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County budget guidelines set, talk of growth in schools

 Mayor Rogers Anderson announced budget guidelines for the 2014-15 fiscal year at the County Commission Budget Committee meeting Monday afternoon.

Anderson recommended no salary increases [although the mayor initiated a 2 percent salary increase for all county employees during the last fiscal year], no new hires and a zero percent increase in operating budgets for all departments including nonprofits. He added that no new funding requests will be considered and all departmental capital expenditures would be held to zero.
Last spring Anderson emphasized during community talks that Williamson County had not had a tax increase in 20 years. 
Anderson’s recommendations will maintain the current property tax rate.
However, Williamson County Schools is an exception because new teachers might be required as the district continues to grow. State law mandates specific student/teacher ratios for different grade levels.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney announced that the district has already used the additional 12 teacher positions approved by the county commission during budget rounds last spring. 
Looney said that the district would consider requesting a waiver of class size from TDOE Commissioner Kevin Huffman before approaching the county commission for more funds to hire new teachers. 
With about 1,150 new students this school year – a number higher than anticipated with increased enrollment especially during second semester – even more new teachers could be a necessity.
During the spring budgeting process, Looney forewarned the county commission that he believed the district’s growth projection of about 2.73 percent to be “too conservative” – a prediction that seems to be coming to fruition. The district averages about 1,000 new students each school year. The current student population crept to about 34,000 this year.

Posted on: 2/6/2014


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