Sen. Amy Sinclair reports that the Education Committee passed an education reform bill the afternoon of March 7 along party lines, 9-6.
The Senate’s education reform bill, SSB 1228 calls for 4 percent allowable growth, compared to the House’s 2 percent allocation. The 4 percent increase falls more in line to school districts’ needs, according to Knoxville Superintendent Randy Flack and Pleasantville Superintendent Bob Miller.
“As far as budgets are concerned, 2 percent allowable growth is not sufficient,” Flack said. “Across-the-board cuts that have been made in the past few years, an average of 1.3 percent allowable growth for the past three years and elimination of state contribution toward the Instructional Support Levy have led to local cuts in spending and programs. Four percent allowable growth…is essential.”
Rep. Guy VanderLinden said the House passed 2 percent allowable growth because it is what the state can afford. When the final rate is established, approved by both the House and Senate, VanderLinden said he would be willing to consider raising the amount, if there are spending decreases in other areas of the state budget.
“I’m concerned about the 2 percent versus 4 percent Supplemental State Aid (allowable growth),” Miller said. “The number of school districts that will need to use the budget guarantee will increase dramatically. When schools go on the budget guarantee, the extra money that is needed to get to the 101 percent of last year’s budget is pure property taxes.”
The Knoxville School Board passed its budget guarantee resolution at Monday’s regular meeting. The board also approved a budget for publication, based upon 0 percent allowable growth. The budget is included in the Legal Notices.
Knoxville Schools Business Manager Craig Mobley said he used this number “because that was the law when this was done.” Flack told the board Monday night that, for every percentage of allowable growth approved and paid by the state, Knoxville’s property tax levy would decrease by 30 cents. A public hearing on the budget in Knoxville is scheduled for Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m., at 309 West Main.