JC school board finalizes budget including athletics and field h

JC school board finalizes budget including athletics and field house

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After a three hour meeting, Johnson City school board members finalized the 2014/ 2015 school year budget. Instead of celebrating the completion of a budget, Johnson City's School Board Chairwoman had a stern warning.

Last month, the board slashed more than $2 million from it's budget.

"We made cuts to academics, and we made cuts to safety programs and we made some cuts to athletics," said Board Chairwoman Kathy Hall.

Monday night it was standing room only, most wondering about the future of the athletics.

At its last meeting, board members talked of the elimination of
seventh and ninth grade sports. Monday night, that $30,000 got restored.

"(We) realized that it just wasn't fair to all the students," said Hall.

Also up for debate, the much talked about Science Hill High School field house.

Last week, Johnson City commissioners voted to go into debt to build the facility as long as the school board found $400,000 in its budget. A worthy investment according to the school's athletic director.

"That facility not only does it help sports it's going to help our academics with the P.E. curriculum and those sort of things too," said Athletic Director Keith Turner.

But board member faced even greater pressure from donors, some who've given thousands of dollars to build a new field house.

"Looks like this thing might possibly fall through," said donor Carleton Jones. "Not only are you going to lose a possible future donors, but I won't get my money back if this falls through."

After debate, funding for the field house was restored along with some textbooks, two activity buses, technology and the HEROES school counseling.

"We restored the money to the HEROES grant," said Hall. "When I say restored, what we actually are doing is saving it for one more year and it's out of fund balance, so it's only done for one year."

Hall said if schools don't getting a funding increase next year, they will be out of luck.

"Really at the end of this year our fund balance will be low enough that we won't be able to bounce back and rescue anything next year," she said.

In deciding against a tax increase, some city commissioners said this year will be about increasing efficiency cutting costs.

Monday Hall said communication will be key because the school system will likely be in the same tough spot next year.

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