CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Commission on Monday will discuss the proposed 2013-14 general fund budget for county schools, which includes a 2 percent raise and a slight boost in expected revenues.
In a recent meeting, school board member Chris Turner questioned the addition of $250,000 in local money to bump a state-funded 1.5 percent salary increase up to 2 percent.
"We chose to increase salaries," said Turner, noting a decreased capital outlay budget from last year. "What other strategic investments made that conversation? What did we consider?"
Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said the decision was aimed at supporting the system's most important component -- the teachers. School employees are the No. 1 reason Bradley County receives top education rankings despite being one of the state's lowest-funded school systems, he said.
Bradley County Schools projects $74.4 million in revenues for 2013-14, an increase of 1.8 percent. Funding from local tax revenues is expected to improve, going from $22.3 million to $22.6 million. State funding is expected to grow to $45.5 million, up from $42.8 million.
The capital outlay budget will shrink from $3.2 million to $1.5 million under the proposed 2013-14 budget.
Planned capital expenditures of $400,000 will go toward a variety of needs, many of them safety-related upgrades such as secure entrances and replacements and repairs to fencing.
Large projects will take up nearly three-quarters of capital outlay funding, including $400,000 for roof replacement at Lake Forest Middle School and Prospect Elementary and $200,000 for a cafeteria expansion at Walker Valley High School. Paving projects will require $137,000, and $350,000 is to be used for updating aging computer systems.
Outside capital outlay funding, Bradley County Schools will receive a one-time boost of $619,000 in state money for classroom technology.
Other budget highlights include a $1-per-seat increase in bus contracts, a new special education bus and more staffing.
A new math teacher and two educational assistants have been requested for Walker Valley High School and Bradley Central High School, respectively. Other personnel requests include four special education teachers and a part-time library assistant for Park View Elementary. Two nurses will transition from part time to full time, and part-time nurse positions will receive an hourly rate increase.
County schools also may benefit from proposed increases in the Bradley County Sheriff's Office budget, which includes requests for three more school resource officers -- one each for Bradley Central and Walker Valley high schools and GOAL Academy.
Some Bradley County commissioners questioned Sheriff Jim Ruth about placing an SRO at GOAL Academy, which has about 50 students. But Commissioner Adam Lowe said school officials identified that as a priority need.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.