Monday, May 4, 2015

Burchett not expected to fully fund BOE budget or three new schools

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is not expected to fully fund the Board of Education’s budget request for the upcoming year, leaving school officials to figure out where they will find some $6.5 million to make up the difference.

The mayor also isn’t expected to support the construction of any of the three proposed new schools when he unveils his recommended own spending plan on May 11.

The school board in April approved a $441.5 million budget, which was then sent over to the county mayor’s office to incorporate into the overall spending plan for the entire county. The board also approved a $19.2 million capital plan that including some costs for building a middle school in Hardin Valley and a new elementary school. In addition, the board voted to include a middle school for the Gibbs community, but did not include or designate monies to build it.

In an email sent Monday from Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre to school board members, McIntyre said Burchett “likely” planned to appropriate $435 million for the schools. He also said that after meeting with the county’s finance director he doesn’t feel that the mayor will support any new school this year.

McIntyre noted, though, that Burchett does plan to cover the almost $3 million early reading initiative that he established several years ago.

The schools – if approved – would more than likely each cost $2 million to $3 million annually to staff and operate. They also would cost $20 million to $30 million to build.

Burchett, whose office declined to comment on Monday, will present his budget next week before the Knox County Commission. The commission will then spend the next couple of weeks reviewing it and making potential changes.

The board, if it chose, could set aside more money for the school system.

When McIntyre initially proposed his budget, it was already above and beyond revenue projections by $5.5 million. Burchett expected recommendation would add another $1 million to that.

The KCS proposed budget of $441.5 is a 3.9 percent increase, or about $16.5 million jump, from the current school system spending plan.

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