School budget discussions took center stage at Monday night's Board of Education meeting. Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre presented his budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which totals $419.75 million.
McIntyre calls his budget "conservative" compared to his request last year, asking for an increase of $13.27 million (3.3 percent) over the current budget.
See attached documents for budget outline and memo from the Superintendent
"It's a responsible budget that falls within our current revenue projections and where we think we'll be in terms of available revenues in the upcoming year. I also think its an important investment in our children and in the future of our community," McIntyre said.
The superintendent details four priorities in his request: enhancing educator compensation, sustaining instructional improvement initiatives, facilitating personalized learning supported by technology, and bolstering student safety efforts.
"The majority of the increase in this budget proposal is for compensation, in particular for teacher raises," said McIntyre, who wants to use $7.59 million to keep Knox County competitive against other school districts. "If a teacher is an effective teacher and they've been in the classroom a while, they can go to another school system and drive another 15 minutes and make another $7,000-$8000 dollars right away."
The budget proposal calls for a 2.5 percent pay increase split into two increments: a 1.5 percent increase at the beginning of the school year and 1 percent boost in January 2014. The budget also includes $1.27 million to continue to sustain the school performance-based pay initiative, APEX.
The "compensation" part of the budget also includes $370,000 to extend middle and high school principal contracts to year-round. McIntyre hopes to add elementary school principals to the deal in the future.
The superintendent has asked for $7.15 million for 58 additional school security officers to be placed in the districts school by the fall.
"As we think about education in the world after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I think there's really a heightened expectation about safety and security in our schools and we want to make sure we're doing everything in our power to keep our kids safe and our schools secure."
McIntyre is also calling for a number of other security measures like current-generation video camera systems and school access control strategies, which will be included in the capital budget proposal.He will introduce that plan in the coming days.
Technology initiatives make up a $7.15 million dollar portion of the budget. McIntyre's proposal includes a 10-school pilot program called 1:1:1, an effort to have one technology device for each one student and one teacher. So far, 28 schools have already applied for the School Technology Challenge.
The Board is expected to vote on the budget at its April 9th meeting.