|Only in government could a group of elected officials
come together to cut a budget and in the process double it. But that's
just exactly what happened at Monday's Loudon County Board Of Education
As incredible as it sounds, the board met with the
goal of cutting another $400,000.00 from their bloated 2008-2009 budget
request. But by the time the dust settled, they had added another
$400,000.00 to their request. As the board supposedly went through the
budget line by line, board members began to add previously cut items
back to the budget till they had added the extra 400g to the budget.
The BOE had originally requested 4.6 mil. new dollars
for this years budget. County Commission rejected the ridiculous request
and in turn offered the board about 1.2 mil. Outgoing director of
schools, Edward Headlee, had told the commission last week that the
board was within $400,000.00 of the commission's offer and expected
after Monday's workshop may get even closer. Well, that didn't work out.
The BOE is expected to submit their new request of
$2,000,000.00 to the commission for approval. Thus far, commissioners,
rightfully so. have been unwilling to bend over for the board. Board
members have tried every trick in the book to bring pressure on the
commission but have so far been unsuccessful in their arm twisting
The next county commission workshop is scheduled for
June 16th, 6:00 pm, when budget matters will be discussed. Who will
Loudon school board indecisive on budget cuts
Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com
The Loudon County School Board may be forced to choose between teachers
or textbooks to balance a projected $700,000 shortfall in the 2008-2009
As of last week, the board had reportedly eliminated more than $2
million in line-item expenses, including as many as a dozen positions,
technology funds, even the school board's salary, coming within $400,000
of balancing the budget. The Loudon County Commission has authorized a
$36.4 million budget for the school board.
After a series of budget workshops to reduce the deficit even more,
however, the board found itself moving in the other direction, removing
controversial cuts in an attempt to protect teaching positions and
Assuming the more than $2 million in line items listed for removal are
approved by the board at its regular meeting tonight, the board plans to
present a budget to the county commission on Monday that is about
$700,000 short of being balanced.
One of the biggest turnarounds in the budget debate has been the issue
of raises for all licensed and nonlicensed teaching staff. After first
agreeing to eliminate about $450,000 for a 2 percent pay increase, the
board reversed itself, deciding to ask the county commission to approve
a 1 percent raise.
"I won't vote for a budget with no pay raise for teachers," said board
member Bill Marcus. "I don't think it's fair that other county employees
get a pay raise. Teachers are county employees, too."
Another major issue under discussion is the choice of whether to cut a
$380,000 line item budgeted for social studies textbooks or to eliminate
the line item and buy the books later using emergency funds. The board
has also discussed asking parents to buy the $65 books and donate them
to the school.
Other line-item cuts, including $160,000 for nine half-time positions
described as family liaisons, came under scrutiny at the workshop
earlier this week.
Board members questioned whether it was better to cut textbooks or staff
"We need the textbooks," said board member June Klinestiver.
Board member Scott Newman said he thought he was hearing two different
stories from board members and some principals in the audience. "First I
heard you say you needed the textbooks more, then it seemed like you
were saying the teachers were more important."
Newman pointed out that the board was meeting to cut items from the
budget but seemed to be making arguments against all the proposed cuts.
Retiring schools superintendant Edward Headlee said he had been given
the impression that some on the board and the county commission wanted
to see cuts made at the central office. "They want the central office to
bleed," Headlee said.
Such symbolic sacrifices will be necessary to make sure the county
commission believes the school department has made an honest effort to
cut spending, Headlee said.
Assistant Superintendant of Schools Gil Luttrell said he was concerned
that the extent of the budget cuts would leave a shell of a school
department for incoming superintendant Wayne Honeycutt.
"We have to keep the infrastructure solid or things are going to fall
apart," he said.