KINGSPORT — Kingsport City Schools will be receiving additional funding from the city next fiscal year. However, the appropriation is one-eighth of what was originally requested, and school officials say additional steps will be taken to bring the school system’s budget into balance.
During a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session Monday night, City Manager John Campbell gave a brief rundown of the highlights of Kingsport’s fiscal year 2013 budget — a balanced budget with no property tax increase, small water and sewer rate increases, and a 2 percent raise for city employees.
The budget includes an additional $300,000 in operating funds for KCS, thus raising the city’s yearly maintenance of effort from $9.5 million to $9.8 million. By state law, this amount cannot be decreased.
Originally, school officials requested $2.4 million in additional funds to balance the budget, funding such items as the Early College program and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) platform school, new positions, and salary increases for all employees. The $2.4 million would have been a 25 percent increase in the city’s yearly maintenance of effort to KCS.
Though he never publicly stated it, Campbell initially proposed the $300,000 increase, something Mayor Dennis Phillips mentioned during one of the city’s budget workshops in May. On Monday, Campbell confirmed the amount to the BMA.
Director of Schools Lyle Ailshie said the school system would be making some hard decisions over the next couple of days. The Board of Education has a meeting scheduled for Thursday where the budget will likely be discussed.
One scenario to balance the school system’s budget calls for eliminating all of the academic coach positions, cutting $100,000 from the Early College program, decreasing raises from 2.5 percent to 2 percent, and eliminating eight teaching positions within the system and one librarian position at Dobyns-Bennett High School.
Ailshie said these steps add up to $1.8 million and coupled with a $123,000 increase in revenue estimates made by KCS, the school system’s budget is still $210,000 out of balance. During Tuesday’s BMA meeting, Ailshie made one last plea for the city to increase the appropriation from $300,000 to $500,000.
“We’ll be working between now and Thursday and hope to identify additional savings,” Ailshie said. “I’m not sure how (the budget) will eventually turn out.”
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