We know this argument. We see it every year.
Schools only have to worry about schools. But then, it’s not just schools. It’s kids, and education. The future. And in this story, teacher raises so that the county – which includes a not-insignificant urban area in Knoxville – can compete with other, much smaller, more suburban/rural school systems around here. It’s not exactly apples and oranges, but it’s not exactly apples and iPods, either.
The county, meanwhile, must think of schools along with road potholes, the elderly, poor, indigent, crime/jails and all that other stuff that doesn’t get regular headlines because they just aren’t as interesting, as often, as schools. Want to feel invested in the community quickly? Buy some land or have a kid. Also, most of those other county functions don’t demand a majority of local money and attention. Nor do they have a separate elected body to oversee operations.
Still, it’ll be county commission that will decide how much money the schools receive. They ultimately approve the budget, a policy document from a county mayor who won’t raise taxes, no-way-no-how.
All that, and the funding for raises was dropped from the state budget and the sales taxes around here are lagging. They say that it’s a hard job, but it’s not like anyone forced these folks to run for office. (Oh yeah, there’s an election on.) Here’s some stuff that couldn’t make it into todays commission story on school funding and raises. The interviews were conducted before the state announcement of no money for raises, but the comments still hold up. My thinking is that $13-ish million increase that’s been discussed lately may not be totally reflected in the 2014-15 county budget.
Dave Wright was not conclusive on teacher raises, saying he wanted to see what the superintendent comes with first, but he’s been vocal for some time about putting a Gibbs Middle School in the budget. That would mean adding more staff, teachers and so on to run a new school.
Amy Broyles – who is recovering from surgery at home – said “generally I am supportive of increasing teacher salaries,” but otherwise hasn’t seen Jim McIntyre’s budget proposal.
Ed Shouse said similar things. He supports teacher salary increases, in theory, but the money has to be there. “The pie is just very limited.”
And if you’re in the clicking mood, Donila had some more analysis over at the porch.