WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Knoxville Superintendent Preparing for Worst Case Scenario

Jan 25, 2016

The Knoxville School District is studying what it might do if the state comes up short with funding again this fiscal year. 

Superintendent Steve Wilder is concerned the district could be shorted up to six general state aid (GSA) payments. He said that would cost the district nearly $1 million -- or roughly one-quarter of its annual budget.

Wilder said upcoming contract negotiations with the teacher’s union in the spring will be affected by the uncertainty.

“We’ve had very, very, very preliminary talks but a couple of the big issues are length of contract and salary. What we can afford to pay teachers and how long that goes out,” Wilder said.

Wilder said the district usually works out contracts of three-to-four years with teachers.  But it’s possible the two sides will settle on a single year deal this time around because of uncertainty over how much will be available to pay teachers.

Wilder said the district must also address capital needs, such as a new air conditioning unit for the grade school.  Wilder said the district is deciding whether to issue bonds to cover the estimated $300,000 cost of installing a new system.

Wilder said whatever the district decides to do, it’ll be felt throughout the community.

“In a smaller issues, I think that’s one of the issues we face is just being responsible. And knowing whatever decision we make impacts people personally, and trying to avoid overburdening local taxpayers,” Wilder said.