A first draft of the Tullahoma City Schools budget for the upcoming fiscal year sees more than $750,000 coming out of the school’s reserve funds in order to cover costs, according to TCS Business Director Mike Roggli.
Roggli presented his draft budget to the school board during a study session Monday, June 4, highlighting the changes to be expected from last year’s budget.
Overall, he said, the district’s expenses have increased marginally and its revenues have decreased, leaving a budget shortfall of around $789,000.
However, he said, this budget proposal was only meant to be a first draft and could be tweaked in any way the board sees fit.
Included in the budget
Three items in Roggli’s budget proposal were board member priorities, including two different raises and funding for a new position at Tullahoma High School (THS).
The raises proposed were a 1.5-percent step raise for eligible certified employees and a general 2-percent raise meant to boost the starting pay for all employees.
The raises are intended to help TCS become and stay competitive in the entry-level market for teaching positions, which was a priority for board member Teresa Lawson. In several previous study sessions, Lawson mentioned repeatedly that she would like to see the district reward its “excellent” teachers for all their hard work in the form of a raise.
The new THS position funded in the budget is to be an interventionist tasked with assisting high school students at risk of falling behind and potentially dropping out. The position would take the place of the originally proposed THS Transition Academy, which the board scrapped due to financial limitations.
Not included in the budget
Due to the nature of the budget proposal, Roggli said some board priorities were left out of the first draft.
For instance, the addition of new full-time art and music teachers for the elementary schools was not included.
Currently the district has only one art teacher and one music teacher for two different schools. The teachers split their time between two elementary schools, which can be burdensome on the teachers.
This double duty arrangement cost the district an art teacher as recently as December. Andrea Wetzel, who was the art instructor for both East Lincoln and Robert E. Lee elementary schools, resigned from the district in order to take a position is a school district where she would work in only one school.
A large portion of the funds that would be pulled from reserves – $789,052 – is targeted toward the two raises and the THS position.
The proposed 1.5-percent step raise would add about $200,000 more to the expenses of the district, according to Roggli, and the general raise of 2 percent carries a price tag of about $400,000.
The interventionist at THS will carry a price tag of about $70,000, including salary and benefits.
Payments the district makes to its noncertified retirement plan are another factor in the large pull from reserves. On average, the district pays a flat $1 million to its retirement plan, overpaying by an approximate $350,000.
If the district reduces its payment to the retirement plan to the minimum required payment – estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $650,000 – it would free up an additional $350,000 to either put toward the shortfall or cover the costs of the elementary art and music teachers.
No decisions were made in this study session. Another budget study session has been planned for next Monday night.
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.