BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Sullivan County Board of Education approved a resolution by the county commission to restore state funding of the school system.
The BOE gave unanimous approval Thursday night.
“We appreciate the commission and the action that they took. We think that that will solve the issue,” said Sullivan Co. BOE chairman Michael Hughes.
The resolution passed by the county commission Wednesday night appropriated $800,000 to the school system.
The measure was passed after state officials said the county’s school budget didn’t meet minimum funding requirements and warned that federal funding would be withheld if the issue wasn’t resolved.
Some questioned why school leaders didn’t just tap into millions of dollars in their reserve account.
The board chairman called that irrelevant.
“There was no connection, it wouldn’t have mattered if we had a billion dollars, the law still says ‘you don’t meet maintenance of effort. You don’t take money out of reserves to meet maintenance of efforts,” said Hughes.
The BOE will forward the new budget to the state tomorrow. It’s expected that state funding will resume once accepted in Nashville.
With the Maintenance of Efforts issue resolved- the board voted to make good on a promised two percent pay raise for school employees. This comes from moving money between line items.
“We hadn’t been able to do that because we had this budget question,” said Hughes.
School board member Matthew Spivey says teacher pay should be high on everyone’s priority list.
“Sullivan county teachers need to be paid as well as Bristol and Kingsport city. We’re all in the same county, but the sad reality is the only way we can do that is if we have the revenues in our budgets,” said Spivey.
That new budget change will go to the county commission at their next meeting, October 17th. Hughes says if approved by the commission, employees should see that increase and retroactive pay on their November paychecks.