Union Co. school bus service to end 8 days early

4:11 PM, Apr 19, 2012   |    comments
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The school year is winding down for most students in East Tennessee, but in Union County, they may not have a ride to school for the final days of classes.

Leaders there are trying to close a budget shortfall.

"In the fall of 2011, the school system was short funds of nearly $750,000," said Dr. Jimmy Carter, Interim Director of Schools.

Eventually the system passed a $22 million spending plan and took several steps to erase that deficit.

"One of those were to reduce the number of days that the buses would run by eight days," Carter said.

The other involved asking employees to contribute more for healthcare. No action was ever taken on that plan. Now the system is about $200,000 short.

"Right now, because of where we are with insurance, we're short $110,000 on insurance, and around $90,000 with the transportation," Carter said.

He recognizes the bus issue poses a hardship to parents.

A special meeting is scheduled for May 3rd so Board of Education members can review their options. If no action is taken, the buses will not run the final days of class.

"Whatever we do, we want to make sure we give enough notice to parents so they can make plans one way or the other," Carter said.

Moving forward, the system hopes to begin the budget process sooner to avoid similar situations.

"The school board wants to make sure this doesn't happen again," Carter said. "We believe that working early with county commission we may be able to avoid these budget issues that we had last fall."

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