MOE Survives

What started out as high drama at Friday's commission meeting ultimately settled in to just another fairly long, dull meeting. The center of action was the budget committee's recommendation to cut several hundred thousand dollars from the school board's operating budget.

There were motions, counter motions, amendments to motions and amendments to amendments. But by the time the dust settled, no funding was removed from the school board's budget.

A couple of weeks ago, the commission budget committee recommended the reduction in funding based on falling enrollment numbers in the county school system. According to the State Board of Education Department, Loudon County School system enrollment has fallen by about 10% or 500 students since 2009. The reduction would have been permitted under the Maintenance Of Effort (MOE) law that would allow reduced funding based on reduced enrollment.

Immediately after the recommendation for the reduced funding was made a couple weeks ago, the political long knives came out in force both from the Loudon and Lenoir City pro education corners. Commissioners who had shown likely support for the recommended funding reduction were bombarded with calls, emails and visits from those who opposed the cuts. Some even had political threats made to their positions.

Apparently the political blitz was successful because when the recommendation was first proposed, it appeared to have a big majority of support of the commission. But by the time the vote hit the floor Friday, essentially, all the commissioners voted to leave the funding in place, as is.

The other issue that had also received a good bit of  criticism was the proposal to reduce the school board's building fund by four pennies of the tax rate and give it back to property owners in the form of a four cent property tax reduction. This issue did pass and the tax payers will see a property tax reduction on their next tax bills.

Over all, I guess you could call it a compromise of sorts. The school folks got to keep their operating funds and the commission got to give the tax payers a little break.

I guess the world's in balance and the little children will survive another year.