The Knox County Board of Education approved the superintendent’s recommended $370 million Fiscal Year 2009 Operating Budget for Knox County Schools, which includes a 2% mid-year pay increase for system employees.
Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre presented the School Board with a budget recommendation that balanced the $370 million in revenue approved by the Knox County Commission with the planned educational expenditures of the school system for Fiscal Year 2009.
“This has been a difficult budget process, and I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into developing this very reasonable budget,” said McIntyre. “The Board and our staff have done a tremendous job in balancing this budget and still keeping our focus on our academic mission. While it is not all we would wish, it is significant that we have been able to make an investment in employee compensation despite a challenging fiscal environment.”
The approved budget provides for a 2% pay increase beginning in January for teachers as well as all other school system personnel. The budget fully funds the opening of Hardin Valley Academy and the restructure and redesign of Austin-East and Fulton High Schools. It maintains the first phase of the literacy initiative implemented across all grade levels last year, and it meets the expanding need of students who are English language learners.
“Today really begins the budget process for next year,” said McIntyre. “We will be looking closely at all our expenditures and resources to make sure we have them properly allocated to best support what we are doing in the classroom. I do not expect next year to be any less challenging based on current economic forecasts. This makes it critical that we look at all of our spending , the expected outcomes, and whether each expenditure is helping us meet our goals.”
“I appreciate the efforts of Dr. McIntyre, Mr. Mullins and the staff in presenting a sensible, balanced budget in a very difficult economic climate,” said Board Chair Karen Carson. “While we were not able to introduce or expand some desired initiatives, we have been able to maintain our critical investments in teaching and learning.”
The School Board also approved the balanced budget recommendation presented for the Great Schools Partnership (GSP). The GSP has helped fund the school system’s very successful Kindergarten Intervention and
Pre-Kindergarten Programs as well as fully funded several pilot programs designed to increase teacher performance and parental engagement. The $6.2 million approved for the GSP by the Knox County Commission is $2.2 million less than was approved last year.
“The funding available made it necessary for us to restructure and even reduce some of the GSP initiatives, but we have been able to maintain the core of all our joint initiatives.” said McIntyre. “This preserves our options for Fiscal Year 2010. In the coming weeks we will be working with the trustees of the Great Schools Partnership to fully define our relationship and our common mission, and to determine how we will address these initiatives in future budgets.”