|There is a state law called "maintenance of effort" (MOE). The
effect of the maintenance of effort law is that the county commission
can never reduce the amount of funding it provides to the schools from
one year to the next. However, there is one exception. If a school
system's enrollment goes down, the amount of funding required under the
maintenance of effort law can also be reduced accordingly.
From the it's highest point of enrollment back in 2010, the Loudon County school's system enrollment has decreased by approximately 7% or 350 students. As I've reported before, the decrease in enrollment is a direct result of the elimination of out of county students.
If commission wants to, we can legally reduce local funding by the same 7% amount which would be approximately $935,335.00 or six property tax pennies. These pennies could be moved to other county budgets or even be given back to the tax payers in the form of a property tax reduction.
You probably already read that the school board is asking for an additional 2.1 million dollars in next years budget which seems nearly delusional given all the facts as we now know them.
If the enrollment is down by 350 students, wouldn't it make since that the school's system's expenditures would also be down to match? Not hardly. We learned last week that expenditures are actually on the rise, up 2.4 million dollars in just the last two budget cycles and now with enrollment at it's lowest in ten years, wanting 2.1 million more. How can that conceivably be justified?
It's rare that an entire school district's enrollment has such dramatic decline and that a county commission has the opportunity to reduce funding to match the decline, but this is the case.
While commission has the legal authority and the fiscal responsibility to spend the tax payer's money responsibly it's to be seen if they have the political will to make the cut.