Blount Co. School Board members fail to save dozens of jobs

Blount Co. School Board members fail to save dozens of jobs

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After some discussion, the board was unable to find a solution, passing the 2013-2014 budget with no amendments. After some discussion, the board was unable to find a solution, passing the 2013-2014 budget with no amendments.
"There's never a guarantee, I don't take it as a guarantee," says teaching assistant Laura McClure. "There's never a guarantee, I don't take it as a guarantee," says teaching assistant Laura McClure.
"There are kids that need a little bit of extra attention for someone to guide them a bit and TAs are there to help them," said parent Toni Caughron. "There are kids that need a little bit of extra attention for someone to guide them a bit and TAs are there to help them," said parent Toni Caughron.
"Make no mistake, this budget is a step backward for our school system," Director of Schools Rob Britt said "Make no mistake, this budget is a step backward for our school system," Director of Schools Rob Britt said

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Blount County School Board members passed the 2013-2014 budget Tuesday night without any amendments, meaning 28 jobs will be cut.

In June, county voters rejected a $35 wheel tax for education.

Later, county commissioners didn't go forward with an effort to fund some part-time teaching positions. The board's request for additional $300,000 to save the 42 teacher assistant positions was denied.

After resignations, there were 28 jobs in total on the line and board members were back to the drawing board to save as many of those jobs as possible at Tuesday's special called meeting.  

However, after some discussion, the board was unable to find a solution, passing the 2013-2014 budget with no amendments.

Jim Compton was the only "no" vote, but Director of Schools Rob Britt says it wasn't an easy decision for anyone.

"Make no mistake, this budget is a step backward for our school system," Britt said after the meeting.

Board member Compton proposed two different amendments to save those 28 jobs, but they failed.

"It's heart breaking really because there's going to be some people losing their jobs," said Laura McClure.

Laura McClure has been a teaching assistant for six years and according to the board, her job isn't in jeopardy.

The 28 people to be laid off have all been hired in the last year.

"There's never a guarantee, I don't take it as a guarantee," says McClure.

The news was met with disappointment from parents like Toni Caughron, who says her main concern is the quality of her daughter's education.

"There are kids that need a little bit of extra attention for someone to guide them a bit and TAs are there to help them," said Caughron.

Caughron is also a teaching assistant in Blount County and says the board's decision makes her nervous for the future.

"You're definitely wondering what's going to happen next year, if you have a position now it may not be there next year."

In total, the board cut 84 positions district wide to make ends meet. The majority were employees that resigned and would not be replaced.

Britt says it's important to remember those numbers on paper are all people in the community.

"Those are people that we will not have in place this year to serve our children and I think that's sad," Britt said.

Layoff notices will be sent out this week, but Britt says there is a chance some of those 28 will be rehired by the beginning of the school year. He says it is common for some part time employees to resign before the first day.

"But of course there's no guarantees," Britt said. "We don't have a crystal ball."

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