loudon County. Average teacher pay in Loudon County is $46,115.00. Of the 136 school systems across the state, average teacher pay, $42,925.00, in Loudon County comes in at number 50. If you make the same comparison with the ten systems of like enrollment, Loudon County is near the top.
On percent of local funding verses state funding, Loudon County comes in at 30 out of the 136 systems with local funding providing 39.7% of all funding. Commission has fairly funded the Loudon County system.
The commission budget committee spent seven weeks going through the county budget department by department, line by line and was able to cut more than $800,000.00 from the current budget. The BOE had one or two budget meetings and came up with the idea of needing 2.1 million more dollars.
Apparently, some members of the school board live in a fantasy world where there are no limits on what the tax payers can afford. Well, I'm sorry but there are limits. There is no shortage of funding for the schools. The school board is no different than any other government department. They need to decide their priorities, and work within their budget to meet those priorities. They can't have everything.