Elizabethton City School Board proposes budget for upcoming year

Published 4:40 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

The Elizabethton City School Board expects to maintain flat funding in the upcoming budget request, with the only increase relating to school resource officers.

During the school board meeting on Monday, Director Richard VanHuss announced that there will not be much of a demand for an increase in the budget, except for a possible change in funding for school resource officers.

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In a letter addressed to Elizabethton City Manager Daniel Estes, VanHuss wrote, “we are not requesting an increase in our 2022-2023 operating allocation. The city’s donation to the school system’s operational fund budget is $2.4 million per year. By state law, funding bodies must continue to fund school systems at the same maintenance of effort each year, so that means the city must continue to fund the $2.4 million, but the school board is not asking for a raise in revenue from the city.”

However, the one exception that was made in the letter refers to those members of the Elizabethton Police Department that protect the city’s schools, saying, “However, we would like to request the continuation of the SRO program at all schools with the funding to cover the excess cost beyond the SRO and SAFE Schools grants.”

The letter also includes a request from VanHuss to keep school resource officers available for the school system’s Summer School program, which takes place in the months of May and June.

Funding for school resource officers at Elizabethton High School has been taken care of by the school system for many years, while funding for SROs at elementary schools and T.A. Dugger Junior High have been taken care of by state grants.

With rumors that the SRO grant, which covers $105,000 per year for the school system will end, VanHuss’ letter is an attempt to make sure that all schools in the system will still be protected.

And while some may think that SRO programs at elementary schools are a waste, VanHuss said that is not the case. “That is the furthest thing from the truth. It is always a deterrent, and that is worth every penny in and of itself.

“SROs provide a positive interaction of students with police officers that they may never get in any other situation,” VanHuss said. “You can’t put a value on that. To learn respect for an officer, appreciation for what he does, and starting that at a young age is fantastic. If the grant is not continued, we would ask the city to continue funding these positions.”

The Elizabethton City School Board will reconvene at 5 p.m. on March 2 for a budget workshop, and will hold their next board meeting on March 17 at 5:30 p.m.