KINGSPORT — City school leaders have voted for a 2014-15 general purpose school budget that needs $775,000 in new city funding to balance, plus another $750,000 in additional city funds to purchase student computers.
And those numbers don't include any funding for a DeJong- Richter facilities study to cost just shy of $190,000, a study for which the school system may ask the city to pitch in $140,000 since the system has set aside only $50,000 for it.
In a marked departure from prior year budget requests, including a general fund increase request of $1.8 million this time last year, the Board of Education is asking for less of an increase from the city Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The $775,000 increase would bump the city's funding to $10,976,400, Budget Director David Frye said at Tuesday night's meeting, not including the computer funding of $750,000.
Part of the reason for the lower increase request is that some revenues are up, mainly because of enrollment increases, but another part is that the budget includes no cost-of-living increase for teachers or classified staff.
The only raises are step increases on the new salary scales recently adopted by the board. Citing revenue issues, Tennessee lawmakers provided no money for teacher or state employee raises next school year.
"It's amazing how much it takes just to keep pace with the growth," Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said near the end of the budget discussion.
BOE President Carrie Upshaw said she believes the technology money for computers has strong support on the BMA and that she is saddened the school system can't afford across-the-board raises.
"To not be able to do the raises for the teachers is painful," Upshaw said. "Like Dr. Ailshie said, this is just keeping up."
The general purpose school budget approved 5-0 by the school board would be $68,479,500, an increase of $2,809,850 over the current 2013-14 budget.
"They (the public) appreciate us being cost conscious, but I think they have an expectation," board member Randall Montgomery said of growing a quality school system.
Frye said that $2,033,600 in costs in the budget proposal are simply maintenance or enrollment increase items, including utility increases, step increases, 10.5 new teaching positions to handle enrollment increase projections and some lost funding from other sources, including federal Race to the Top grant money.
The entire budget package is $76,742,867 compared to $74,433,531 last year. That is comprised of $68,477,500 general purpose school fund, $3,195,900 in the self-supporting school nutrition fund, $3,827,459 in the federal projects fund and $1,240,008 in the school special projects fund.
Separate from all that, Frye said the draft capital improvement budget for the year is $1,680,000 compared to City Manager John Campbell's tentative amount of $1,150,000. School officials will present the proposed budget to the BMA work session on Monday at 4:30 p.m.
In other action, the board heard a presentation from Scott Leopold of DeJong-Richter, who, among other things, outlined the community input process set for the May 16 Educational Futures Conference from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
After that joint meeting with Sullivan County and Kingsport education stakeholders, he said future meetings would be separate.
The county's part of the parallel but separate study is to cost no more than $270,000, half to be paid by the county school system, the other half by the County Commission.
Ailshie said the city system has set aside $50,000 for a study, so it will likely ask the city to pay for more than half of the $189,000 study. Ailshie said a called meeting to approve the DeJong- Richter contract may be held before the May 20 BOE work session.
The board also voted 5-0 to approve a new mobile device app development course at Dobyns- Bennett High School next school year, as well as to approve joining the BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative.comments powered by Disqus