The Much Bigger Story

Since Monday's commission meeting when commissioner's finally drew a line in the sand and said no more to the school board, most of the news has been about the budget decisions. And it was a big deal. But there was a much bigger event that took place at the meeting.

Over all a majority of commissioners voted to add nine more pennies the the Rural Debt Fund bringing to total penny distribution to the Rural Debt Fund to twenty-one cents. On it's face that doesn't sound like a big deal. Twenty-one pennies? So what?

The Rural Debt Fund is the funding section of the budget that will be used pay for the building program. Commissioners moved 7 pennies from the school board's general fund to the debt fund. They also moved one penny from the county general fund and one penny from the county debt fund to the Rural Debt Fund. Each of those 22 pennies is worth more than $147,000.00 per year.

In summery what this will do financially is allow the building program to move forward and actually with even more money than before. In fact the additional funding provided to the debt fund depending on the interest rate at the time we borrow the money could provide more than forty million dollars for the building program without any tax increases.

Poor past decisions and uncontrolled spending have brought the school board to it's financial knees and is responsible for the lack of funding for teacher raises and other needed improvements.

Commissioner's have been unfairly beat up in some circles over their budget decisions being accused of hurting education but what those six commissioners who voted for the budget actually did was to show their total commitment to education in Loudon County. Their action will now allow the school board to move forward with the building program. Those six commissioners should be applauded for making the hard decisions and not taking the easier politically popular route. 

Commissioner Austin Shaver may have said it best. "I want to make it clear I am not against salaries and textbooks. It is up to the school board to decide on how to spend the available funds. We can't line item the school budget. The commission can only decide on how much to fund and then tell the school board, this is how much you have to spend - spend it wisely."