IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE UPCOMING SCHOOL BUDGET VOTE FROM THE
League of Women Voters Support School Budget
The League of Women Voters of Knoxville-Knox County supports adequate funding for public schools based on our state position, and formally endorses the $35 million increase in the schools budget as recommended by the Knox County School Board.
The Education committee urges all members to read the following facts and contact your commissioners immediately to support adequate funding for education and this once in a decade opportunity to invest in a stronger community. WE MUST BE VOCAL NOW! THE VOTE COMES IN TWO WEEKS AND COMMISSIONERS ARE COUNTING CALLS, EMAILS, LETTERS. CONTACTS ARE BELOW.
1) OUR SUPPORT IS BASED ON THESE FACTS (sources: KCS, Metropulse, and Chamber)
* Only 47% of our third-graders scored proficient or advanced in reading under the new higher state standards.
* In the Class of 2011, only 19% hit all 4 ACT benchmarks, a nationally recognized indicator of college and workforce readiness (only 685 students out of 2,905 are prepared!).
* Over 60% of students going to area community colleges need remediation.
* Per pupil expenditures of $8,508 this past school year fall well below the state average of $9,084, and further yet, below Hamilton County’s $9,398 and Davidson County’s $11,080, let alone Oak Ridge’s $12,112.
* Knox County has not increased its $2.36 property tax rate in over 12 years. The median homeowner would pay around $10.65 a month , given how the current proposal is written. For someone with a $100,000 house that amounts to .21 cents/day, much less than a cup of coffee.
2) OUR ANALYSIS
The proposed budget is based on Knox County School's first ever five year strategic plan, a roadmap to the investments needed to improve our school performance. The budget adds a $35 million increase over the $384,670,000 base budget. This is on top of the expected $13 million increase in state funds due to enrollment growth. We consider the $35 million the equivalent of a permanent raise. It is a bold plan to advance the schools quickly and ensure that more children succeed.
- Spending will pay for school renovation costs up front, avoiding debt and large interest costs over the long term.
- In the first years, most of the increase goes to renovating schools; The proportion shifts after Year 1 and more of the increase will go to the classroom and operation portion; The operational budget will increase by $7 million more over each of the next 5 years. See charts at www.bethebestknox.com
- The plan targets 9 research-based strategies for improvement including: instructional coaches, full day and five year age kindergarten, additional teaching days, learning technology, including school-wide wifi access, devices, training, and tech support, community schools to address family and community involvement and non-academic needs [local League position], and performance pay. ( See full list)
- The base budget includes a 2.5% base raise for all teaching staff plus merit raises for nearly half the teaching staff. Under this plan, if granted a "raise," the increase in funds coming from enrollment growth could then go toward increasing base salaries for teaching and support staff [*LWV position promotes raise in base pay for teachers and staff, we rank 37th in state].
- The schools agree to be accountable to the citizens and produce improvement [*LWV would like to see an annual report].
DOCUMENTS AND RESEARCH
2. As a public service, the Chamber created an easy to read website to help citizens learn about the school budget and strategic plan at: www.bethebestknox.com Budget charts and documents are found in one place: www.bethebestknox.com/p/meeting-in-box.html
3. All the news articles related to the budget, with good analysis: http://www.bethebestknox.com/
4. Critics say Central Office is bloated, but salaries and numbers do not reflect this. See report: