They Did It,
Phase 1 Building Program Dead

Ignoring all the facts, knowing it would kill phase one of the building program, knowing they had already spent nearly 2 million dollars on the building program, knowing just how many millions upon millions of dollars the school board has thrown away, knowing how over staffed the school system is, a majority of commissioners still voted Monday night to give the school system more than a million dollars in new operating money for the next fiscal year.

Commissioners Nancy Marcus, David Meers, Roy Bledsoe, Harold Duff, Chris Park and Wayne Gardin voted to take the money from the building fund to give to the school operating budget effectively killing phase one of the building program. Commissioners Earlena Maples, Austin Shaver, Bob Franke and Don Miller voted no.

Some commissioners who voted to kill the building program voiced support for a hefty property tax increase next year for the building program but next year is a long way off and some of those commissioners will not be there next year. Those folks in Loudon who had were hoping for a new middle school can mark that off. Both Loudon commissioners, Nancy Marcus and David Meers, voted to kill the new middle school. Those hoping for the expansion of the Philadelphia cafeteria can mark that off. Forth district commissioner, Roy Bledsoe, voted to kill the building program. And all those so desperately hoping for a new school in Greenback can certainly kiss that dream goodbye.

Elections do have consequences. Six commissioners will determine the direction Loudon County goes. That includes the future of the school system and the amount of property taxes you pay. Monday night six of those commissioners guaranteed, with their vote, that Loudon County tax payers will be paying much higher taxes in the very near future because they refused to stop the waste in the school system. Not only did they refuse to stop the waste, they have now handed the school system another million dollars to fritter away.  

Here's a crazy thought. In the August election five commission seats will be on the ballot. If only a couple of those elections replaced spenders with savers, the new commission could amend the budget holding the schools spending in check. Just a thought.

Loudon school department to get extra $1M

Commission votes for funding to help close budget shortfall

By Hugh Willett
LOUDON - The Loudon County Commission voted 6-4 Monday night to give the school department an extra $1 million to help close an operating budget shortfall for the 2010-11 budget year.

The extra funding followed a recommendation of the budget committee but fell about $250,000 short of the school board's request. Schools Director Wayne Honeycutt said he thought the additional funding would be adequate.

"I think we can survive," Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt said the school board will take up the budget on Thursday to discuss how to allocate the available funds. There should be enough money to give teachers a 1 percent raise, he said.

Although the building fund and the operating budget are separate, funding the operating shortfall required moving money from the school building fund. The current budget should still leave about $14 million available for starting the program.

Commissioner Don Miller argued against the funding option and presented a plan that he said would have given the schools an additional $600,000 and left enough money in the building program to borrow about $16 million. He also said he was concerned about the total operating budget.

"I feel we've shortchanged the building program," Miller said.

Commissioner Austin Shaver argued against additional funding for the operating expenses based on both the economy and the need to keep the building program funded.

Professional educators on the commission, including Nancy Marcus and Harold Duff, stressed the importance of funding the operating budget and suggested that the building program be dealt with separately.

In the final vote, Commissioners Shaver, Miller, Bob Franke and Earlena Maples voted against the budget committee recommendation.