The Wilson County Budget Committee took no action regarding the Wilson County Schools annual needs assessment list Tuesday night, prompting one commissioner to voice concern about school funding.
Tuesday was the last budget meeting before the entire Wilson County Commission votes on the county’s budget in August.
The committee accepted the district’s budget, but took no action on its needs assessment list — 14 items prioritized as “needs” by the district, ranging from salary increases to capital projects.
The committee prepared to adjourn before Commissioner Wendell Marlowe asked if they planned to discuss the needs assessment list.
“I know we gave them the growth money, but they’re taking funds out of their fund balance every year to balance their budget, and they’re going to have needs come up that there is no way we can continue to fund our schools on a status quo budget year after year,” Marlowe said.
Marlowe said growth doesn’t pay for itself, but said he felt commissioners expect growth to pay for the school district every year.
“Sooner or later, it’s going to catch up with us,” he said.
Wilson County Schools Donna Wright noted the district added about 600 students since May 2018.
“That’s an entire elementary school,” Commissioner Lauren Breeze said.
The top prioritized item was a nearly $4 million teacher salary increase aimed at helping fill gaps caused by previous salary increases for teachers. Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto noted the county would need to raise property taxes about 9 cents in order to support that top priority.
The proposed salary increases include: $1,000 for teachers with five or less years of experience; $2,000 for teachers with six to 10 years of experience; $3,000 for teachers with 11 to 15 years or experience; $4,000 for teachers with 16 to 20 years of experience and $5,000 for teachers with 21 or more years of experience.
The committee did accept the district’s annual budget, which includes a proposed change to salaries of certified personnel entering the district. The scaled salary plan details the starting salary for teachers based on their years of experience and if they have an additional degree.
The committee also approved another budget item as a part of the district’s budget for a $3.7 million bond issue with the board supplying the funds from liquor tax proceeds over 20 years to cover athletic facility construction at several high schools.
Those projects include new indoor facilities at Lebanon, Wilson Central and Watertown high schools (similar to the indoor facility at Mt. Juliet High School), track repair and renovations at Mt. Juliet High School and tennis court repairs at all four high schools.
SCHOOLS NEEDS ASSESSMENT
The fiscal year 2019-2020 Wilson County Schools needs assessment list as submitted by the board of education to the county commission.
1. Salary raise for classroom teachers - $3.9 million
2. Insurance transfer to cover opening cost of Gladeville Middle School - $2.1 million
3. District digital transformation - $15 million
4. Coverage of nonrecurring expenses from fund balance - $6.1 million
5. Summer roofing program - $15 million
6. Watertown Middle School renovations ($27.3 million) or new middle school and land ($42 million)
7. Ten new bus routes - $250,000
8. Lakeview Elementary renovations ($16.5 million) or new school and land ($30 million)
9. Land for a new elementary school ($1.7 million) and high school ($5 million)
10. Bus routes ($750,000) and 19 new buses - $2.2 million
11. Green Hill High School fiscal year 2021 costs - $4 million
12. Two elementary schools - $60 million
13. One percent raise for support staff - $270,000
14. District vehicle replacement (non-buses) - $250,000