Sumner Co. School Board Holds Special Meeting On Budget
by Heather Graf
GALLATIN, Tenn. - The Sumner County Board of Education issued a challenge to the County Commissioners setting their budget: don't turn your backs on our children's education.
School board members on Wednesday night held a special-called meeting to discuss the budget crisis currently facing their school system.
It's a crisis that began when the school board was informed it would have to cut $5 million from this year's budget, and in doing so, cut 91 positions.
On Monday the Board of Commissioners' Budget Committee recommended scaling backing the cuts to the school system, from $5 million to about $4.5 million.
While the school board will take every penny it can get, members said that compromise falls far short of meeting their needs.
"Well what that did is put a band-aid on a broken leg," said school board member Ted Wise.
Board members on Wednesday agreed that if they do get back that additional $576,000, they will use it to save the 40 bookkeeper and athletic trainer jobs that are currently on the chopping block.
Still, they said much more is still at stake.
"You know, it's frustrating," said Board Chairman Don Long. "Everyone wants to point to their school system as the foundation of their community, and if it is, we're going to have to properly fund it."
Several board members encouraged the nearly 200 parents and school system employees that attended the meeting to write, call, and email their county commissioners, and beg them not to cut quite so much.
"I think our funding source, which is our county commission, is going to have to reevaluate their priorities. Do they want to be average? Or do they want to be one of the best school systems in the state of Tennessee?" asked Wise.
The school board also decided to send back a copy of its original budget, to be reviewed by the entire board of commissioners.
Last time, Long said, the Commissioners Budget Committee only spent about four minutes reviewing the document, which outlines the needs of the school system.
"So hopefully the county commission will recognize that these are the needs of their constituents as well, and they will step up and generate some additional revenue," said Long.
The date now on everyone's calendar is next Monday, September 19. That's when the full board of commissioners will set the final budget for Sumner County Schools.