Facts And Fiction

The on going budget debate with the Loudon County Board Of Education is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going and going. Unfortunately the BOE and subservients have the luxury of being able to espouse fictitious rhetoric while the commission has the responsibility and duty to deal with the facts. The BOE and company continuously make statements pertaining to the lack of funding without providing information to substantiate their claims. Reminds me the Andy Griffith Show, episode 200, Aunt Bee Runs For Office. If you have seen it you know what I mean.

When my father went to school, in a one room school house, the boys first task of the school day was to fire up the pot belly stove and walk to the foot of the hill to get spring water for the class. The outhouse was just behind the school building. Children were educated. When I went to school we had indoor plumbing but no air conditioning, there were thirty to thirty-five kids in a class with one teacher. Children were educated. The alledged lack of money is not the problem with education in Loudon County.

Below are two letters written to the Knoxville News Sentinel pertaining to the BOE budget. You read and decide for your self which side makes since.

Knoxnews.com June 2, 2007

Loudon school needs deserve attention The Loudon County school board submitted its budget to the county commission recently with proposed capital requests in excess of $100 million. While this amount may seem large, it represents the accurate needs of the schools in our county that have been terribly under-funded for many years now. Tennessee ranks 49th in education, with Loudon County falling within the bottom one-third. We spend an average of $6,677 per child vers

Wayne Gardin, a county commissioner, was quoted: "It would take a $50 wheel tax to raise $100 million or more. If we did that, people would start moving out of this county." I seriously doubt that our residents would move over $50 per year, but given the fact that Loudon County enjoys one of the lowest taxes in the state, would an extra $50 a year be too much to ask?

Now, ask yourself, what would that $50 a year buy? Well, for starters, it would get us three brand new, state-of-the-art, leading-in-energy-and- environmental-design certified schools and critically necessary renovations and improvements at the other schools.

It would allow for a budget that provides funding to attract and retain some of the best educators this state has to offer. Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes, was recently quoted as saying, "Improving schools is essential to moving the regional economy forward."

Great schools can help to attract professionals in technology and science, something school districts all across the U.S. need. New schools promoting green technology have also been shown to improve test scores and improve the health benefits for those who attend.

Please show your support for the Loudon County school board budget and write to your county commissioner and tell him you support a budget that allows for the critically necessary improvements to our school to begin.

Loudon Elementary School
PTO president

Loudon schools facing battle of budget knoxnews.com By BOB FRANKE,
June 2, 2007

This is in response to a May 25 story in the News Sentinel, "Drastic Loudon Co. school cuts proposed."

This story was a disservice to your readers and taxpayers in Loudon County because it told only half the story and should have been titled, "Drastic Loudon County school budget increases requested."

Here are a few facts and figures, and the citizens can draw their own conclusions.

Last year's budget provided $7.2 million in property tax revenues to the school system.

This year, the Loudon County school board initially asked for $12.1 million of property tax revenues to be allocated to the schools in its 2007-08 budget request. This included a request for 54 new positions.

The school board then revised this to $10 million of property tax revenues to be allocated to the schools. This is an increase of $2.8 million over last year, or 39 percent - all in one year.

To fund a $2.8 million increase, the property tax rate would have to be increased by 33 cents - from $1.84 to $2.17.

A 39 percent increase in school funding from the property tax in one year is excessive.

Over the past six years, the schools have received considerable increases in funding.

We just increased the property tax rate by 32 cents two years ago, and a significant part of this increase went to the schools.

We are looking at another significant property tax increase in the next few years to fund the $107 million-plus school building program.

Just to service the debt on the building program will require about a $1 increase in property tax rates, and this does not take into consideration the additional operating costs that will be associated with these new facilities.

Over the last six years, the school's total operating budget - from local, state and federal sources - has increased by 60 percent. That is 10 percent per year, far more than inflation and population growth during this period. Thus, we have not really been shortchanging the schools.

This year's proposed appropriation - from local, state and federal sources - for the schools is $34,199,228. This compares with last year's appropriation of $32,481,344, or an increase of 5.3 percent.

We would like to be able to do more, but the money just isn't there without a significant tax increase. We want our children in Loudon County to attend adequate school facilities, and it is going to take considerable tax monies just to bring our school buildings up to standard in the next few years.

Bob Franke is a Loudon County Commissioner, 3rd District. His e-mail is rdfranke@msn.com.