The Blount County Board of Education passed an amended 2022-23 budget this month that raises the total more than $2 million from the version passed in March, to $105.6 million

The general purpose school budget, also known as Fund 171, reflects updated revenue estimates and relies on more than $2.55 million from the Blount County Schools fund balance, previously undesignated funds.

When the board initially passed a $103.2 million budget it was $672,000 short in revenue, but BCS had not received an estimate from the state on next year’s funding.

State Basic Education Program funding came in $630,000 higher than this year, and Fiscal Administrator Troy Logan increased the estimated sales tax revenue in the next fiscal year by $409,000, based on continuing growth.

The budget gives teachers a 2% raise on top of step increases and increases the minimum pay for other positions to $15 an hour.

The revised budget includes nearly $1.78 million for the first payment on a $12 million loan from the county for construction of a classroom building and sports facilities at Eagleton College and Career Academy.

Bus raise trimmed

A proposed 10% increase in payments to school bus contractors for seat and mileage rates has been trimmed to 5%, a saving of $271,000.

Board member Vandy Kemp asked at the May 5 meeting whether Logan was comfortable with that cut. “I don’t know if comfortable is the right word,” Logan said.

Most surrounding school districts pay more than BCS. “Ten percent was trying to get closer and shrink that gap,” Logan explained. “On the other hand we’re having to pick up other transportation costs,” he added.

Because a federal grant may not be able to cover special education bus costs along with pay raises, $359,000 for the buses has been moved to the Fund 171 budget. Based on rising diesel fuel costs Logan also increased the line item for that $335,000.

Other additions to the budget including $200,000 for parking lot striping and another $16,000 for elementary art, music, physical education and guidance materials, bringing that total to $60,000 across the 14 elementary schools.

Logan trimmed the Fund 141 budget by $310,000 by transferring four teaching positions to a federal grant budget but added two teachers so that students in the STAGE program for earning high school credits can work at Heritage and William Blount high schools instead of being bused to the Samuel Everett School of Innovation.

Heritage, William Blount and the ECCA will be reimbursed a total of $135,000 for weight room equipment under the revised budget.

The Blount County Budget Committee has a hearing scheduled June 6 on 2022-23 budgets, and the Blount County Commission is scheduled for a final vote on those budgets June 16.

High school updates

At the school board’s May meeting it also approved spending more than $152,000 in the current budget year to replace ceiling tiles and lights in the HHS and WBHS commons areas and the hallway at ECCA that will be used for 10th grade when that level is added next year, as the school transitions from Eagleton Middle School to serving grades 6-12.

That funding is coming from Fund 177, a portion of county property taxes designated only for capital improvements in the county schools and not split with Maryville and Alcoa.

The Blount County Commission approved that spending at its May meeting, 18-0.

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Education Reporter

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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