By A.J. DUGGER III
Budget cuts and sewer expansions were the highlights of a detailed Williamson County School Board work session at the WCS Central Office Thursday evening.
The board talked about the expansion of Franklin’s sanity sewer to Henpeck Lane, an underdeveloped property owned by Williamson County Schools. A middle school being built there next summer will use the sewer line. Oak View Elementary would be placed on the sewer system as well.
The expansion would consist of a 3,800 linear foot extension of a sanitary sewer main from the Five Mile Interceptor in the Goose Creek Sanitary Sewer Basin. The sewer would be installed in the Ellington Park Subdivision where it would then extend across Lewisburg Pike to the Oak View Elementary property line.
“It’s a pretty complex situation. But I’m excited about moving this project forward,” Superintendent of Williamson County Schools, Dr. Mike Looney said. “We need to get the sewer upgraded and expanded so we can move forward.”
Working under the river is the only way to accomplish this feat.
“We’re going under the river and through the woods,” Looney said jokingly. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) approved the expansion, so there should be no problems during the sewer expansion process.
The school opening is set for the year 2020, but Looney feels that could be done earlier if they act fast.
“We have two different land owners working with us, and 20 acres of suitable property. If we start work soon, hopefully the school should be in construction by next summer and open in the fall of 2019 at the latest.”
The board also discussed the possibility of a two percent raise for Williamson County School faculty for the 2017-18 school year. The raise would come from the available fund balance.
“We do not have the money to do that,” Leslie Holman, chief financial officer of Williamson County Schools said.
Despite her doubts, the school board will still see if the idea can become a reality.
“We can try to have the county commission approve it, but we’d be using our budget to fund it. We can’t do that without raising taxes, and it’s already been an expensive year,” Holman said. The fund balance is currently $1,657,397.
Looney also talked at length about the proposed amendment to cut the Williamson County Schools budget.
“Central Office had to make some sacrifices in personnel to decrease the cost of the budget,” he said, noting that several teaching jobs had to be cut.
Last May, the County Commission proposed a cut due to the growing gap between lack of county revenue and steady student growth. Because of this, the commission feared a property tax increase.
“This budget will not require a tax increase despite misinformation out there,” Looney said. “But, we can barely make this work after our budget got cut by five million last month. This has been the most difficult budget process since my time as superintendent.”
Before the five million dollar cut, the school’s budget was $343 million.
You can reach A.J. Dugger at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @duggerman.