No Cuts Here

Knox County Schools to cut nearly 70 positions, Blount Schools To Cut 67 Positions, Sweetwater School Board passes budget, elimination of five teaching positions, Maryville schools cuts 17 employees, Nearly 200 Anderson County teachers get non-renewal letters, All non-tenured K-5 teachers have gotten the pink slip in Jefferson County, Oak Ridge Schools to cut 57 positions and finally Tennessee to send 853 state layoff notices this week. Things are tough all over except in Loudon County, apparently.

Instead of looking for ways to cut back or make reductions, a majority of the Loudon County school board is looking to add to their spending. The board submitted a budget request to the county commission for an additional 1.25 million dollars in operating costs. The bulk of the requested new spending is for step raises for all certified and noncertified employees and a 2% raise for all employees across the board totaling $817,831,00. Nothing surprising here, the board always asks for more money. The shocker is that the county commission budget committee is going to recommend to the full commission to give the school board nearly their entire request.

The budget committee will be meeting in a work shop with the full commission next Monday to present their budget proposal with a vote on the budget set for June 7th. The proposal includes giving the board a little more than $1,000,000.00 for new operating costs. The big issue for the school board is that the $1,000,000.00 for new operating costs will be coming directly from the building fund which of course will drastically alter the proposed building plan. According to the budget committee, after the building fund is raided for operating costs, the commission will only be able to borrow $14,000,000.00 for the building program. This is far less than the $37,000,000.00 needed for phase one of the building program.

If a majority of the county commission approves the proposed budget a new school for Greenback would be eliminated, at least till commission raises taxes. Statements made at the budget meetings were that with the $14,000,000.00 the school board could proceed with part of the building program, the new middle school in Loudon and the expansion of the Philadelphia cafeteria, then next year the commission would raise taxes to build Greenback.

We all know that there have been a number of officials who have openly and behind the scenes opposed a new school for Greenback from the word go. Mostly for personal political agendas. This will be their last stand to kill the project. If the school board were to break phase one of the building program and go ahead and do the two smaller projects, does anyone really believe that a majority of the commission will vote next year to raise property taxes just for the Greenback school?

The current adopted proposed phase one building plan includes a new school in Greenback, a new middle school in Loudon and the expansion of the Philadelphia cafeteria. I wouldn't start to predict how other school board members feel, but for me, I will never vote to break up the building program. When and only when county commission votes to fund the entire phase one building program will I agree to proceed.