Kingsport school budget $3.2 million in the red

Rick Wagner • Apr 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM

(Editor's note-Be sure and pick up a copy of tomorrow's paper for a follow up story on this subject.)

KINGSPORT — The city school system’s potential 2013-14 budget proposal has $3.2 million more in expenditures than revenues.

To be exact, total estimated revenues for the coming fiscal year starting July 1 are $65,271,650 or $1,509,096 more than the current 2013-14 budget.

But the total proposed expenditures are $68,535.155, making for a $3,263,505 shortfall — and a budget that if funded in full also would be $4,772,601 more than the current year’s budget.

“This isn’t a budget proposal at this point. It is simply a point in time,” Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said of the document presented to the Board of Education by Finance Director David Frye at a work session Thursday night. “What’s included in this may change.”

BOE member Carrie Upshaw said the majority of budget additions, recommended by the Budget Committee, are needed to keep the school system moving forward, meeting mandates, getting ready for the Common Core for math and English in 2014-15 and handling additional enrollment.

“This is already trimmed tremendously from what was presented at the budget session,” Upshaw said, estimating that all the requests considered would have cost nearly 10 times as much as the current shortfall.

“We’re talking $30 million over budget,” Upshaw said. “This has already been trimmed tenfold to this point.”

She said some of the items are “inevitable,” including funding for the joint STEM school, Innovation Academy, and additional teachers driven by increased enrollment.

The document lists last year’s city appropriation of $9,001,400 for the general purpose budget. Combined with debt service, which varies year to year and is projected to increase by $29,500 over this year’s $4,537,050, the city’s contribution would total $13,567,950.

By state law, the city can’t reduce its $9,001,400 contribution unless the system loses enrollment.

The BOE is to vote on the budget May 2 so it can be presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in a May 6 work session.

New personnel expenditures and positions renewed after being eliminated in past years added up to $1.943 million in proposed new spending, while new initiatives were listed at $722,550.

In addition, employee pay raises would be $1,432,500, non-personnel costs for increased academics would be $197,550, and continuation expenses would be $817,000 for things like $233,000 in additional health insurance costs, although Frye said the 7.5 percent increase calculated is just an estimate.

BOE member Andy King asked if Ailshie and the staff could come up with some potential items they feel are cuttable and non-cuttable.

“I don’t see anything on this I would want to propose we eliminate right off the bat,” King said.

Ailshie during the meeting said he has already had some conversations with staff along those lines but said he couldn’t say how the plan presented to the BOE on May 2 might differ from Thursday and whether the Budget Committee would meet again. He also serves on the committee.

The board also got an update on Common Core from Assistant Superintendent Dory Creech and a financial update that showed local option sales tax collections across Sullivan County are down slightly.

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