By Knox County Schools
As the Knox County Schools prepares for another successful school year, at this mid-point in summer, an update on three important items might be helpful to the families of the Knox County Schools.
There has been much conversation about the school calendar, particularly the possibility of moving to a balanced calendar. One of the greatest potential benefits of a balanced calendar centers around opportunities to intervene for students who are struggling and provide enriching extended learning opportunities for those who are not. Unfortunately, one of the greatest potential drawbacks of this model is the significant cost associated with these educational opportunities.
Although a balanced calendar would likely be helpful to the students in the Knox County Schools, the budget realities in which the school district is currently operating and the unlikely chance that the fundamentally limited revenue structure will improve in the near future (see below) make a balanced calendar impractical at this point. Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre recommended to the Board of Education that the school district apply fiscal resources toward other important educational priorities, such as teacher compensation and personalized learning, and not adopt a balanced calendar in the near future.
Instead of a balanced calendar, the Superintendent recommended that the school system approve a traditional calendar with a week-long fall break for 2017-2018, similar to the 2016-2017 calendar. This calendar model satisfies the interest in including more significant breaks during the academic year, without adding additional cost. At its July 1 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously approved that calendar for 2017-2018.
With the approval of the 2017-2018 calendar, academic calendars for the next three years now are set. This school year, teachers return to their buildings on August 3, 2015, and the first day of school for students is August 10, 2015, which is a half day. Fall break in 2015 will be two days, October 12-13. A link to the three calendars is posted on the front page of knoxschools.org.
Both the Knox County Commission and the Knox County Board of Education approved the school system’s General School Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16). The budget totals $438 million and provides for a 2 percent raise for teachers as well as the payout of APEX strategic compensation bonuses. The bodies also approved an Intragovernmental Memorandum of Understanding that provides for the construction of two new middle schools. For more information on the FY16 budget, please visit knoxschools.org.
Athletic Ticket Pricing
At its July 1 meeting, the Board of Education voted to allow the increase of athletics ticket prices by a maximum of $2.00 for football and $1.00 for all other athletic events at middle and high schools.
Money collected from the sales of tickets for athletic events stays at individual schools to be put back into the athletics programs and is used for transportation, facilities’ upkeep, insurance, athletic equipment (helmets, uniforms, etc.), and other items relating to athletics. The increases in ticket prices will help ensure middle and high school athletes have safe, updated equipment and facilities and will help the athletics programs keep up with the significantly and rapidly rising costs of managing athletics. Details about costs of athletics programs are available on the agenda from the July 1 Board of Education meeting, which can be accessed at knoxschools.org.
The principal and athletic director at each school will determine whether to apply the price increases at their respective schools, and the Knox County Board of Education along with Superintendent McIntyre have encouraged each school to work to lessen the potential financial burden on families due to the increases by considering creative pricing options, such as family and student discounts, season pass pricing or pre-event purchasing discounts.