Knox County Schools And Their 2006-2007 Budget

UPDATE: Two request by Brian’s Blog were made to the Knox County School District Central Office for the Agenda for the Monday meeting. A Freedom Of Information request was made by Brian’s Blog at 3:52 p.m. No response has been received from the Central Office, as of 6:18 p.m. Brian’s Blog has received the agenda, through an alternative method and source.

Called Meeting
of the
Knox County Board of Education
Monday May 22, 2006 – 5:00 p.m.
First Floor Board Room
Andrew Johnson Building


1. Discussion of Mayor Ragsdale’s proposed Knox County Schools’ budget – Ron McPherson

2. Follow-up discussion and possible action regarding Knox County Term limits.

I will post more on these items in future post.

UPDATE: As of 1:22 p.m. Thursday May 18, 2006 the Knox County School System website still does not want you to know what is on the agenda Monday May 22, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. This is all they want you to know

Media Advisory Number: 06-038, 05/17/2006
The Knox County Board Of Education will conduct a called meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 22, in the first floor Board Room of the Andrew . . .

What is there to hide?

UPDATE: You read it here first last night. The Knox County School Board will have a special called meeting Monday May 22, 2006. They have finally posted it on the Knox County Schools website, not under Meeting Agendas but under Media Advisory, located here.

As of 9:26 a.m. Thursday May 18, 2006 the problem is the individual Media Advisory is not complete, to where you can open it and see what is on the agenda. I am sure they will fix it shortly. I don’t think they are intentionally shielding the information from the citizens. It is probably just careless work from the web team.

Original Post: This from the KnoxNews website concerning the School Board reaction to Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s budget proposal that was presented yesterday at The Mayor’s State Of The Community address. Sixth district member Chuck James had a previous business commitment. He has full knowledge about the Mayors budget proposal. All other board members were present, except Fifth district Karen Carson and Seventh district Diane Dozier.

Some points to ponder from this story.

Ragsdale recommended increasing the school system’s operating budget from $320 million to $327.1 million for 2006-07.

The school board had requested $333.6 million, which means the board now must slash $6.5 million from its original plan.

What is the writer of this story thinking? Her comment “the school district must slash $6.5 million” is factually inaccurate. There isn’t $6.5 million to slash, The School Board asked for $6.5 million more than the Mayor has proposed. The County Commission has not approved any budget for schools, let alone the $333.6 million. The School Board must start with their budget from last year and now they have $7.1 million dollars in additional local revenue. Since Mayor Ragsdale has been the Mayor, the schools have received more than $36.0 million doallars in New local revenue.

In addition to the $7.1 million in additional income, Mayor Ragsdale is proposing to give an additional $4.0 million in new revenue to the Great Schools Partnership, which affects the classroom, directly.

On the schools proposed capital plan, the Mayor is proposing paying the schools debt retirement for the $16.0 million Powell Middle renovation and expansion. Mayor Ragsdale is also proposing $600,000 for a independent review of the school district’s capital needs, before approving any additional capital projects. This is a smart, business approach that should have been proposed from across the street at the A.J. Building.

The Mayor’s budget also includes $5 million for building maintenance and upgrades, including $250,000 for the Farragut High School science lab. Farragut High School and Oak Ridge National Lab have recently completed a partnership agreement and the county’s additional contribution is appreciated.

Indya Kincannon said to the Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter:

“We had a very modest budget request this year,” she said. “We asked for a 4 percent increase. It sounds like we got more like a 2 percent, and I’m not sure where we’re going to be able to cut $6 million from our proposed budget. It’s not going to be easy.”

Ms. Kincannon, you never had $6.0 million in your budget. Yes, the school district asked for a 4% increase, but you do not get always get what you ask for. Ms. Kincannon, Do you give your children everything they ask for? If your children ask for 10 Oreo cookies, do you give them 10 or do only give them 2? The second school board district should take note, that Ms. Kincannon wants a school district job that is easy because in her words, “It’s not going to be easy.”

Dr. Dan Murphy, Chairman of the board said to the Knoxville New-Sentinel reporter:

“If the money – I’m saying if – if the money proposed is not sufficient,” Murphy said, “then it’s incumbent upon us to make the case to the commission that, folks, at this level we’re coming out short here. We need more than that.”

Look for the school district as early as a formal special called meeting action on Monday afternoon to take a vote that this isn’t enough money. (A special called emergency meeting at 5:00 p.m. Monday May 22, 2006 in the first floor board room of the Andrew Johnson Building located at 900 So. Gay Street in downtown Knoxville, this is 3 hours after the County Commission begins their meeting,)

Kim Waller, President of the teachers labor union said:

“I have concerns that we talk a lot about our test scores being up, schools getting accredited, but I also know we’re still 53rd in starting pay (in Tennessee) if you have a master’s degree in Knox County,” Waller said. “So I think I would like to see an emphasis on teachers’ salaries similar to the emphasis that’s been placed on sheriff deputies’ salaries.”

The Sheriffs deputies as well as all general county employees are getting a 3% raise, not a 4% raise (there are alot fewer general county employees) the state is tentatively suggesting a 2% raise for teachers. With $7.0 million in new LOCAL revenue there is no reason that the school district can not give all of its employees certified and non-certified a 2% or even a 3% raise. The school board has awarded the Superintendent a 2.5% raise for next year and should work its budget to ensure that EVERY employee receive a 2.5% raise. For the school board to do anything less than a 2.5% raise for every Knox County School employee makes the board members all hypocrites.

Also, look for the school board, at this special called meeting on Monday afternoon, to engage a lawyer to represent the school board and specifically Sam Anderson in the term limits lawsuit that is currently pending. Sam Anderson has been sued individually, not the school board. (Go back and view the school board workshop discussion from this past Monday May 15, 2006) The five county commisisoners that brought the original suit and the remaining commissioners that were countered sued have all obtained their own individual lawyers, because they were sued individually. While, Sam Anderson was and is lobbying his colleagues for the board to be represented. This is incumbent protection at its worst sense.

The Knox County Law Department represents Knox County and in the 25 page response that it filed is standing up for the Charter, thus Sam’s agrguement is void and baseless. The School Board and the Charter are being defended. Sam’s attempt to have the board represented by legal counsel is self-serving and an incumbent protection plan funded for by the taxpayers. Any dollars paid out of the school district funds for legal fees to protect Sam Anderson’s position proves the board members do not have the interest of the students first. They would rather spend dollars on legal counsel to protect their own, than spend money on teachers and students and imporoving test scores.

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