Sumner Co. 6th Grader Speaks Out About School Budget Crisis
by Heather Graf
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - A sixth grader from Hendersonville is the latest to speak out about the budget crisis currently facing Sumner County Schools.
MeriAllen Krueger, age 13, started doing her own research when she heard nearly 100 school system employees stood to lose their jobs.
On Monday night, she took her concerns to the Budget Committee of the County Commissioners, in the form of a two-page letter she read out loud at the committee meeting.
"I know that I'm not a voter, but my parents and all the other students' parents are voters," she told them. "Since it is our education everyone is talking about, I wanted to be sure you heard something from the students of Sumner County. We want to save our schools."
Her letter addressed everything from aging textbooks and school buses, to the amount of money it would take to resolve the issue.
"I read and heard in the last meeting that if every family gave $63 dollars, we would have the $5 million our schools need," Krueger wrote in her letter. "I know that's a lot of money, but some of my friends and I have already raised over $100 in one weekend to go towards the Sumner County School budget. We almost raised enough for two families."
Her comments come just one week after the school board voted to cut 91 positions and nearly five million dollars from its budget.
"I mean the more we looked at and read and saw what was being cut from the budget, or possibly being cut from the budget, the more interested she became," said MeriAllen's mother, Caroline Krueger.
It appears that MeriAllen's plea on Monday night did not fall on deaf ears.
"The person that came to speak after me, she was a bookkeeper and she was getting fired, and when she finished she said that little girl had to make a speech to beg for her education when she should be at home playing with her friends. And that's when I started crying," said MeriAllen.
At the end of the meeting, the Budget Committee recommended a $576,000 increase to the school system's budget. That money would retain dozens of bookkeeper and athletic trainer jobs that are currently on the chopping block.
In a special-called meeting, the Sumner County School Board must vote whether to accept that recommendation on Wednesday night.
The final budget must then be approved by the County Commission on September 19th.
No matter what the outcome, MeriAllen's parents said they're proud of their daughter.
"It's not an easy task, to get up there and talk in front of those people," said Caroline Krueger.
She also said they plan to save MeriAllen's letter.
"Definitely," she said. "Show it to her kids when she's older, maybe they'll make an impact too."