KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Board of Education voted 4-1 Thursday night to close a $2.4 million budget gap and balance its 2012-13 budget.
The BOE used some increased revenue projections to close the gap, but the bulk of the budget balancing — about $2.1 million — was through cutting proposed expenditures.
And the bulk of that was cutting positions that included 11 proposed academic coaches and eight proposed teaching positions, although the budget leaves in five “discretionary” teaching positions that may be needed to cover an expected enrollment increase.
School leaders had asked the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for $2.425 million in additional operational funds, but the first reading BMA budget approved earlier this week included only $300,000 in new city funding.
The changes make the general purpose school budget $63 million.
“It’s not like we took everything (budget request) that was asked for. It’s very, very sad for me,” BOE member Susan Lodal said.
BOE Vice President Carrie Upshaw cast the lone vote against the reduced budget. Upshaw said she has lain awake at night struggling with the budget being cut in many areas but still including more than $500,000 to help launch Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, a joint Kingsport/Sullivan County STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) platform school.
Although she and other BOE members said they were thrilled the school drew 516 contenders for 160 slots, Upshaw said she can’t help but wonder about spending money on 80 city STEM school students “at great expense to the other 6,000 in the system.”
Upshaw said that unless more money is spent on city schools, the system will begin to move backward instead of holding its ground or moving forward, as she said it did with the help of the Federal Jobs Bill money that just dried up.
“That is the reason I want the community to know that if we do not have a radical change (in school funding) we will be going backward,” Upshaw said.
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