Kingsport school board wants more money from BMA

Rick Wagner • Apr 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — New personnel for a new elementary school adds more than $1 million in spending to next year’s proposed Kingsport City Schools budget, although the draft budget bottom line of $59.5 million compares to a current-year spending plan of $59.05 million.

Step pay increases for teachers, increased health insurance costs, and increased utilities costs make up lesser but still substantial chunks of the proposed increase in spending.

However, the budget includes no general pay increase for teachers or other employees, only the step increases for those going from years five to six and 10 to 11.

“This year is the first year I can remember the governor hasn’t put a salary increase for teachers in his budget,” Kingsport Board of Education President Susan Lodal said Wednesday.

Local systems must pay part of any state increase, based on a formula determining their ability to pay. And Lodal said the BOE in the past has tried to go beyond that to keep pay competitive, but that won’t occur this year.

The projected revenues for the 2009-10 budget are about $1.4 million short of the $59.5 million in projected 2009-10 expenditures, and Lodal said the BOE will ask the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to increase its annual $8.7 million appropriation to the school system.

However, the $1.4 million could grow to a shortfall approaching $1.8 million if the BOE opts to keep six Spanish instructors in the elementary schools. The budget also includes federal economic stimulus money — $1 million for Title 1 programs serving children who get free or reduced-price lunch, and another $1.5 million for special education programs.

The BOE will hold a called meeting and work session starting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Field House Alumni Hall at Dobyns-Bennett High School to vote on the proposed budget. The BOE will present the budget to the BMA during a work session at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

According to a PowerPoint presentation the BOE has reviewed, operating costs at John Adams Elementary to open in the fall will add $1.02 million, utilities will increase $390,000 plus a later projection adding $90,000 in addition for electricity, teacher step increases will cost an extra $300,000, with health insurance costs going up $256,000 and workers’ compensation going up $82,424. Those are partially offset by decreases in other areas.

Six new teaching positions for Adams are projected to be joined by six existing positions shifted from other schools as part of an elementary rezoning.

Those changes result in about $1 million of the $1.4 million shortfall. The rest of the shortfall would add a net of $418,400 to the budget.

The largest reductions are $228,800 by cutting four high school teacher positions, $343,200 by cutting six Spanish elementary teaching positions, and $160,000 in unspecified Central Office personnel cuts.

New expenditures include $300,000 for a non-traditional high school program — which could absorb the four regular high school teaching positions cut from D-B — $200,000 to replace the phone system, $350,000 for a new network phone switch, and $160,000 for two additional buses.

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