LWV offers insights into Knox Schools financing, budgeting

Sandra ClarkKnox Scene

Many of us are passionate about public education, yet few of us really understand how the Knox County Schools budget works. Because funding is key to providing quality education and services for all students, the League of Women Voters is hosting a Citizen Academy on Public School Finance and Budgeting.


The academy will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, in the new educational wing of First Presbyterian Church, 620 State St. Breakfast and networking begin at 8 a.m.; the program begins at 9 a.m.

Courtney Shea, one of the organizers of the Citizen Academy and a presenter at the event (KnoxTNToday file photo)

Citizen Academy is open to all residents of Knox County. No previous knowledge of school finance is required. This will be an informal event that is welcoming of any age or organization, and particularly welcoming of rising leaders.

Courtney Shea of the LWV describes the day: “Following a light breakfast, you’ll learn the basics of school budgeting from the experts – the finance directors of both Knox County Schools and Knox County government. We’ll take a break and dive into our state funding formula – the BEP. After lunch and conversation, you’ll have a choice of classes that walk you through topics such as: Budgets for Buildings; Communicating with School Board and Commission; and How To Win at Organizing. Our final session is a community conversation on growing the KCS budget.”

Registration is limited to the first 75 participants, so register early. A fee of $10 covers all workshops, a light breakfast, coffee and snacks and a sandwich lunch. Scholarships are available upon request. There is free parking all day under the building. Register online or on the League of Women Voters’ Facebook page. For questions or childcare availability, contact Jamey Dobbs, chair of the LWV’s Citizen Academy committee.

SCHEDULE

8-9 – Doors open, continental breakfast, networking, visit organization tables

9-9:15 – Welcome from Linda McCabe, League of Women Voters president, and KCS school board chair Terry Hill

9:15-9:45 – Government Authority for Schools and Funding: Jennifer Owen, District 2, Knox County Board of Education. Owen will describe state of Tennessee authority for public schools, responsibilities and rights of local boards of education, why funding authority for KCS resides with County Commission, not the local board of education, and role of the federal government.

9:45-10:30 – Knox County Schools Budgeting 101: Joe Snyder, Knox County Schools finance director. Snyder will describe the budget schedule, the requirements for how money must be used/spent, budget categories and how Knox County Schools spending compares with other districts. Q&A.

10:30-11:15 – County Funding for Schools: Chris Caldwell, Knox County finance director. Caldwell will address how much local money supports our schools, where it comes from and how school funding has changed over the years. He will also discuss the prospects for future county tax revenue and how it might affect school funding. Q&A.

11:15-11:45 – State funding and the Basic Education Program (BEP): Lance McCold, LWV Education Committee chair. McCold will give a brief introduction to the BEP and report on the school costs that it does not support.

11:45-12:30 – Lunch and conversation

12:30-1:30 – Small class options (choose one):

  1. Communicating with Commission: presented by former county commissioners Rep. Dave Wright, Bob Thomas, Mark Harmon
  2. Budgets for Buildings: The KCS Capital Plan, presented by Russ Oaks, KCS chief operating officer
  3. Lessons in Organizing: Community Campaign Against Privatization at UTK, presented by Dr. Jon Shefner, UTK Department of Sociology

1:30-2:30 Small class options (choose one):

  1. Communicating with school board, presented by former school board chair Lynne Fugate
  2. The Strategic Plan and the Budget: Meeting the Needs of Every Student, presented by Courtney Shea and Shay Boswell, Knox County Strategic Plan Coalition
  3. Lessons in Organizing: Community Campaign to Stop School Custodian Outsourcing, presented by Brad Rayson, president, SEIU Local 205

2:30-3:45 Growing the Budget: Community Conversation and Brainstorming Session, facilitated by the League of Women Voters

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