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The state finished the 2012-13 fiscal year with a $42 million surplus in its general fund. With such good fortune abounding, Roane County Schools is hoping more revenue will find its way to education.
“Between now and next budget time, we will be asking them if they can help us,” Director of Schools Gary Aytes said about the state.
The school system is facing a financial crisis that school officials said was caused by cuts in state funding.
“The county commission has no control on what the state does,” Commissioner Randy Ellis said. “If I was a school board member, I would be having some joint meetings with my state representation and saying, ‘Hey guys, can you please help us? How can you help us try to get some of this funding restored?’”
School officials attributed the state funding cuts to loss of students and changes in the formula used to allocate money to school systems.
That was a big issue during the recent budget discussions. Some commissioners didn’t think local property owners should have to pay more in taxes to make up for the state funding cuts.
“It sounds to me like the problem you have is with the state,” Commissioner Jerry Goddard said.
Goddard and Ellis were two of 13 commissioners that voted to keep the county’s property tax rate the same for the 2013-14 fiscal year after school officials lobbied hard for a 14-cent increase.
The Board of Education responded to the denial by making cuts and using money from its instructional reserve, but the funding problems remain.
More money from the state would help.
“If they fully funded the BEP (Basic Education Program), it would probably give us another million dollars,” Aytes said.
The state defines the BEP as the “funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools.”
Aytes said at last check, the BEP was $156 million away from being fully funded.