The unified school board passed a $1.18 billion school budget Thursday afternoon. Seventeen board members voted for the passage of the budget.
There were three no votes cast.
The meeting started off with some good news from Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson. The State of Tennessee will be sending the district nearly $5 million more than was originally expected. The $5 million brought the budget gap down to $30 million.
Administrators also adjusted some funding to save some Pre-K classrooms. There will be a total of 172 Pre-K classes throughout the district. The move came with a cost as the district will cut some teacher performance coaching programs in at-risk schools.
This budget passed with a big majority, but many of the board members who supported it, still aren't happy with the level of cuts.
"We have bludgeoned the school district, particularly the legacy Shelby County schools, from the teachers to AP's, guidance counselors, to plant managers," said school board member David Reaves. "It's one of the worst things I've ever seen."
"I implore you to please start leading this district and stop waiting on the staff," added school board member Tomeka Hart. "You are, we are supposed to be leading, we have not provided any strategic planning. We have not as a board spoken about priorities. We have done that individually and so that's why everybody's trying to save their pet projects up here."
This budget is roughly $74 million less than the budgets for the two school systems. Many are losing their jobs to pay for that reduction. For example, schools will have to share building engineers.
The budget moves to the Shelby County Commission next week.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell outlined on Wednesday a plan to overcome some of the budget gap with a property tax increase. Superintendent Hopson says the board could pay for the rest of the gap by dipping into the district's more than $40 million fund balance.
MORE: 4 of 23 board members show up at budget Q&A: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22264601/4-of-23-unified-board-members-show-up-at-budget-qa
MORE: Shelby County Schools proposed budget: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22238786/shelby-county-schools-proposed-budget
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