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Johnson County School Board takes issue with county on budget cut

Johnson County Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox accepts an award for Superintendent of the Year for the region.

By Rebecca Herman

Thursday’s school board meeting began with the recognition of Superintendent Dr. Mischelle Simcox, who was chosen by her peers, as the Superintendent of the Year for the region. She is now a finalist for Superintendent of the Year for the state of Tennessee, which will be announced in September.
The school board then recognized six teachers who were granted tenure: Faye Baker, Rachel Osborne, Alicia Bauguess, Sonya Hammons, Miranda Horne, and Brian Taylor.
Dr. Simcox sent her condolences to the family of Coach Harold Arnold. “The school system owes him a gratitude of debt…he was a great educator and coach.”
Board Chairman Kevin Long read a letter from the board that addressed a change to the 2017-2018 General Purpose Schools Budget due to a decrease in revenue from the county. Dr. Simcox said that due to the decrease, the money would have to be pulled from “carry over dollars.”
Long explained, “On June 14th, we were satisfied with the letter from Mr. Russell Robinson outlining the school system’s budget allocation figures for the 2017-2018 school year. In the very same letter, Mr. Robinson wrote – and I quote: ‘These allocations should be used in your budget preparation for the upcoming fiscal year.’ I can tell you right now that is exactly what the school did.”
“The school system prepared their budget and then a short time later the system had the proverbial rug pulled out from under us. Mr. Robinson’s figures were no longer good. We were told Mr. Robinson’s figures were now being cut by $28,756,” explained Long.
Long went on to explain that this amount of money does not seem like much when you are dealing with millions of dollars in order to run a school system, but if you consider what $28,000 can buy then you can see what students would be missing. “Twenty-eight thousand dollars buys a lot of textbooks. Twenty-eight thousand dollars buys a lot of computers. Twenty-eight thousand dollars goes a long way toward paying one of our many outstanding teachers.” Long emphasized, “Let me be clear: Twenty-eight thousand dollars goes a long way toward helping educate the children of this county.”
Long explained that the school board has sent all the information concerning the issue to the school system’s attorney in order to see if this decrease “presents a maintenance of effort issue…but it is certainly my hope that we never end up taking a route toward the courthouse…it is my hope that the County Commission will also listen to our concerns, and that they will simply give back to Johnson County Schools money Mr. Robinson already promised us.”
“What attracts businesses and people? Schools,” said board member Howard Carlton. Carlton went on to explain, “We continue to provide top notch programs and education compared to other counties…it seems a little short sighted to do anything to the school system when you look at the progress that we are making and it’s pretty amazing that you [teachers and administrators] are able to stay under budget with the money that’s been given.”
School Board Vice Chairman Kenneth Gregg also spoke and explained that this cut also comes after the school system “has already had $110,000 cut from federal money.” Gregg also expressed that the teachers and administrators are “good stewards of the money that is given to you and we have a better community because of the work you do.”
Long encouraged teachers and parents to attend the next county commissioners meeting to voice concerns about this unexpected decrease to the budget.
The next school board meeting will take place on August 10 at 6pm.