Knox County Commissioners voted Monday night to give Knox County Schools a portion of the extra money they asked for, but not all of it.
There was more than an hour of public comment, during which support and opposition were mixed for the proposed budget and tax increase.
When commissioners finally got down to business, Commission Chair Mike Hammond gave his own proposal: give the schools an additional $4 million funded by the county's general fund, the school's general fund, and anticipated Basic Education Program funding, not a tax increase.
The break down will come as $1.5 million could come from the county, $1.5 from the schools, and $1 million from BEP.
Adding that to the additional $3 million Mayor Burchett allocated in his budget proposal, the schools will receive an total of an additional $7 million this year. That comes to about 20% of the request.
How they voted:
Sam McKenzie: yes
Amy Broyles: yes
Tony Norman: no
Jeff Ownby no
Dr. Richard Briggs: yes
Brad Anders: yes
R. Larry Smith: no
Dave Wright: no
Mike Brown: yes
Mike Hammond: yes
Ed Shouse: yes
The $35 million proposed annual increase would have meant an additional $175 million for schools over five years. It covers a long-term plan that the district believes will strengthen the futures of its students.
In March, Superintendent Jim McIntyre introduced the plan calling for additional school funding.
Fulfilling that request will require a tax increase, which Mayor Tim Burchett adamantly opposes.
He says he is uncomfortable with the fact that an appointed official gets to decide how to spend over 60% of the county's budget.
McIntyre says the nine elected school board members have provided a very clear, transparent and detailed budget.
How the funding increase would have affected the 2013 school year
Under the facilities and technology section for fiscal year 2013, $1.5 million is allotted to the technology plan. That funding would jump dramatically in the four years that follow.
"What we're suggesting is that we move to put a device in the hands of every child," said Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.
$23 million would go to building improvements at three elementary and three high schools next year. Other schools would see the funding as the proposal plays out over the following four years.
"Making sure we have a safe, healthy, inviting learning experience for our students and to do so in a way that would not incur any additional debt," the superintendent said.
In the operation portion of the budget, more than $3.6 million is listed for teacher support next school year. That is more money for LEAD teachers, instructional coaches and restoring teacher positions.
"Additional coaching resources, additional professional development resources to really enhance the quality of study they provide everyday," McIntyre added.
After this coming school year, the extra funding would start shifting to more instructional time, performance pay for teachers and full day kindergarten.
Order of Compromise
No matter what amount ends up going to local schools, district leaders ultimately control Knox County Schools spending.
That is mandated in an "Order of Compromise," a legal agreement between the board of education and the county. That agreement came about nearly 10 years ago after the school board and several county offices sued each other.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett told 10News it also raises questions about accountability.
"It allows someone who's in an appointed position to have complete control over 62 percent of the county's budget and to me that's not right," said Mayor Burchett.
"The school board is a nine member body that's elected by the people of Knox County to provide a great education for our kids. I know they're going to hold me accountable for achieving the results that were articulated with this budget," said Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.
Commissioner Ownby attends discussion
Commissioner Jeff Ownby was in attendance at Monday's meeting.
He was arrested in Sharp's Ridge Park and charged with indecent exposure last month. He's currently out on bail.
Last week, Ownby's attorney said he has no intention of resigning, and that he would be taking part in the commission vote.
Ownby previously told us he was against the tax increase without adding more funding for the sheriff's office as well.
10News has been taking an in-depth look at the proposed budget in our "School Spending" series. Follow the links below to read more about the following topics.