By Meg Dickens
Funding for the Johnson County School System took center stage at the Thursday, June 11 school board meeting. Johnson County School Board members were concerned over what effect decreased funding would have on its recent decision to give county school faculty and staff a raise. Changes in state funding prompted the discussion and the possible BEP (Basic Education Program) decrease that could have dire consequences.
A struggle with funding, in general, is already an issue, and according to Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, BEP funding currently leaves approximately 70 employees in this area not covered. Despite this, the Johnson County School Board found enough funding to approve a small boost in pay for certified and noncertified employees in a previous meeting. Non-certified employees would receive a three percent raise, and those certified one percent with the government boosting that to match the three percent.&
According to Chairman Howard Carlton, losing the BEP funding will leave an approximately $227,000 gap. Carlton also pointed out that they have already made the commitment to use these funds for raises and cannot back out at this point.
“Do our legislators know how many shortfalls we’re going to have?” Board Member Gary Matheson asked during the discussion.
Simcox assured Matheson and the Board that legislators are aware of the numbers. Simcox reportedly sent a plea to Senator Jon Lundberg and State Representative Timothy Hill explaining just how much the county would fall short if the Governor’s Office follows through with its plan to remove two percent of BEP funding. Simcox assured the Board that Directors of Schools across the state are taking the same steps.
The final decision on whether the Governor’s Office will pull the funding will be made before the end of June. The school system will submit its budget to the County Commission on June 29. Other funding issues, such as whether Johnson County Schools will get approval for the same amount of SROs (Student Resource Officers) without Shady Valley Elementary, are still in the works.
The Johnson County School Board meets the second Thursday of each month at Central Office. Because of COVID-19, meetings are not open to the public but are live-streamed online on Johnson County’s Youtube channel, Johnson County Schools TN Video.