The board then proceeded to agree to cut eight support positions for newly opened schools that had not yet been filled, to eliminate coaching stipends, not to buy new buses or add new bus routes, to eliminate furniture allocations for schools and the Beacon Reading program and to reduce the fund balance by over $1million.
They also decided to “respectfully request” the county commission give them 24 cents instead of 20, so they could keep the coaches’ stipends in the budget.
Finally, the board directed Director of Schools Mike Davis to make the needed cuts on Oct. 1, if county commission does not change its mind about the funding.
A reliable source informed The Wilson Post that during a principal’s meeting Wednesday morning school employees decided that if the county commission does not approve the extra 4 cents in its meeting on Monday, Sept. 15, all extra curricular activities will cease on Sept. 16.
Davis said that the consensus seems to be that the schools are not going to try to sustain an athletic program without coaches even though canceling games means the schools would have to pay forfeit fees to those schools they have already contracted to play.
The athletic programs, cheerleading, marching band and chorus are all supervised by teachers who receive a stipend for doing so. If the stipends are not funded those teachers say they will need to seek part-time employment to replace the income involved.
The school system’s only actual expenses for the athletic programs are the coaching stipends. Everything else is covered either by the gate receipts at sporting events or by contributions from the booster clubs.
Other possible cuts that were discussed were closing the MAP Academy, eliminating all In-School Suspension (ISS) teachers at the elementary schools, moving 12 assistant principals back into the classrooms and laying off 12 teachers, eliminating the 13 school nurses who are not required by law to serve special needs students, eliminating all teachers’ assistants in regular education classrooms, or most drastic of all, suspending bus service.
Davis pointed out that while suspending bus service would balance the budget it would present the greatest hardship for students and their families and also cause the schools to be unable to meet attendance requirements from the state.
Eliminating the MAP Academy and the ISS teachers would mean using out of school suspension for those students, sending them home in some cases for infractions of the dress code or for being tardy for class.
All members of the board opposed the layoffs of any employees if it could be avoided.
The newest member of the board, Vikki Adkins, distributed a paper showing what has happened to tax bills since the county passed a tax rate of $2.97 per $100 of evaluation in 1999.
According to the information she found the taxes to the nearest dollar on a home that was assessed at $171,700 in 2004 and is now assessed at $21,400, was $1,275 in 2004 and will be $1,178 this year.
Adkins said she looked up the actual evaluations and multiplied by tax rates for actual taxes on 24 houses in 24 neighborhoods around the county, with current assessments ranging from $134,700 to $392,600. In all but three cases the actual taxes went down, not up.
She said she thinks the reason for this is that tax neutrality not only considers changing evaluation, but also growth, since being tax neutral means the total amount the county collects remains the same regardless of changes.
The population of Wilson County in the 2000 census was 88,809. The Census Bureau now estimates Wilson County population at 104,035. That is 15,226 more people or an increase of slightly more than 17 percent.
The 2000 census also showed Wilson County having 34,921 households, but now the census office estimates 41,493 households or an increase of about 19 percent. Essentially, that means if a new subdivision is built everyone in the county pays a lower share of the total tax. The board also added CareHere health care services for part-time employees to the needs assessment on the budget.
The board also had Judge John Wootten administer the oath of office to the newly elected board members, Don Weathers, Greg Lasater and Adkins. Weathers and Lasater recently won re-election to the board.
The board greeted and introduced the new student members of the board, Ashley Borcherding from Watertown High School, Krishna Patel from Wilson Central High, Janie Crick from Mt Juliet High, and Caroline Robinson from Lebanon High.
Although field trips have been temporarily suspended pending the county commission approving the school budget, the board passed a consent agenda which included three trips involving students.
Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.