Knox County BOE approves budget while staffing concerns linger

April 12, 2017: The Knox County Board of Education voted to approve the district's 2018 budget.

Teachers, parents and board members all raised questions about salary increases and the future of hiring and firing in Knox County during the Board of Education's budget meeting Wednesday night.

This budget is good news for some teachers who'll be getting raises, but board members say they're frustrated with cuts being made to other positions that are valued by staff and students.

On Wednesday, school board members approved three budget items in a meeting that spanned two hours.

All but one board member voted to approve $471 million in the general purpose budget. Gloria Deathridge was the dissenting vote.

"It's not that I'm against anybody getting raises, but it's hard when you have raises for some teachers and it means others are going to lose their jobs,” Deathridge said.

Those getting laid off include three members of the assistive technology program. The program provides students with technology they use in class and can take home.

Several parents say the loss negatively impacts their children. Knox County Schools says the program will be changing, but students won't see a reduction in services.

Wednesday's vote approved a three percent raise for teachers and a $1 raise for teaching assistants.

Questions were raised about bumping the teachers' raise to four percent.

"An additional percent would cost $2.4 million for certified employees and there would have to be reductions somewhere within the budget to live within the revenue that's been projected right now,” said Superintendent Bob Thomas.

One thing that could make the budget clearer in the future is making it easier to read. The board hopes to start that process next year.

"We don't always have the total number of positions being lost, positions being added,” said board chair Patti Bounds.

The Knox County Schools general budget covers five major categories including salary, benefits and transportation. The board also voted unanimously to approve $10 million in spending for capital improvement and $28 million in nutrition spending.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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