The $69,940,000 budget will be presented to the Bradley County Commission during a budget hearing on May 20 at noon.
Finance director Rick Smith presented an updated copy of the budget to the board listing the number of positions in each line item. The budget includes funding for a 2 percent raise for employees and seven new positions, partially funded by the state.
“I would like to understand in the proposal and the recommendation to the board what were the competing alternatives for that $4 million investment,” Board member Chris Turner said.
He said he wanted to understand the process of choosing salary increases as the greatest need.
“We believe that our employees are the No. 1 reason why we can be one of the lowest funded school systems in the state and still score near the top. It’s about the people. ... It was a priority for me,” Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said.
He said since a 2 percent federal tax break for teachers ends this year, the increase will offset this.
“There is no real raise because of the decisions that were made at the federal level,” McDaniel said.
Other needs where the funds could have been applied were technology or additional staff, McDaniel said.
Turner asked why one travel line seemed larger than the others. McDaniel explained the mileage reimbursement for the energy management supervisor’s position came out of that line item. Turner said based on the amount being spent, compared to the last vehicle purchase the board approved, the school system should consider providing a vehicle for that person to use.
“That’s certainly an option,” McDaniel said.
Turner said in the future he would like to see the board more involved in developing the budget.
“I feel ... as representatives of our community we should have the opportunity to give some input and insight into the priorities our residents ... would like to see reflected in that investment,” Turner said.
Capital outlay projects were also approved. These projects focused on roofing maintenance, safety and paving. There was also $350,000 included for technology upgrades. Total estimated costs for the projects totaled $1.5 million.
Terri Murray presented the budget for the school’s federal programs, such as Title 1.
“Our schools that are Title 1 schools have a task force and they really decide how they are going to spend their money,” Murray said. “You also have Title 2 and Title 3 in there. Title 2 is really staff development.”
The budget was approved unanimously.
Also during the meeting, supervisor for secondary education Dan Glasscock presented information about the implementation of the SpringBoard curriculum in Bradley County middle schools.
“SpringBoard comes out of the College Board organization, which is who does the advanced placement testing,” Glasscock said.
He said it is a way to provide more rigorous courses for students. The program will also be implemented in ninth and 10th grade at Walker Valley High School next year. The program will not be implemented at Bradley Central at this time because students in ninth and 10th grade are taking pre-Cambridge program courses.
Glasscock said the program was thoroughly researched and opinions of those using the program were sought before the decision to implement it.
“I really feel ... it will make our good teachers even better,” Glasscock said. “It is a program that strengthens the teachers role, not minimizes it.”
There is also a lot of teacher professional development as a part of the program.
The program would serve as a preparation for middle school students for Advanced Placement classes.