CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley County Schools has proposed to allocate $559,736 to long-term capital projects through the elimination of five teaching positions and keeping general fund reserves to a minimum in the 2014-15 budget.
In a recent meeting, the Bradley County Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve the measure, presented by school board member Chris Turner. Board members Troy Weathers and Christy Critchfield opposed the proposal.
"The five [eliminated] positions come specifically from current openings, from retirements, from resignations and any other terminations performed for any other reasons," said Turner. "Nobody loses their job. There's tons of postings in [teacher job] openings."
The savings was projected to put $250,000 toward the new long-term capital projects funding line. This reduction leaves 543 teaching positions in the school system.
"I think that this board is attempting to look at a long-term solution for problems that may occur in the near future and actually protect positions and jobs for teachers," said Vicki Beaty, the school board's chairwoman. "We have done numerous things this year for protecting the teaching staff. That's what we're about."
Weathers expressed concerns regarding the cuts after two months of budget talks that focused on funding capital needs.
"Get ready, ladies and gentlemen, there'll be more cut next year," said Weathers to a meeting room packed with teachers and education officials. "This is just the beginning ... and if you don't believe that, just sit around and watch. You may not have believed you were going to lose five positions, but you lost five today."
Board member Rodney Dillard criticized the budget even though he voted for it.
"I didn't just vote for eliminating five teachers," said Dillard. "I voted for this county to move on. This has been a bunch of garbage we've been through."
The budget as passed leaves the school system with a minimal - and required - 5 percent reserve balance.
It also requires that the budgeting process start in the fall, with board members submitting requests in October and administration providing a draft budget in November.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.