It was a meeting between those asking for money, and those authorized to give it.

Just one week before the Knox County Commission votes on a new budget, Tuesday night commissioners sat down with the Board of Education to talk about the school spending plan for next year.

The district is asking the county to help cover a loss of nearly $3 million in expected state funding, and an extra $4.5 million for teacher raises.

"Bottom line is, the county needs more revenues for the school to be able to roll out the teacher raises and the technology we think we need to move the school system forward," said Board of Education member, Doug Harris.

Tuesday night, both bodies talked about how they could raise money, or cut costs. While many who represent the school district would like to see a tax increase to supply the county more revenue, several commissioners are strongly opposed to the idea.

Harris said a half-cent sales tax increase could earn the county about $30 million for the school system, which he hopes would be used for teacher salary increase and technology initiatives in schools.

"I don't think a sales tax is the way to go," said Commissioner Mike Brown.

When asked if the district will get the money it requested for teacher raises, he was skeptical.

"I don't see it in the cards, I really don't," he said. "I think it could be done, at least partially, if [the Board of Education] will take a long hard look at school budget and cut out some of the fluff and some unnecessary spending."

Several other commissioners echoed that point -- asking the district to find ways to cover raises with the money already available.

"Some things you can't buy your way out of," Brown said. "You have to take what you have."

"I think the commission was clear, that we need to come back with specific plan of exactly where any extra money would go," Harris said. "The school board and the superintendent are gong to have to lead effort in community and communicate why we need more funding and what, exactly, it's going to go towards."

The commission will vote on the overall plan next week, on May 27. Currently, Mayor Tim Burchett's budget proposal is $727 million, with $424.9 million set aside for schools.

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