Knox Has Big Plans for New BEP Money

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Knoxville (WVLT) -Nineteen million dollars, that's how much more money Knox County will spend on your children next year.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman takes a look at the school districts wish list.

Those extra dollars truly mean that some of those wishes will come true.

Governor Phil Bredesen calls it an important first step, but it's not the last step.

That first step brings nineteen-million extra dollars to Knox County Schools. Which means for two-years in a row now Knox County will be able to basically fund the school systems' entire budget request.

"Even though it's a premier school system, anytime we can get more money, especially when we're looking at raising the rigor and making a high school diploma that's relevant in this day and time, that's important to us,” says Karen Davis, whose son attends Central High.

It was persistence from Knox Countians that paid off in the form of the BEP "reform" which most feel finally brings some fairness to the county in the new BEP 2.0 which the Governor ceremonially signed Tuesday morning on the Market Square mall.

"This will allow us in Knox County to take a very good school system and move it toward a great school system and our children deserve that, and it's an appropriate step to take,” says Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.

"I know there are some very important programs that Knox County has been interested in funding, and this will be a big help for that,” says Anne Haston, President of the Knox County Council PTA.

At the top of that list of important programs is the literacy initiative.

"Looking at the literacy program, we can keep a lot of children from falling in the cracks making sure that they actually are on track on grade level when it's time to be on grade level. That'll insure them a good, successful future,” says Davis.

Second on the list is retaining great teachers and recruiting great teachers.

"You can have all the superintendents and governors and principals and secretaries you want. Ultimately education is about having the right teacher in the classroom. We get that part right, and we'll do just fine,” says Governor Bredesen.

The $344 million budget for Knox County Schools was approved earlier this month by the County Commission.

It includes $6 million officials projected the school system would receive from the state.

Now, factor-in those new BEP 2.0 dollars and the budget increases to $357 million.

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