Proposed school budget passes, includes teacher raises - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Proposed school budget passes, includes teacher raises

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Tough words from both sides as Hamilton County School Board members work to balance the budget.

Members passed the proposed budget Monday in a 6-2 vote that includes a 2-percent raise across the board for all employees.

The state also agreed recently to pick up more of the cost to fund insurance for teachers statewide. In years past, the state paid for 10 months out of the year with districts picking up the rest. Now, the state will fund an additional month which in turn saves Hamilton County nearly $2 million.

“Getting an additional month helped us with that. We'll look this year and see if they finish that calendar year and we are hopeful for that,” Superintendent Rick Smith said.

Board members Dr. Greg Martin and Rhonda Thurman voted against the budget, saying they didn't support using one time use funds like the liquor tax and fund balance. Many of those that voted for the budget agreed the move would haunt them later.

“I just don't think it makes good business sense to spend one time money on things that are ongoing expenses,” Martin said.

Smith says while he understands the concern, it's what he had to do in order to move forward.

“Anytime you use one time use funds, you've got to be aware of what you're doing. We feel like right now this is what we have to do to get us past this point in our budget cycle,” Smith added.

Even though the board was able to balance the budget without cuts this year, Martin says it's just a matter of time if the district continues to rely on these kinds of funds.

“Then we'll have a whole lot of cuts we'll have to do three or four years down the road, if not sooner,” Martin said.

The budget isn't set in stone just yet. It now goes to Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. He will present his overall budget on Wednesday. Then the county commission will vote later this month.

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