KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) ---- The Knoxville Chamber has jumped into a debate worth $35,000,000, urging Mayor Tim Burchett to raise taxes in an effort to improve our schools; while one of the groups affected most, the Knox Co. Education Association, is choosing to remain neutral.
The Chamber joins a growing group asking the Mayor to include a $35,000,000 school budget increase into his upcoming County budget. Director of Schools Dr. Jim McIntyre introduced the increase, spread evenly over the next five years, as a way to improve schools and fund a technology plan.
The Chamber supports the plan saying that "Public schools are at rock bottom." and "The community with the best schools win." It said the property tax increase that is likely to come with the budget increase is needed to make Knoxville a competitive place for businesses.
It claims the budget increase will bring visible change to the classroom within five years.
The KCEA, on the other hand, was not as enthusiastic of the proposed increase, saying "As educators, we do not oppose increasing funding for public schools. However, we cannot unilaterally support the budget in its current form"
In a statement released on Wednesday, the organization expressed concern that the budget redistributes money it claims the legislature allocated to give educators an across-the-board salary increase, denying certified personnel without a local raise for the fourth year in a row. Education Support Professionals will not raises for the fourth year as well, KCEA said.
It was also concerned that the budget included big increases in technology without explaining how it will staff the initiatives. Finally, it mentioned that KCEA did not have input into the budget process.