Note: This story was last updated at 10:10 a.m. Nov. 3.
School board candidates at two forums this campaign season expressed optimism that school officials will be able to continue to provide school bus transportation to most students in the next school year, and several said they would support a property tax rate increase if it were deemed necessary.
Bob Eby, Oak Ridge Board of Education vice chair, cited delayed staff raises and textbook purchases as well as capital project needs. Eby helped lead moves this summer to restore bus transportation to preschool students and then other students after the area where bus service is not provided was temporarily expanded to 1.5 miles as part of cost-cutting measures in June.
In August, Karen Gagliano, Oak Ridge Schools director of business and support services, said the $500,000 in fund balance money used to restore transportation and the delayed purchase of textbooks, among other things, means the school system could start the Fiscal Year 2015 budget discussions with a $1.8 million deficit, before anything new is added.
“I will ask for a tax increase next year,” Eby said. “We’ve put (off) all we can put off.” [Read more…]