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Kingsport City Schools panel mulls budget requests

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Mar 8, 2007 at 9:06 AM

KINGSPORT - The list of requests is long, and each warrants consideration from Kingsport City Schools' Budget Committee.

The Budget Committee met Thursday and hammered out more details of the 2007-2008 budget.

In previous sessions throughout January and February, the committee heard requests from each school and system department. Committee members spent Thursday's meeting reviewing each request and weighing priorities versus potential available funds.

Common requests across the schools included additional personnel to meet increasing population demands, storage space at various schools, additional parking, systems to upgrade security, and an increase in salary for school nurses.

One concern, which has been brought up several times during the budget process, was the need to upgrade from current copper T1 lines to fiber optic for Internet connectivity.

Citing high bandwidth usage and the desire to upgrade several areas including library software, video service and telephone service, KCS Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller said the need to include this item in the budget is pressing.

"I think if we're going to take the next step in technology, we need to get fiber to the schools," Kitzmiller said.

As for increasing school nurses' salaries - a measure requested by most principals during earlier budget meetings - Kitzmiller reported that increasing 10 system nurses to beginning teacher's salary would represent an increase of $150,000.

The committee also covered two other personnel concerns at length - the need to recruit and retain qualified bus drivers and whether or not to use a staffing service to manage placement of substitute teachers.

Options discussed for retention of bus drivers included offering cross training within other disciplines and exploring pay rates. For substitute staffing, using a service would incur a higher cost but could potentially produce higher fill rates and alleviate stress of managing the system.

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