ELIZABETHTON — After weeks of workshop meetings on budget cuts in which nearly $1.3 million was removed for the 2012-13 budget, the Carter County Board of Education will go before the County Commission’s Budget Committee on Monday to ask for a an increase of more than $800,000 to balance the budget.
The board discussed further cuts during a workshop session on Wednesday, including the possible elimination of art and music in the elementary schools when member Daniel Holder said it was time to see “if the County Court can help us.” He said the cuts being discussed would cause the school system “to go back to where we were 30 years ago.”
“So many mandates, so little money,” board Chairman Kelly Crain said.
There also was one new funding need that became known Wednesday. Chele Dugger asked for an additional teaching position for the English as a Second Language program because of the workload. Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said the specialized certification needed for the position would mean it would be necessary to hire a teacher at a higher pay grade, causing the need for an additional $50,000.
The board is faced with rising costs in the form of a state mandate to give teachers a 2.5 percent raise at the same time its revenue has dropped because of a declining number of students.
The rising costs include $714,400 to cover the pay increase. The board felt other school employees deserved the same pay raise as teachers, which would cost an additional $107,000. Health insurance is expected to increase by $395,000.
Against these rising costs, the board faces declining revenues as its student numbers drop, causing the state’s Basic Education Program funds to decline next year by $204,000. Diminishing student numbers also impact local funding because the ratio of county students to Elizabethton City School System students declined. The changing ratio is expected to mean local revenues to the county schools would drop by $469,782 next year. Another unexpected decline is in revenue from the U.S. Forest Service, which is expected to drop by $21,555.
To meet these financial strains, the board has made a long list of cuts, including the elimination of eight teaching positions by attrition, at a savings of $400,000. There were one-time cuts of $300,000 in textbook purchases and $100,000 in bus purchases.
Even after all the cuts, Deloach said the projected expenditure for 2012-13 is $39,225,315. The projected revenues are $38,435,696. That left $789,619. Add to that the new request for one certified English as a second language teacher, brings the total to $839,619.