Knox County Schools operating budget and the budget process
The Budget Process
The Knox County Board of Education is responsible for developing a balanced budget and for determining how funds within the budget are to be utilized to meet the Board of Education's goals. The Board has no power to change funding sources or amounts.
Knox County Commission determines the final funding amount for the Knox County Board of Education as part of the overall Knox County budget but does not determine how the funds will be utilized. Knox County Commission has the power to change funding sources or amounts.
Each year the Superintendent of Schools, the superintendent’s staff and the Board of Education begin the long and difficult process of developing a General Purpose or Operating Budget request for the upcoming fiscal year that will begin on July 1.
The budget is developed and presented to the School Board by the superintendent. The Board acts upon the budget either by amending, approving or declining the superintendent’s recommendation. Once the Board approves a budget request, it is submitted to the county mayor for consideration as the mayor and his staff develop the budget the mayor will recommend to the County Commission. Once the level of funding is approved by County Commission, the Board begins the difficult task of balancing the budget to meet the approved level of funding. The budget process is generally complete when the County Commission approves the balanced budget submitted by the School Board.
The school system’s operating budget receives revenue from county property taxes, local option sales taxes, the Knox County Wheel Tax, the State of Tennessee, and the U.S. Government. A small amount of revenue categorized in the budget as other local revenue also comes from sources such as fees, licenses and insurance reimbursements.
The federal revenue in the operating budget is generally in the form of reimbursements for ROTC instructor salaries. The school system has some operations that are not funded from the general purpose or operating budget such as the Central Cafeteria or Food Service Budget that is required by law to be separate and stands on its own. The revenue is from meal sales and reimbursement from the federal government for students who receive free or reduced price meals. The system also receives some funding in the form of grants from the federal government that are called title funds because their use is very strictly stipulated by federal title or legislation. These funds are operating funds but are not reflected in the general purpose budget because of the specific nature of the funding.
The school system also has a separate Capital Budget that is designated to fund major school construction. This budget is funded by 11 cents from every dollar collected on local option sales taxes in Knox County.
Schools are built from loans or municipal bonds issued by the county. It’s similar to having a mortgage on a home. Right now revenue for the Capital Budget does not cover the debt on the bonds and KCS annually must supplement this fund from the general purpose budget.
The major emphasis in the KCS budget development is to focus on the classroom. The biggest portion of the KCS budget goes toward instruction and student support. Adding to the challenge of the budget process, however, are major expenditures that are essential but not necessarily instructional related. While classroom instruction is what the system is about, it’s also important that students and teachers are provided a clean, safe and comfortable environment. In fact, KCS incurs some significant costs in the areas of maintenance, transportation, and utilities. Ultimately, everything we do is in some ways directed to the classroom and to the delivery of the best education we can offer.
Structuring a large budget into a format that can be meaningful to the community is important. Looking at the budget from different perspectives helps the school system to focus on how and where taxpayer funds are spent. KCS tries to look at it in two ways: categories of spending and areas of utilization. The categories of spending format clearly illustrates that over 84% of the school system’s budget represents people. Education is service oriented.