Tag Archives: Roane County School Board

Path Forward for Education

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

As most everyone knows, the Roane County Commission in mid- February voted against funding the current school improvement plan. The vote for was two (2) for, eleven (11) against, with two passing. Now the question is, are we back to the drawing board? The Roane County School Board and the Commission met in a work session the end of February to discuss the issues of why there is limited support. My observation from the meeting focused on a few broad issues of why there is limited support:

1) Optimal Location
Importance of Community Schools
3) Increase Taxes
4) New Commissioners who have limited knowledge of the proposal plan

So where are we going? My office informed the school board of what we would propose as a path forward for the 2020 budget. First, a three (3) cent property tax is required for the Oliver Springs/ Midway project which has already been approved. I will propose to the Budget Committee an additional seven (7) cents in order to accumulate funds for debt service in order to help cash flow interest and principal payments. Since the school board is anticipating a successful financial year, I would recommend the school board transfer funds to their capital project fund to pay for some initial expenditures.

If approved, the County Commission shows a good faith effort to improve education. The school board shows support by putting their own investment into the capital project. We recognize that the ten (10) cent total is not enough and we would give options to the commissioners to increase their investment if they feel they have the support. Remember, the 2019 Budget gave the commissioners the opportunity to adjust the taxes if they supported the education improvement plan and no none made a motion to increase the funding.  This year a step in the right direction is being proposed by the Roane County’s Executive Office.

The math problem is simple. Currently, the 74 million dollar project has an estimated annual payment of 4.5 million dollars which requires approximately thirty-six (36) cents of property tax. The county has no current funds available to apply to the annual payment. A ten cent tax starts the accumulation of 1.3 million dollars of funds. In two years, approximately 2 million dollars of old debt will be paid off, and the current tax rate could be applied to the annual payment. The ten (10) cents plus the debt that pays off (sixteen (16) cents) is not enough for the present project, but the combined funds is a step in the right direction. Also, going forward we anticipate the successful rebuild of Oliver Springs High School. The small steps of success should help meet the educational needs of our students. We will wait and see what is approved for the 2020 budget.