The Oak Ridge Board of Education approved a budget on Wednesday that includes 3 percent salary increases and a request for an additional $538,048 from the city. That’s a 3.6 percent increase in city funding.
The budget was approved unanimously in the first of two readings this month. The second and final reading is at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 23.
As approved in the first reading during a 15-minute meeting Wednesday, the budget includes the reduction of the full-time equivalent of four teachers and an increase in five technology positions. It includes experience-based pay increases known as step increases for staff. And it includes money to fund a 6.2 percent increase in health insurance rates and another 10 percent for dental insurance.
The teacher reductions would be based on enrollment and student course selections. The cuts would affect the full-time equivalent of two current staff members. Two cuts would be by attrition, and the other two cuts would affect art and business teachers at Oak Ridge High School.
The increase in technology positions would support technology initiatives.
Besides the five technology positions, there would also be the addition of two full-time equivalent middle school assistant football coaching supplements.
The budget would use roughly $1.27 million from the fund balance. Here are the expenses funded with the fund balance:
- Debt service—$425,000
- Site development-equipment—$25,000
- Capital outlay-building improvement—$186,000
- Capital outlay-engineering—$10,000
- Capital outlay-consultants—$5,000
- District potential IRS liability—$100,000
- Instructional equipment-furniture—$65,000
- Grand total: $1,266,500
To balance the budget, the school system has proposed:
- Fiscal year 2017 proposed budget deficit—(-$1,804,548)
- Use of district fund balance—(+$1,266,500)
- That leaves a total request to the Oak Ridge City Council of $538,048.
It’s not clear if the City Council will agree to provide the additional funding.
The schools had a 3 percent salary adjustment in Fiscal Year 2016 (the current fiscal year), and no raises in FY 15 and FY 14. There was a 2.5 percent increase in FY 13, a 1.6 percent raise in FY 12, no increase in FY 11 and FY 09, and a 1.5 percent raise in FY 10.
School officials said they needed, based upon the revenue and expense assumptions, roughly $1.8 million to support the budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which starts July 1. That includes the starting deficit that has been offset with the staff reductions, along with the addition of technology support staff and a 3 percent salary increase.
Here is the breakdown of what Oak Ridge Schools called new investments:
Salary (Includes salary and benefits)
- Experience step—$373,197
- Adjustment of 3 percent—$1,103,706
- Total: $1,476,903
New Staffing (Includes salary and benefits)
- Repair technician for devices
- Tier II technician—ORHS
- Tier I technician—ORHS
- Two tier I technicians—Robertsville and Jefferson middle schools
- Federal projects staffing now paid from the general fund
- Total: $427,998
Grand total: $1,904,901
A budget presentation released earlier this month said Oak Ridge ranks 27th out of 142 Tennessee school districts for its beginning teacher compensation. The school system 15th in Fiscal Year 2014. Oak Ridge currently has six more school days than the other state systems, the presentation said.
Oak Ridge ranks 13th out of 142 school districts for average administrator compensation, according to 2014-2015 data.
The city’s schools continue to have a higher-than-average percentage of advanced placement scores of three or higher, compared to state and global averages, the presentation said.
And, “Oak Ridge High School students consistently outperform the state and national averages on the ACT college entrance examination,” the presentation said.
The school board had a work session and line-by-line budget review in the past week. The public hearing was Wednesday.
You can see the budget highlights here: Fiscal Year 2017_Proposed_Budget.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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