Knox County Schools has an annual budget of $470 million.
Knox County Schools is the third largest school district in the state with an annual budget of more than $470 million. Everyday, more than 60,000 students walk into a classroom at one of Knox County's 89 public schools.
This fiscal year, the district will invest $10 million on 10 projects at schools around the county. That includes everything from physical plant upgrades and construction for roof repairs to additions and renovations at four area schools.
"When you’re talking about capital, you rarely have enough. You have to make choices," said Russ Oaks, chief operating officer of Knox County Schools. "We have to work out ways to address our needs and our problems and be creative in how to solve those problems with the resources that we have available to us."
This year, the district has enough money to fund 10 projects around the county.
$1 million will be put towards a $6.5 million addition and renovation project at Inskip Elementary. The construction is set to break ground soon and will increase the school capacity by 700 students.
Another $2 million will be spent on construction at the new Hardin Valley Middle School, and $1.5 million will be spent on construction for the new Gibbs Middle School.
Also on the capital improvement budget for FY18 are $1.75 million in physical plant upgrades, $1.6 million for roof and HVAC upgrades and $1 million for technology upgrades.
"The funding that we’ve got, I’ll say, what we’re working under over the next two or three years is significantly constrained," Oaks said. "We invest where the need is. When we have built new facilities, it has been largely because that is where the growth is."
A look inside the Knox County Schools most in need of construction
The board of education and the school district came to an agreement with the county mayor several years ago limiting the amount of money allocated to schools through the end of Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s term. It is up to the board of education to approve where the available money goes.
Board members say it is based on need.
"I think we’re making due with what we have," said Tony Norman, a member of the Knox County Board of Education representing the Third District. "Building projects are determined by growth. That’s a good approach, I think."
The district said they are doing the best they can with the money that they have.
Parents at some schools who have been bumped off the capital improvement budget in recent years wonder why they have yet to see the same construction other schools have seen.
"The community has grown and we have outgrown that building. There is not a space that is not being used in that school," said Regina Turner, whose kids attended Adrian Burnett Elementary School. "The building is literally sticks and wood. And our kids deserve better. They deserve a building that they’ve been promised for over 40 years."
The Adrian Burnett Elementary School addition or renovation project is on the district's capital improvement plan, but does not have any funding. That means there is no clear timeline of when it will be completed.
"We always do the best we can with what we have," Oaks said. "We can use additional resources … we could always use additional resources."