From: Dr. Randall Montgomery <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, May 10, 2012 at 3:09 PM
Subject: Kingsport City School Budget Information
Dear Friends of Kingsport City Schools,
At such an important time for our city and school system, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the story behind our 2012-2013 budget and make you aware of the key items found in the proposal. As is the case with many school systems across the state, increased expenses and lowered expected revenues are resulting in the need for additional support to simply maintain current programming and staffing, let alone add new and innovative programs.
Beginning in January, the KCS budget committee, made up of Board members and school system administration, began a series of meetings with each school principal and key department leaders, identifying areas of need and priorities for next year's budget. After then reviewing last year's expenses, the proposed needs, and anticipating future costs and revenues, a formal complete budget was prepared and presented to the Board.
It has been widely reported that the proposed budget for 2012-2013 includes large increases in both staff and expenses. A closer look at the specific facts from the budget provide some clarity to this misperception.
- The budget includes additional funding for 12 academic coaches in 2012-2013, one for each school and two at Dobyns-Bennett. However, this does not mean that 12 new positions are being created. Currently, nine academic coaches are currently on the job, providing support to teachers across the system thanks to federal funds designated for this purpose. The results of this support have certainly been impressive… KCS students rank #5 in the state in Math, with 5th graders holding the top spot among 136 school systems. Next year, this federal funding will no longer be available. By paying for these positions with local money, we can save these jobs and continue to give teachers this important support. By not funding the coaches in our budget, these nine jobs will be lost.
- Currently, both middle schools and five of our elementary school principals are given needed support by an "Assistant to the Principal." This teacher-level position is critical, given the requirements placed on principals through the new teacher evaluation system, state mandates, and needed instructional support. Three of our elementary principals currently have no such support and are placed in the difficult position of handling these needs alone. The budget includes three positions to give these principals the support they need to most effectively lead their buildings in this critical time.
- With eight other teaching positions that will be required across the system due to annexation, increased enrollment and state academic requirements at Dobyns-Bennett, the funding required for these staffing needs represents "bare bones" needs, not luxury spending for unneeded or unnecessary wants. In order to meet both the state requirements and expectations of our local community, the board feels strongly that these are needed positions for our students and schools to remain elite. In total, meeting all of these staffing needs will cost just over $1.5 million.
- Our city government and community have sent a clear message that innovative and forward-thinking programs are vital to KCS keeping its place at the forefront of Tennessee education. As such, two new initiatives have taken place this year. The joint STEM platform middle school with Sullivan County and the KCS/Northeast State Community College Early College are two such programs. With these, Kingsport students will receive cutting edge educational opportunities in science and technology, and have the opportunity to be prepared for life and careers after high school in ways not previously possible. However, these programs aren't free. If we want to be able to lead the way in providing innovative and exciting opportunities for our children, we must understand that there are financial costs involved that require our support. For example, though the system received funding from a state grant to start the new STEM middle school, those funds cannot be used for regular yearly operating expenses. For 2012-2013, funding these programs will cost KCS just over $600,000.
- For two of the past three years, our employees have not seen an increase or cost of living adjustment to their pay. This year, the state mandated a 2.5% pay increase for teachers. And since so much of our student's success is supported by the other staff members working so hard in our schools, we feel it is important to give that same increase to all KCS employees. However, this also comes with a cost. To fund the 2.5% pay increase for all staff, just over $1.5 million is needed.
- Finally, there are simply operational costs that have increased and require additional funding. These include higher costs for health insurance, retiree health insurance, worker's compensation, electricity, and city disposal and storm water fees. When you add them all up, this totals over $460,000 in additional required funds.
Additionally, several significant funding sources to KCS are being reduced or eliminated in 2012-2013. Two of these include:
· Funding from the state will decrease by over $400,000 due to the fact that the financial health of Sullivan County is positive. This "BEP" (Basic Education Plan) funding is largely based on a county's ability to pay. Since Sullivan County is doing well, the state calculates that it does not need the same level of funding help as in previous years.
· For the second year in a row, due to a change in the way the Sullivan County Commission has elected to appropriate bond funds, Kingsport City Schools will not receive approximately $410,000 in annual funding due to bond payments for the renovation of Sullivan County's Ketron Intermediate School. This will also occur annually for the next 13 years, resulting in more than $6 million in lost revenue for KCS.
I hope that by seeing the reasoning behind our budget request to the city, you will understand that we are not requesting luxuries or unnecessary items. With the increased costs and expectations placed upon our schools today, we feel strongly that the staff and programs found in the 2012-2013 budget represent the bare minimum needed to keep KCS among the state's elite. Once again this year, Dobyns-Bennett High School was identified as one of the nation's elite high schools by U.S. News and World Report. If we truly desire for Kingsport City Schools to continue to rank among the nation's best, we must be willing to make the financial commitments necessary for our students, teachers, and staff to maximize their potential.
To better provide you timely and accurate information, please click here to view the full budget proposal report that was presented to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, April 30, 2012.
We welcome your thoughts, comments, and feedback on our 2012-2013 budget proposal. A short confidential survey has been prepared to receive your feedback. Please click here to leave your thoughts.
As always, thank you so much for your support of our students and for Kingsport City Schools.
Dr. Randall Montgomery
President, KCS Board of Education
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