Knox County Schools has released its preliminary general fund budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY18). It will be presented to the Board of Education on April 12, 2017.
The recommended budget of $471,146,000 represents an increase of $17,664,000 (4 percent) over the current budget. It reflects the district’s commitment and continued focus on the priorities set forth by the Superintendent and Board of Education.
The district has made investments that target instructional initiatives and support while providing resources – an estimated $14 million – to improve educator pay and benefits.
In particular, this budget proposal recommends:
- Increasing teacher and staff compensation. While the district had initially proposed a 4 percent raise for teachers, the Teacher Advisory Committee requested without dissent a smaller salary increase in order to give a substantial raise to teaching assistants. As a result, this budget includes a 3 percent salary increase for teachers and a $1 per hour pay raise for teaching assistants (about 10 percent for entry-level positions).
- Preserving 21 special education staffing positions. The district was notified of significant reductions in federal dollars that have been used to fund those positions, which have been absorbed by the district in this budget.
- Supporting initiatives of the Disparities in Educational Outcomes Taskforce. The district remains committed to providing the resources necessary to eliminate disparities in discipline and academic outcomes. This budget includes funding for training and professional development as well as a new Welcome Center aimed at better serving international and immigrant students.
- Continuing investment in transportation. While the district has made many improvements to its transportation program since 2015, additional enhancements are planned, including improving bus driver compensation. This budget includes $1.2 million toward those efforts and is the second of a three-year commitment.
“We tried to be thoughtful as we worked to develop a responsible budget that met the educational needs of all of our students and teachers,” Superintendent Bob Thomas said. “We are committed to continuing the academic progress we’ve made and believe this budget is a reflection of the investment needed to deepen our strong foundation.”
The FY18 budget must next be approved by Knox County Commission.