published Friday, April 26th, 2013

Hamilton school board OKs $393 million budget

  • photo
    Rick Smith is the superintendent of Hamilton County Schools.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hamilton County school board members unanimously approved a $393 million budget Thursday, moving the current draft from their hands to county officials for approval.

That figure includes separate budgets for food service and federal grants in addition to a $338 million general fund budget, the discretionary portion of school funds. That budget is up from about $331 million this year.

The school system's budget continues to rise, though officials noted that the 2014 proposal asks for no new county revenue, other than automatic increases from growth in sales and property taxes.

While some county commissioners have criticized the school system's finances in recent weeks, Superintendent Rick Smith said he doesn't expect any issues getting approval of his recommended spending plan.

"We're going to be bringing them a balanced budget," he said. "I expect they'll be pleased."

Higher dependent health insurance premiums and a renewed custodial contract helped administrators balance the budget.

A $9.5 million contract with Southern Management will save the district about $1.2 million a year over the current agreement with the same company. Southern Management was the low bidder and has agreed to maintain its current number of employees and existing wage structure, said Gary Waters, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services.

The new agreement should save nearly $5 million over its four-year span, Waters said. The board has the option to renew the agreement for up to four more years.

Both the contract and the budget were approved by 8-0 votes Thursday and with no board discussion. Board member Rhonda Thurman was absent. The board has discussed both issues in several work sessions and meetings over the last several weeks.

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at 423-757-6249 or

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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