Hamilton County school leaders present $34 million budget increase to county commission
A highly controversial school budget is now in the hands of county commissioners.
On Tuesday, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson presented the annual budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which included a $34 million increase compared to last year's budget.
The hour-long presentation included an outline of what the extra funding would go toward, such as a pay raise for teachers, funds for new technology, additional positions, and upgrades to old facilities.
Dr. Johnson said the budget is aligned with the school system's five-year strategic plan.
If approved by the county commission, the increase would reportedly require a 49 cent increase in property taxes.
"I'm very mindful of the heavy responsibility that county officials have around making decisions for funding our future and don't take likely that level of responsibility," Johnson said.
The required increase in property taxes is the reason some county commissioners like Tim Boyd aren't in favor of the budget.
Boyd said he didn't understand why the school system needed more money to continue to make improvements.
"Our cost per student continues to be one of the highest in the state," Boyd said.
Commissioner Greg Martin said he's concerned about the budget increase as well.
"The taxpayers provided some additional funds a couple of years ago, well less than two years ago, really, to build some schools," Martin said. "I'm looking forward to when the school board brings a plan to rezone and consolidate some schools."
Despite the controversy, Dr. Johnson said it's time for the community to step up and show it's support for education.
County commissioners will make a final decision on the overall budget in June.