Knox County School Board Discusses Budget

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Knoxville (WVLT) - It's a difficult job, but somebody's got to do it!
Balancing the budget for your child's education isn't easy, but the Knox County School Board and County Commission are working together to get it done right.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel attended a budget work session today and has more on where the money is going.

All the "fixed increases" for the budget are met -- that's good news. Meeting the "other needs", like new positions and salary upgrades, will depend on how much money the county gets from the BEP formula.

"What we've done for years is say these are our fixed increases, those are increases you don't have control over those," school board chairwoman Karen Carson said.

But this year, the School Board is taking control to create a better learning environment for Knox County kids.

"Things are a lot better this year than they were last year," board member Robert Bratton said.

Each year the school board struggles with the budget. This time, fewer arguments over which money goes where, and it's all thanks to teamwork between board members and the county commission and of course, more money.

"It appears we will get more money because of the way they re-formulated the BEP this year," Bratton said.

And more money means more progress:

"That makes a difference. You don't feel the pressure at the local level to fund everything entirely," Carson said.

"We're going to get to start design work on four new elementary schools. We haven't stared that many new schools in one year since I was on county commission," Bratton said.

The Basic Education Plan -- or BEP formula -- defines how the state government uses local dollars to fund education.

"In the past, we've been incredibly short changed," Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said.

But the board won't short change your kids' education.

"When we compare to Tennessee, we do a great job, but, when we compare to National and International standards, we still have 29 percent of our 8th graders, only 29 percent, who are reading at proficiency or above. We need to do better than that," Carson said.

That's why a literacy initiative is on the budget.

"It's putting in place education assistance where we need it. So, it's an entire plan on how we will achieve that goal," Carson said.

The literacy initiative is just one of many goals the board hopes to meet with the 2007-2008 general purpose budget. Also on that list: Upgrades in security and technology, among other ideas.

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