By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,
“Healthy living” is the focus for this month, and I’m pleased to report that the Knox County Schools works very hard to use our taxpayer resources wisely in helping to ensure a safe, healthy and inviting learning environment for students across the district.
The educational investments we have made the past few years to facilitate instructional improvement are paying clear dividends for our students and community. By virtually every quantifiable indicator of student learning and success, our children are making strong academic progress in the Knox County Schools. Student achievement outcomes on TCAP assessments, student academic growth, high school graduation rates, and our composite ACT score have all shown positive results in 2011-2012.
In order to build on the strong foundation of student academic progress that we have experienced, I am requesting a preliminary recommended budget of $419.75 million, which represents a total increase of $13.27 million (3.3%) over the current fiscal year 2013 budget.
This budget recommendation provides for additional, targeted investment in four key priority areas:
- Enhancing educator compensation (“teachers”) – In order for our school system to become more competitive in retaining and attracting top teaching talent, we must make progress in increasing our base salary for educators, while simultaneously ensuring the sustainability of our strategic compensation system, APEX. The budget proposal includes a combined pay increase of 2.5% for teachers and $1.27 million to support APEX.
- Sustaining instructional improvement initiatives (“teaching”) – Sustaining our important classroom-level investments that are helping to fuel our strong academic progress. We must continue to support initiatives such as our early literacy efforts, teacher supports, professional development, teacher leadership, magnet and community schools, interventions and tutorial services, and academic enrichment for our students.
- Facilitating personalized learning supported by technology (“technology”) – Instructional technology can allow teachers to better personalize and differentiate their instruction, and enables educators to continuously and seamlessly adapt their teaching to meet the unique needs of their students. We seek the resources to begin a 1:1 technology effort (one technology device for each one student, and each one teacher) at nine or ten schools across our school system.
- Bolstering student safety efforts (“safety”) – As we collectively seek to respond to heightened expectations for school security that have emerged after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I have publicly called for us to implement a foundational level of school security resources at every school, including a current-generation video camera system, a school access control strategy, and an armed, uniformed School Resource Officer or School Security Officer at each of our schools.
I believe the FY14 preliminary budget recommendation strikes the appropriate balance of increasing our resources to allow us to maintain and enhance the important work of instructional improvement, while also recognizing the limited funds that are available within current fiscal constraints.
Our Board of Education will vote on the proposed FY14 budget on Tuesday, April 9 at its Regular Session meeting held at the City-County Building at 5 p.m. Once approved, the proposal will be presented by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to the Knox County Commission for appropriation in May.
Additional information and details regarding our upcoming budget can be found on our website at knoxschools.org. Please do not hesitate to call us at (865) 594-1800 if we can answer questions regarding the budget or be of any assistance to you.
Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools