Facing a $1.8 million budget shortfall, the Campbell County School Board voted Tuesday night to shut down the county’s alternative school and reintegrate those students back to schools in Jellico and LaFollette.
As first reported by the Volunteer Times, the budget deficit that needed to be addressed is due to declining enrollment numbers at county schools, which directly affects the money provided to the schools by the state under its Basic Education Program, or BEP.
The Board did vote to reverse an earlier recommendation to remove the sixth through eighth grades from White Oak School after parents, teachers and other stakeholders voiced their displeasure.
The Times reports that school leaders, including Director Jennifer Fields, had stressed through the budget process that they would be looking to make cuts with an eye toward impacting as few students as possible.
Fields told the Times that closing the Homer A. Rutherford Learning Academy will save at least $215,000 a year. Students attending that school will either go back to the school for which they are zoned, or could choose homeschooling as an alternative. She described the decision as the largest cut affecting the most students.
More money was saved in the budget by deciding not to replace retiring teachers, offering incentives for early retirement and reducing the number of adminstrative positions.
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