Changes coming to some Carter County Schools to fill $2.2 million budget deficit
Published 9:01 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023
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BY ROBERT SORRELL
To fill a more than $2 million deficit, the Carter County Board of Education voted Thursday to give Keenburg Elementary School a new purpose and move its students to other nearby schools.
The vote moves central office and the Siam Learning Center to the Keenburg campus. The board also voted to move sixth through eighth grade students at Little Milligan Elementary School to Hampton Elementary School.
Brandon Carpenter, the school superintendent, said pay raises, insurance and other costs have created a $2.2 million deficit in the district’s budget. The board recently met for a workshop meeting and discussed options to trim costs.
Carpenter presented two options at Thursday’s board meeting which are expected to fill that deficit.
Option one, which would give the district first year savings of about $2.1 million, includes moving students from Keenburg Elementary to Central and Hunter elementary schools. Keenburg is about five miles from Hunter and more than seven miles from Central. No employees at Keenburg are expected to lose jobs; they will move elsewhere.
The option also moves sixth-eighth grade students at Little Milligan approximately 11 miles away to Hampton.
Option two, which gives the district another $320,000 in savings, moves central office and the Siam school to Keenburg.
Board member Tony Garland made a motion to approve the plan and it was seconded by member Terry Hubbard. Board Chairman Kelly Crain made the only no vote while board member Keith Bowers Sr. said he reluctantly voted yes.
Board member Danny Ward said the plan is the district’s best option. He said he has received at least two calls from residents concerned about the plan, including the option that moves Little Milligan students to Hampton.
Ward said he had heard concerns that Little Milligan was closing, but kindergarten through fifth grades will remain at the school.
Board member Gary Oaks said he did not believe it is the current board’s fault that it had to close a school.
“None of us want to close schools,” Oaks said.
Bowers said, “The funding body of this county should have helped us address this two years ago.”
Crain, who voted no, said there were aspects of the plan that he liked and things he did not like.
The board also approved a motion to replace the bleachers in the visitors’ section at Hampton High School. The project will cost up to $200,000 and should be completed before this fall’s football season.
In his remarks to the board, Carpenter said bidding will soon be held for expansion work at Hunter Elementary School.