Putting Knox County Schools budget ad to truth test

Putting Knox County Schools budget ad to truth test

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A television ad supporting the Knox County Schools budget request began running Thursday. The 30 second ad is funded by members of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce by the Partners Initiative Fund.

6 News broke down the ad, claim by claim, and put it to a truth test.

The first portion asks, "Why support the $35 million Knox County School budget increase? Because compared to surrounding school districts funding for students in Knox County ranks at the bottom."

We find this claim to be true.

According to data from Knox County Schools, Oak Ridge spends $11,457 per student, Maryville spends $8,835, Sevier County spends $8,432 and with the lowest per student, Knox County spends $7,991.

6 News also checked with the state Department of Education on Blount, Loudon and Anderson County, and Knox County still spends the least per student.

The next portion of the ad says, "Children are falling behind, creating an even greater future tax burden for all of us." The chart says one in five students are not college ready.

We find the chart portion of this claim to be true.

Knox County Schools about says 19 percent of students in 2011 scored a 21 average on their ACT. That is the benchmark score given by ACT to determine college readiness.

According to the University of Tennessee's Pre-College Program, they consider benchmark ACT scores as an accurate definition of college readiness.  

The next segment depicts the amount $10.65 per month and calls it a "low cost, high return investment."

We find this to be true, but the number changes based on individual property values.

According to the Knox County Property Assessor's Office, the $10.65 per month price tag is on top of what a person pays per month in property taxes for a median-valued home. A median-valued home is $146,500.

That number is based on the original 35-cent proposed tax increase. The most recent proposal of a 31-cent tax increase would bring that number down to $9.40 per month.

And the last portion of the ad claims the budget "provides transparency, accountability and programs proven to boost student performance."

We say this claim is up for debate.

Both those in favor and against the school board's budget proposal have argued over its accountability.

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