Prove it to us

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Leaders seek explanation for schools’ wealthy rank

By Damon Lawrence

A resolution questioning Roane County’s status as the 14th wealthiest school system in the state got unanimous support at last week’s county commission meeting.
All 15 commissioners voted for it.
A copy will be forwarded to the Tennessee Board of Education, state Sen. Ken Yager and state Reps. Kent Calfee and Ron Travis.
“Do you think we are the 14th wealthiest in the state, and if so, prove it to us,” County Executive Ron Woody said.
After researching the matter, Woody called it incomprehensible that Roane County would rank 14th out of 136 school systems.
“We have got to get this resolved,” he said. “I wish the school system would do a little analysis on their end to either agree with what we’ve interpreted or tell us how we’re wrong in our interpretation.”
Some of the systems that rank behind Roane County, according to information provided by Woody, include Blount County (No. 19), Maryville (No. 21), Anderson County (No. 28) and Oak Ridge (No. 30).
“When the state talks about us being 14th richest, is that in assets?” Commissioner Steve Kelley asked. “Is that in income? What is the basis for that number?”
Woody said it has to do with the fiscal capacity to pay component in the state’s Basic Education Program.
The program, also known as the BEP, is the funding formula the state uses to allocate money to school systems.
“A fiscal capacity is based on a lot of statistics,” Woody said. “Predominantly I think what they’re looking at is per capita income, sales and property tax.”
Commissioner Ron Berry suggested county officials travel to the state capital to get an explanation on why Roane County is No. 14. 
“I think we need to go to them,” Berry said. “Let’s don’t wait for them to come to us.”
In addition to the resolution, Woody has also sent letters on the issue to Yager, Calfee and Travis.
“It doesn’t look equitable to us,” Woody said.
“I would like for somebody to say, ‘Woody you’re wrong, and here’s the thesis that tells me you’re wrong’.”