The Oak Ridge Board of Education in two separate meetings on Monday quickly approved a budget amendment that accepts an extra $250,000 from the city, avoiding a potential loss of millions of dollars in state funding and averting an Oct. 1 school shutdown.
The additional funding had been requested by the school board, and it was approved by the Oak Ridge City Council in a 4-1-1 vote during a special meeting last week. After the council approved the extra money, the school board then had to amend its budget in two separate votes, or readings. Education officials are now expected to send the amended school system budget to state officials by Sept. 30.
Education officials had said they learned in August that the Oak Ridge school system had failed a two-tier maintenance of effort test that requires local revenues to remain at least the same from year to year. They had whittled the budget shortfall down to $250,000 and asked city officials to make up the difference in order to avoid a potential loss of $1.87 million per month in state funding and avert an Oct. 1 shutdown.
“That was not fabrication,” Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer said during a 10-minute special meeting Monday. “We did not make that up.”
The school board approved the budget amendments unanimously in two votes Monday, one during the special meeting and the second during a regular meeting that followed it.
“I’m glad that this issue has been resolved, and we can move forward,” Fillauer said.
City and school officials are now expected to try to resolve a dispute over high school debt payments that school officials say was at the heart of the $250,000 shortfall. That dispute centers on how to spend new revenues collected in Anderson County, but outside Oak Ridge, under a 2006 sales tax referendum.