By Ben Lawson
School officials have been preparing for big changes to come this school year, including a new teacher evaluation system and budget cutbacks.
At the School Board meeting Monday, a budget that would eliminate a $3 million deficit was approved for 2011-2012.
As presented by finance director Karen King, the budget was crafted with strategic cuts in mind including more than $1 million for textbooks and $400,000 for new computers. Of particular concern were cuts in the electric and natural gas budgets, which King indicated would have to be added back in should weather be bad this winter.
On the positive side, the county was awarded a federal grant of more than $200,000 to be added back in. While the desire for more state funding is strong, the school system must currently take a wait and see approach.
Also during the meeting, the board approved the purchase of land in Seymour for future school expansion, which includes the current plan to build a junior high school.
The budget challenges follow on the heels of Tennessee’s evolving education system, which will introduce new evaluation mandates for teachers this year, and the new collaborative conferences which are replacing one-on-one contract negotiation.
“We are one of the few school systems to be doing this,” Director of Schools Jack Parton said.
He and the other administrators remain optimistic about the new year. Parton cited the Smoky Mountain Jamboree, which raised more than $10,000.
“It’s a good way to kick off the school year,” he said.
Board Optimistic Despite Changes
By Ben Lawson