Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 12, 2014

BOE won't be ready by county's budget deadline

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Board of Education doubts it will meet a deadline for approving its budget to present to the Cumberland County Commission.

During a budget work session April 30, members of the board asked why they were rushing to prepare a budget for the county by May 21 when many of their figures from the state would not be ready until June or later.

"We're talking about a $50 million-plus budget just in general purpose," said Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative. "You know what? Their budget is a drop in the hat to what we have to do. I think we need to slow down a little bit and scrutinize this budget a little bit more. We may ask and not get, but by golly, we can ask."

Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, noted the deadline for federal budgets was May 7.

Brewer said, "We may have to put more general fund money in to help those federal budgets."

Schlafer said, "We've not even discussed Title I, Title II, Title III or Title VI. We haven't discussed special ed."

Brewer said, "How can we approve a budget for them to approve and we don't even know if that's what we need?"

Director of Schools Donald Andrews said the May 21 date was the date requested by the budget committee of the Cumberland County Commission. The preliminary budget was the result of many hours of work by the administrative staff of the school system, and he had a goal to present a preliminary budget in April.

"It's going to be changing," Andrews said. "We know that. We try to position ourselves so that, when the changes come, whatever they may be, we can adjust accordingly to put ourselves in a position to start the school year."

Brewer said, "We're going to rush over there and ask. After the middle of May when we look at these federal programs, I don't want to have to go back and ask for more. I want to go and ask for all of it, and then let them chop us back to what they want us to have."

The board continued to look at the budget and areas that had been reduced, including the Career and Technical Education budget, which cut $175,000 in personnel costs.

The savings come from using the nine CTE middle school teachers as part-time teachers of CTE and then using them for Response to Intervention (RTI) at the elementary level. The state has issued new mandates for RTI in elementary schools, requiring additional time for intervention with students needing assistance.

All but one of the CTE teachers were already assisting with RTI. The change comes from only half their salary coming from CTE, teaching a half-day of their subject area, whether it be agriculture, teen living or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and not traveling between schools.

"We don't need to cut CTE," said Schlafer. "If we have to cut something, I hope we can piecemeal it somewhere else, but let's not do that."

No positions are cut from the budget, but the move does reduce CTE offerings at the middle school level to only the area the teacher of the school is certified to teach.

Andrews said, "If you choose not to cut, we can go and ask for additional dollars."

The board will meet May 21 at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the budget again. The meeting will be held at the Central Services office on 4th Street.

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