Hamilton County Schools go back to the drawing board after budget rejected
It's back to the drawing board for Hamilton County schools officials.
Hamilton County commissioners struck down a the school system's proposed budget in a 5-4 vote on Wednesday morning.
Channel 3 spoke to Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson who says he is disappointed by the outcome.
He says those who will be the most disappointed are the teachers and students.
Dr. Johnson says the school board will have to meet and figure out a new plan.
"This is about children, the reason we all serve," Johnson told Channel 3.
He says the students in the district are the ones he feels sorry for.
"Everything we do is with a child in mind and about making sure students are future ready, so definitely disappointed for them," said Johnson.
Johnson had proposed adding counselors to schools, increasing teacher pay, updating facilities, and investing in the arts.
"We won't be able to do all that we wanted to do, that's an absolute," said Johnson.
The proposed budget included a five percent pay increase for teachers district-wide. Johnson argued higher pay would equate to higher teacher retention.
"We know that our teacher's are our most critical assets. We know we want to remain competitive with the way in which we compensate them and the way in which we support them," Johnson told Channel 3.
He hopes that just because the vote was a 'no' today doesn't mean it can't be a 'yes' in the future.
"I think this community has really shown they support public education but hopefully at some point there will be a desire to invest in a deeper level," Johnson added.
The school budget may have failed, but Johnson says the work continues and he is focused on putting students first.
"Our school door's will open on August the 5th, our buses will run on August the 5th, we will be focused on student achievement on August the 5th," emphasized Johnson.
School officials have until August 30th to come up with a balanced budget.
Dr. Johnson told Channel 3 it is too early to tell if the vote today could mean cutting things like athletics, band, art, and music.
The four commissioners who were in favor of the tax increase include: Chip Baker, Warren Mackey, Katherlyn Geter, and David Sharpe.
Randy Fairbanks, Greg Martin, Sabrena Smedley, Tim Boyd and Chester Bankston all voted against the tax increase.
One of the commissioners who voted with the majority not to raise taxes is Greg Martin, who represents District 3.
Greg Martin issued the following statement to Channel 3:
"Raising property taxes is not the only solution. I believe this will require the School Board to make some difficult decisions, especially when it comes to closing some of our schools and rezoning students. I also believe it's time for our community to take a serious look at identifying other potential revenue sources to fund our school system."
Other commissioners also pointed out the school district will receive an additional $18-million in growth money, and state and federal funds.