Loudon school board OKs budget with raises
Proposal heads to commission $230,000 short
Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
LOUDON - The Loudon County School Board on Thursday voted 6 to 3 to adopt a 2009-2010 budget that includes a 2 percent raise for teachers.
The approximately $38 million budget will go to county commission about $231,752 short, an improvement over the $840,000 shortfall the board was dealing with a week ago.
Some board members were concerned that the deficit and increased operating costs compared to last year might still affect the proposed school building program.
The board was surprised to learn about a $365,000 increase in revenue from "growth funds" created by increased property tax revenue. In contrast with previous budget discussions, the board moved to vote on the budget with little debate.
"We've done our best," said board member Gary Ubben. "Now it's up to county commission."
The board opted to pay $430,000 for textbooks out of the fund balance, which usually is reserved for emergencies.
"We have to keep a reserve," Ubben said. "We can't take too much more from the fund."
Other reductions included a $25,000 cut in operating expenses, $35,000 in transportation costs, and various cuts in supplies and materials.
Board member Van Shaver said he voted against the budget because of the overall increase in operating costs. The newly adopted budget adds $793,000 to the overall operating budget, he said.
"The large increase in the operating budget would also have a major impact on the proposed building program by reducing the available funds for the debt service," Shaver said.
The 2 percent raise in teachers' salaries may still be a sore point with the county commission, according to Commissioner Wayne Gardin. The commission has not yet decided whether other county employees will get a raise this year.
"You can't give a raise to some county employees and not give it to others," Gardin said.
According to Schools Director Wayne Honeycutt, there are still several options related to teachers' salaries, including reducing the deficit $146,000 by giving a 1.4 percent raise to teachers or a $384,000 saving by giving only state-mandated raises.
Shaver said he was disappointed that the board could not send a balanced budget to the commission and said he expects the commission to reject the budget. "I almost hope that they just send us back a number and tell us that's all we get," he said.
Commissioner Don Miller, a member of the budget committee, acknowledged that the commission may not have much time for the usual back and forth with the board.
"We have to have this budget ready by September, or the schools could lose (state) funding," he said.
Loudon County School Board members send proposed budget on to county commission
Mary E. Hinds News Herald
After months of wrangling and debate, the Loudon County Board of Education quickly passed a budget proposal Thursday night, which asks for approximately $37,127,000 to operate the system, according to Director of Schools Wayne Honeycutt. The budget will now be sent on to the county commission for consideration and approval.
Honeycutt opened the discussion at the special called meeting telling the board the county budget committee had said there was the potential for a four percent growth in county revenue this year "to give us." He warned the board the figure, about $365,000, was "strictly an estimate" and not a promise. As of Aug. 6, school officials estimated the school system's potential budget deficit at $840,115.
Honeycutt told the board that budget negotiations reduced the proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year by more than $217,000 by eliminating or shifting personnel. "The problem is not in a reduction of expenses, but loss of revenue," he said.
Honeycutt then unveiled his latest budget recommendations. Under his proposed budget, the potential deficit would be reduced by $430,000 by purchasing all textbooks from the system's reserve funds. Honeycutt also proposed reducing the operation of the physical plant and other contracted services to $40,000, reducing the transportation and contracts with vehicle owners by $30,000, reducing the transportation line item by $5,000, reducing regular instruction programs and other supplies and materials by $4,500 and reducing regular instruction services and in-service/staff development by $5,000.
Honeycutt told the board the proposed budget called for a 1.4 percent raise for all school employees. He proposed tweaking the plan, cutting an additional $15,000 from the operation expenses of the physical plant. He said that additional cut along with the growth money the county budget committee could possibly provide would allow for school employees to get a 2 percent raise instead. "We should at least ask for it," Honeycutt told the board.
Board member Larry Proaps immediately moved to send the budget proposed by Honeycutt on to the county commission and "see what they do."
After little discussion the board voted to approve the proposed budget with board members Van Shaver, Lisa Russell and Bobby Johnson, Jr. voting against it. The budget will now be sent on to the county commission budget committee, which is scheduled to meet Thursday.