Bradley County School Board Cuts 5 Teaching Positions, Establishes Capital Projects Fund

Thursday, June 05, 2014
Audience watches crucial school board vote
Audience watches crucial school board vote
- photo by Tony Eubank

The Bradley County Board voted Wednesday to approve a modified budget that includes a capital projects fund and the elimination of five teaching positions.

The meeting began with a plea for civility from Board Chair Vicki Beaty, saying that she encourages discussion and questioning as long the board and those in attendance conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.  

The board quickly approved the central cafeteria budget and moved on to review the general purpose budget.

Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel informed the board that he was present for their approval of the same budget that had as yet to pass. Board member Troy Weathers quickly made a motion to approve the budget as is. After a second from board member Christy Critchfield, more discussion over the particulars of the budget began.

Board member Chris Turner asked Bradley schools’ business manager Rick Smith to explain the change in the amount of equity in the budget. Mr. Smith explained that equity, as it applies to a school budget, is the projected reserve, or surplus from a given year’s budget. He said that officials try to estimate incoming tax revenue as conservatively as possible, as they are susceptible to economic change, especially sales tax.  

He also said that when planning a budget they try to hold the line as far as spending goes. He said, “If I budget a one percent growth and we have a four percent growth, that’s $300,000 better than budget. That’s how your equity account contracts and expands.”

Mr. Turner asked, “So we have budgeted to spend $1,400,000 more than we take in?” Mr. Smith responded that the previous year’s equity surplus is counted as part of the current budget’s spending plan and that it is likely that most of it would not be put to use.

Board member Nicholas Lillios interjected, “So, we saved last year and we’re calling it income this year?”

He continued, “We’ve got a situation where revenue is down and expenses are up and that concerns me greatly. That’s not talking about capital or anything else, that’s operating expenses."

"We’ve got a spending problem of $1.6 million dollars,” added Mr. Turner. Director McDaniel told the board that the use of the equity funds is just part of how the school system has always done its budget, and that the extent to which those monies are used always fluctuates.  Mr. Turner responded, “I guess we just have a different definition of what a balanced budget is.”

After some back and forth over the finer details of the budget, Mr. Turner introduced a substitute motion to approve the budget with some modifications that included the elimination of five unfilled positions, and the transfer of the $250,000 that would be used to pay for those jobs into an account  that will be used to pay for long term capital projects.

Mr. Turners proposal also contained a plan to move about $300,000 of the equity fund into the proposed long term capital projects fund. The motion included a request that monthly fiscal reports be prepared for the board. He said, “It is imperative in my opinion that we become very aware and that this board have financial understanding of all expenditures so that as we prepare for next year we have a very firm understanding of where our priorities lie."

Troy Weathers suggested that if the board is going to cut five teaching positions, then the board should first give up its salary. He said, “I will not vote for this if we don’t give up our pay first and any compensation that we get for travel or anything else. If we’re going to eliminate five teaching positions, and that’s what we’re doing, don’t let anyone fool you that’s what’s happening. That’s just truth, we’re not stupid.”

Board Chairman Beatty said, “Mr. Weathers, I’m not debating whether or not school board members should be compensated, but to say that we are eliminating five teaching positions is actually not true. We know that every year that some schools lose teachers and other schools gain teachers. I don’t think that there is a single board member that would vote to eliminate people who have positions currently in this district. I feel that because a resignation, because of BEP requirements, because of retirements, that in this budget we can do it and no one is going to lose their job.”

After a short recess, the board voted 5-2 to approve the altered budget, with Christy Critchfield and Troy Weathers casting the dissenting votes. After the vote, board member Rodney Dillard said, “I want the public to know that I didn’t just vote for eliminating five teachers, I voted for this county to move on. This has been a bunch of garbage we’ve been through.”

Mr. Dillard added that the budget debate has caused a lot of bad feeling and left a lot people concerned as to whether or not a budget would get through and that he voted yes to make sure that the school system’s children and teachers have what they need when school begins.

Board member Weathers said that two months ago he warned that jobs would be cut. He said, “There will be more jobs cut next year; this is just the beginning. More teachers will be going home. If you don’t believe that, just sit around and watch because you may not have believed that you were going to lose five positions, but you lost five today. You lose 10 the next year and 20 the next, but it’s coming.”

Board Chair Beatty said, “If we do not do something that could easily happen. It could happen if we are not conservative and protect the salaries of our teachers and the positions we have. As I said, no job has been eliminated and no one is going to lose their job.”

The board also approved a $1.4 million capital outlay budget.

Bradley County School Board members
Bradley County School Board members
- Photo2 by Tony Eubank

Keith Carter Was Man Shot In Knee On W. 38th Street; Still Won't Cooperate With Police

The man shot at 262 West 38 th St., on Monday afternoon was 22-year-old Keith Carter. He continues to be uncooperative with Investigators. Carter was shot in the knee. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he received treatment for the non-life threatening injury.    Chattanooga Police ask anyone with information regarding this crime to call ... (click for more)

Audio Of County Commission Meeting 7/30/14

Thankful For Senators Alexander And Corker's Support Of The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet

America’s national security at home and abroad is important to all of us.  So it is very important to recognize and thank our leaders when they show strong support for our military. That’s why I am writing to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to our great state, our nation, and especially to our military.  Their support ensures that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)

Recap of 17 Stop, Prep Football Tour

Starting at Soddy Daisy at 7:44 a.m. and leaving Silverdale 14 hours later ( 9:58 p.m.), the fifth annual Chattanoogan.com prep football tour made whistle stops at 17 schools covering 220 miles.   The Chattanooga Jamboree is Aug. 15-16 at Finley Stadium and the season openers are Thurs. Aug. 21   - Cleveland vs. McCallie (Finley Stadium) ... (click for more)

Stars Shutout Lookouts Tuesday, 2-0

Huntsville, AL-Huntsville native Jed Bradley did it all Tuesday night for the Huntsville Stars.  He pitched six shutout innings and also provided the only offense in a 2-0 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts at Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville. Recap Bradley, broke up the scoreless game in the fifth as he was locked up in a terrific pitcher's duel with Chattanooga lefty ... (click for more)