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Sullivan BOE wrangling with $6.9 million budget shortfall

June 5th, 2012 11:03 pm by Rick Wagner

BLOUNTVILLE — As Sullivan County’s school system sails into some uncertain financial waters, school officials are emphasizing they value and want to keep current employees employed.

“Every effort will be made to keep everyone who’s working working,” Sullivan County Board of Education Chairman Ron Smith said during Tuesday night’s BOE meeting.

The BOE will meet later this month to begin wrangling with an initial budget shortfall of $6.9 million, while the County Commission is facing about a $5 million issue in non-school areas.

Among BOE audience members Tuesday night were some support staff of Weaver Elementary School in eastern Sullivan County. They said they are concerned in the short term about job cuts to balance the budget and in the long term about the likely closure of their school.

“No decisions have been made,” Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said after the meeting. “We have a lot of open positions.”

In addition, Yennie said the support staff of Cedar Grove, Kingsley and Brookside elementary schools have been folded into the new Ketron Elementary STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school. Those schools in the Sullivan North High School zone closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

Yennie also said letters went out recently to aides about the possibility of position cuts, but like Smith he said keeping people is a top priority.

“We really believe that people are our strength,” Yennie said. “And we will need help from the County Commission.”

Smith in the meeting also encouraged supporters of public education to attend a County Commission Budget Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday and the full commission meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, June 18.

“If you support public education, let folks (on the commission) know you support them,” Yennie said.

Read the full version of this report in Wednesday's print or enhanced electronic version of the Times-News.

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