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Knox County Schools approved $503.8 million dollar budget

The agenda notes the board approved a $507,827,00 budget. However $3.9 million will go to the Replenish Fund Balance, leaving $503.8 million for the 2021 fiscal year

On Wednesday, the Knox County Board of Education is approved a revised budget for the upcoming fiscal year that is proposing $4.4 million in cuts.

The agenda notes an overall $507,827,000.00 budget however $3.9 million of that is not a part of the fiscal budget, which leaves about $503.8 for the 2021 fiscal year. 

The more than $4 million dollars in cuts took up much of the discussion at the meeting. 

"We all know that this is not the budget that we have talked about over the last year and were hoping for," board chair Susan Horn said.

Several times Superintendent Bob Thomas said the system had to overall cut $10 million just to balance the budget after COVID-19 left a gap in funding. 

Some specific concern was raised about cuts to magnet schools. Board member Evetty Satterfield raised that concern to the board.

"If it gets cut I'm afraid it will keep getting cut," she said. 

In response Thomas eventually responded to those concerns.

"We will make sure they are put back to the funding I said they would have this year," he said. 

Knox County school leaders met last Thursday to discuss the proposed budget. The preliminary budget is set at $503.8 million for the 2021 fiscal year, down from $506.7 million in 2020. 

$4 million in step increases and $3.5 million in fixed increases are still included to pay raises and add new positions. However, the revised budget for 2021 is also proposing $4.3 million in cuts to base costs. 

The majority of those cuts, $1.7 million, would come from a proposal to eliminate 20 positions in the central office and systemwide.

Another $700,000 would come from 5-day furloughs for yearly employees. This would not affect non-supervisory positions such as custodians or maintenance but would reduce yearly employees' 255-day contracts by 5 days.

Another $1 million would be cut from school allocations that supplement costs for supplies and materials, which is a reduction of 50%. 

Other cuts being proposed include reducing contracted services, shaving costs on pre-k programs, and reducing funding for professional development programs next year. 

KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas said the school system is "planning for the worst, and hoping for the best" next year, saying he hopes for a traditional opening for fall.

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