KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County School leaders voted to approve a nearly $506 million budget for the upcoming school year on Wednesday night, as well as a 5-year capital improvement plan to fund the creation of three new elementary schools.
The school board voted 8-1 in favor of the 2020 fiscal year budget, with district 8 board member Mike McMillan being the single dissenting vote.
The Knox County Commission still needs to give their final approval on the budget before it can take effect.
"This is of the smoothest years since I've served that we've had in budgeting," Knox County Schools Board Chairperson, Terry Hill said.
In a press release, Knox County Schools said $21,584,000 is how much the new budget increased compared to last year.
"It's been a process of adjustments and changes," Hill said.
The new proposal takes a special interest in teacher pay, which Knox County Education Association President, Tanya Coats said is significant.
"This is the largest amount of increase we've had for educators at 3.5," Coats said.
The plan includes about $16 million for teachers, that is a 3.5% increase. However, members of the Education Coalition say they hope teachers would get just a little bit more.
"It went down from a 4% increase to a 3.5% increase, which is significant to teachers," NAACP President, Rev. John Butler.
Board Chairperson Terry Hall said this will still count as a step forward.
"This is the highest single raise in over 10 years that we've been able to give teachers, assuming everything passes, this is at least pointing us in the right direction," she said.
Other parts of the budget include around $4 million for academically at-risk schools and literacy support, around $5 million for new staff for students with critical needs and about $3 million in savings.
"All of this is pending votes by the school board and county commission," she said.
But overall, all parties agree the common goal is to help students achieve and teachers teach.
"Education is too important to Knox County to not fund it with the essential needs and not to meet the needs of the students," Butler said.
The BOE also unanimously approved a five-year capital budget, which will address construction of three new elementary schools for Adrian Burnett Elementary, Lonsdale Elementary, and Northwest Knox County.