Kingsport BOE approves $65.7M school budget

Rick Wagner • Jun 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT — City school officials Thursday night approved a balanced 2013-14 operational budget of $65.7 million, assuming the city gets a little more property tax revenue growth.

They made up a roughly $2 million budget shortfall from the proposed budget from May with $450,000 in additional money from the city — including $200,000 that is less certain than the $250,000 — along with a little additional revenue here and there and the rest by cutting proposed spending by about $1.38 million.

“None of us like to see the reductions” in the originally proposed budget, BOE member Susan Lodal said. “I think the word is pretty much compromise.”

One of those cuts was to implement a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise in January instead of July, saving $310,000 but in effect giving teachers the equivalent of a yearlong .75 percent raise.

However, school officials said the 1.5 percent increase would be built in to the base pay for 2014-15 unlike in some systems that are choosing to give a one-time 1.5 percent bonus instead of a raise or that are giving no bonus or raise. Step increases for teachers and support staff remain in place.

The total operating budget of $65,719,650 is $1,995,096 million more than the 2012-13 budget, a 3.13 percent increase.

The largest single reduction was a cut of $375,000 that was to have been used for six technology instructors, formerly called academic coaches when they last existed in the 2011-12 budget.

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen put $250,000 in additional city funding in the first reading BMA budget approved Tuesday night, with comments of board members indicating another $200,000 would be available if property tax revenues came in a little higher as expected after growth shown by property reappraisal.

There’s a “better than 50 percent chance” of the property tax generating an extra $200,000, school finance director David Frye said.

For online: For a look at the budget presentation document from Frye, go to http://kingsport.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/940474/File/BOE%20Meeting%20Notes/2013%20Supporting%20Documents/6-6%20BOE%20Budget%20Presentation%206-06-13.pdf.

For print: For a look at the budget presentation document from Frye, go to http://www.k12k.com/ and click through a series of links until you get to Frye’s budget presentation.

The board asked the BMA to make up for a $1.8 million budget shortfall in May but later found out the budget they had approved was roughly $2 million short.

If the city adds $450,000 for school funding, that will bring the city’s appropriation to the system to $10,251,400 — a maintenance of effort amount the BMA can’t reduce in the future unless the system has a reduction in students from its current 6,500 or so.

The vote on the budget was 4-0 with President Randy Montgomery absent. Vice President Carrie Upshaw, Lodal, Andy King and Betsy Cooper voted for the budget.

In the Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee budget for a school jointly operated and funded with Sullivan County’s school system, the city system took away the related arts teacher it was going to provide, a savings of $62,610, and left a school nurse part-time instead of making the position full-time, a savings of $14,150.

Two new eighth-grade teaching positions remain, and maintenance remained at $25,000.

Ailshie after the meeting said in talking about the budget individually with BOE members, it was a consensus that although IA is a great program drawing accolades for being a STEM or science, technology, engineering and math school, it should not be immune to budget constraints affecting the whole system.

Sullivan County’s school budget is about $4.5 million short or $2.5 million if fund balance is used to offset that.

In safety, the approved city budget cuts $40,000 for a school resource officer at Cora Cox Academy, an alternative school, but the board later in the meeting approved applying for a COPS grant that would add three SROs — one with a 25 percent match from the school system and two with a 25 percent match from the city.

The three-year grant requires full funding of the three SROs the fourth year.

The city budget also assumes an additional $139,000 in sales tax revenues beyond the old projects, which Frye and Ailshie said was done upon the recommendation of City Manager John Campbell, who cited a new car dealership and other businesses in the city not in operation the whole fiscal year.

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