KINGSTON (WATE)— School officials in Roane County are left with some tough choices after Roane County commissioners voted Monday night not to raise property taxes.
A proposed 14-cent tax increase was supposed to make up for a $1.5 million school budget shortfall.
In the past, school officials said without it they would have no choice but to make painful cuts.
Wendy Niff moved to Kingston with her family a few years ago, partially based on the quality of schools in the county. But now, she's worried because of the budget situation facing Roane County Schools.
"It does concern me about what will happen to our schools, how it will impact across the board, and what choices we will have to make about the family," said Niff.
Roane County Schools superintendent Gary Aytes says, for the past few years, the school has received less Basic Education Program (BEP) money from the state due to a change in the funding formula.
Aytes says the school system can no longer dip into its surplus funding to keep it afloat.
"It is devastating, and what we will try to minimize the effects on our academic programs," said Aytes.
To make up for the $1.5 million shortfall, Aytes is proposing cutting new textbooks. That could save around $500,000.
He's also proposing eliminating high school driver's education programs, and eliminating the six school resource officers in the county.
For weeks, officials talked about the possibility of closing Midway High School, but now superintendent Aytes says that idea may now be off the table.
"The logistics of trying to move a school at this point, when you're a month away from school beginning, and would have result in a loss of 14 positions. We want to avoid the loss of any teaching positions, if we possibly can," said Aytes.
Aytes does plan to ask to shut down the county's alternative school, Midtown Educational Center, and re-distribute the teachers and programs there to other county schools.
"Anytime, you start cutting it hurts, but that's what you got to do sometimes," said Vic King, a Roane County Board of Education member.
Aytes says he will also propose eliminating supplemental pay for personnel who help out with academic and athletic extracurricular activities.
He will lay out proposed cuts during the school board's workshop on Monday. The school board will vote at its regular meeting next Thursday.
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