Kingsport schools may seek additional money from BMA

Rick Wagner • Apr 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport school officials are leaning toward asking city leaders for more funding for the 2009-10 school year, although how much is still unknown.

They also are considering the idea of cutting four high school teaching positions and six elementary positions, although if the Sullivan County school system ends its policy of allowing annexed students to remain in the county system, hundreds of students — along with per-student state funding — could shift from the county to the city system.

What is known, however, is that the general school budget’s projected revenues are about $1.4 million short of the draft budget’s recommendations, the difference between $59.5 million in projected expenditures and $58.1 in projected revenues.

The current city general fund appropriation to the school system is $8.7 million.

“We are considering asking the city to increase that $8.7 million,” School Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller said Friday.

The Kingsport Board of of Education held a budget work session Thursday night to discuss the budget. But BOE President Susan Lodal said Friday the amount of additional money to be sought from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is far from finalized.

The Kingsport BOE will hold a work session and public comment input session starting at 7 p.m. Monday in the Alumni Field House on the Dobyns-Bennett High School campus.

“It’s just a work session with a public comment component,” Kitzmiller said of public comment to be held at the beginning and end of the meeting. “Typically, the public input is at formal meetings.”

The BOE will meet again at 7 p.m. Thursday in a work session and a regular meeting to vote on a proposed budget to be presented to the BMA on Monday, April 20.

Kitzmiller said the Central Office staff already has met with teachers and others in the school system seeking ideas about cost savings and revenue generation.

“We’re struggling with two components of our budget,” said Kitzmiller.

One, the general budget with the $1.4 million shortfall, includes increases in the cost of utilities and other operational costs such as health insurance and risk management insurance, as well the increased cost of operating the new John Adams Elementary School and salary step increases for teachers going from their fifth to sixth years and 10th to 11th years of service.

And Kitzmiller said the next two budget years will differ from past ones because of the federal economic stimulus funding available to the school system, which will run about $2.5 million over those two years.

Of that, just more than $1 million is for Title 1 programs serving children who get free or reduced-price lunch, while another $1.5 million is for special education programs.

The caveats, however, are that the money cannot be used to supplant existing expenditures, and after two years it will disappear.

Another budget area is capital improvements, which are $300,000 a year. Kitzmiller said roofing, remodeling and carpet replacement are common capital appropriations, although the largest recent project is the just-awarded bid for the D-B parking lot repaving and reconfiguration project.

The system has a rolling five-year capital plan.

As for the county plan, the Sullivan County BOE Thursday decided to wait until May to consider changing two county policies.

One allows students in the 1979 Lynn View High School zone to attend county schools even after being annexed by the city, while the other allows any student annexed after April 2006 to continue attending a county school.

The proposal could forcibly shift about 291 Sullivan South zone students in Rock Springs into the Kingsport system and more than 200 Lynn Garden area students in the North zone into Kingsport.

However, students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades would not be forced out of the county system, under the proposal.

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