The Warren County Board of Education has readjusted its sights after a vote of county commissioners showed little support for 19 cents.
“We’re going to ask for 9 cents,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox to the Board of Education on the heels of the Warren County Commission rejecting, in a non-binding vote of 19-5, a request from the school system for an additional 19 cents in property taxes for various educational needs. “That would amount to $590,406, the entire amount which will be used to offset insurance costs for school employees.”
Cox said the 7.1 percent increase in health insurance costs would hurt many school system employees financially and the 9-cent increase would help cushion the blow for teachers and support staff.
The 19-cent increase would have included the insurance offset, $250,000 for a new chiller for the high school, $40,000 apiece for the four school upgrade projects under consideration, and $250,000 for work on the pedestrian bridges at WCMS.
All but the health insurance increase have been removed in the new request for 9 cents with Cox planning to talk to the County Commission separately about helping with the school’s four maintenance projects. Those projects would cost about $1.5 million per year and would include maintenance to West, Bobby Ray, Eastside and WCMS. Cox noted Warren County will have over $8 million in reserve after this year’s budget and is in hopes commissioners will see their way into helping fund the maintenance projects.
“The maintenance projects would happen much faster with the county’s help rather than us taking it out of our funds,” said Cox, noting the total cost of the maintenance projects will likely be no more than $3.5 million.
As for helping teachers by absorbing much of the insurance increase, members of the School Board say it is the right thing to do.
“Teachers already pay an average of $455 a year out of their own pockets for school supplies,” said School Board member Teddy Jones. “If my boss asked me to pay for my own copy paper, I’d tell him he was crazy but the teachers do it to help their students.”
Cox will speak to the county Education Committee about the school system’s new request. County Commissioner Carlene Brown was on hand for the meeting and pointed out the commission is still trying to pull together its budget, adding she supports the School Board’s intentions.