THE HUNTER REPORT
Mr. Truitt resides in the 5th District. He regularly attends commission workshops and commission meetings. Additionally, he also attends school workshop meetings, school budget and monthly school board meetings. He addressed Loudon County Commission at the April 5, 2010 meeting. Mr. Truitt expressed his opinion about the proposed FY 10-11 $1.2 Million school budget (reoccurring operating school budget for the Loudon County Board of Education). State law requires that local education school systems receive the same level of funding as last year's budget, a school system may not receive less. This is called the Maintenance of Effort. The value of pennies may change in a proposed budget but the overall dollar amount may not be less than the previous year. (THEHUNTERREPORT.COM does not exercise any editorial control over the information, views or positions that you may find in Guest Editorials or web links contained herein).
Comments to County Commission
By: Richard Truitt
My name is Richard Truitt. I would like to speak on the school budget. This country is in the greatest recession since the great depression. Nearly 9 million people have lost their jobs. 15 million people are without a job. 5.6 million homes are 3 months or more delinquent in their payments. Many are headed for foreclosure. Loudon County has had their share of foreclosures. Itís my understanding that Loudon County is experiencing several foreclosures each day. Social Security recipients wonít receive a raise for at least two years. Loudon Countyís unemployment rate is 10.3%. Unemployment in January 2007 was 1,000. March 2008, 1,200. January 2009, 1,900. January 2010, 2,320. In this time period, thatís an increase of 1,320. The schools employee 650 people. This is double their total employment. Not one county employee, to my knowledge, has lost their job. People have to pay the property tax whether they have a job or not. We hear this constant cry for raises. I attended all the budget committee meetings. Their main concerns were teacher raises and salary adjustments for central office personnel who now make between $60,000 and $72,000 per year. The main concern of the school board, in my opinion, should be the students, not raises. The property tax is one of the few taxes that is eventually 100% collectable and is stable. The people of Loudon County have to pay these taxes. 54% of the people who have children in Loudon County schools are free or reduced lunches. These are the people expected to pay these taxes. One school board member has repeatedly stated Loudon County is a rich county and chooses not to put their money in education. Are these the rich people heís talking about? The average teacher salary is $42,000. The average salary in Loudon County is $32,000. Itís my understanding half of the employees in the school system donít live in Loudon County. Maybe this is their concern only for raises. The school board came up with a budget 1.1 million in the red. No real effort was made to balance the budget. As normal, they passed the buck to commission. The school board has said without these raises the schools wonít be able to move forward. If these raises donít happen, the schools will go into decline. Oak Ridge teachers didnít receive a raise three years ago. The last two years, the teachers havenít requested a raise. This year, Oak Ridge had three students score a perfect score of 36 on the ACT. 63% of their students scored 21 or more and qualified for the Hope scholarship. You would think Oak Ridge would be in total decline, according to Loudon County School Boardís theory. Let me ask this question. Where is the merit for these raises. What is the qualification. Just being on the payroll? The school board thinks theyíve created a juggernaut that would be destroyed if these people arenít given a raise. What the school board has is a lack of leadership. They tell everyone what they want to hear and yearly pass the buck to commission. You need to tell the school board to balance their budget with the funds that was provided. You donít fund their raises. Itís up to them to do that from the money that is provided. Itís difficult when they consider every line item a sacred cow.
The teachers will get a 3% bonus from the state. They think this doesnít count because itís not reoccurring. However, Iím sure theyíll accept the money. They get a step raise, then a 2% raise. All this while the country and Loudon County is bleeding. You would think these people would have a disconnect with reality.
Itís not the commissionís responsibility to fund school board raises. The schools have a budget. They can go back, adjust their budget if they desire, and give their employees a raise. What they lack is any kind of discipline.