Monroe County Schools officials issued a plea to the Monroe County Commission to increase their funding for the next budget session and, Monday night, the commission responded.

Monroe County Schools Director DeAnna McClendon emailed the county commissioners last week, offering them a suggestion on where those funds can come from.

The suggestion made was for the county commissioners to allocate money from the second wheel tax which generated $1 million for the county.

“I’m asking for $500,000 to $600,000 in funding for the schools,” said McClendon. “The resolution (for the second wheel tax) says that the money goes into the general fund, so the county commissioners can take that and revamp their entire budget.”

During Monday night’s budget workshop, the commissioners tentatively agreed to increase funding for the schools.

McClendon would like to use the funding to purchase new, more up-to-date textbooks, work on their schools’ infrastructure, and deliver step pay to their teachers.

“I have students with text books that are are 10 to 15 and some almost 20 years old,” said McClendon.

She stated the “routine maintenance” on the infrastructure of the school buildings have been neglected due to lack of funding and are now requiring additional work to be placed on them.

According to McClendon, the step pay for the teachers is comparable to the county commissioners’ longevity pay and is vital to keep employees.

“Tennessee schools have what they call a salary or step schedule,” McClendon explained. “This is how you retain teachers – otherwise you are known as a training school and teachers will go somewhere else with higher pay.”

Recent events have also shown her other areas that she would like to strengthen with the budget.

“I think COVID-19 showed us how important that is in times when we can’t put students in seats,” said McClendon. “Most school districts around us were able to continue their instructions without missing a beat.”

She noted the CARE Act should help her schools to prepare for situations that were similar to that brought about as a result of COVID-19.

She believes there are two points that need to be made involving the request for funding.

“My first point is that it is time to stop putting our children last and putting politics, roads, jails and other things before educating our children,” said McClendon. “The second point is the decisions we make today will affect Monroe County 10 and 20 years from now ... These are the people who are going to be working and running your county, so let’s just be careful that we don’t stack the deck in a direction that we wouldn’t want it to go.”

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