By CLIFF HIGHTOWER
Williamson County schools will cut $5 million out of its budget according to Dr. Mike Looney, superintendent of schools.
The move is a reversal of what was originally planned just a few weeks ago. The county had come up with two different budgets – a budget of $143 million the schools requested and a $138 million the county requested.
Looney had said he wanted the full County Commission to vote on the budgets and see which one would be approved.
However, on Friday he had talks with County Mayor Rogers Anderson and he came to the conclusion that the school system would follow through and complete the cuts requested by the county’s Budget Committee.
“I don’t want to haggle,” Looney said.
The budget committee voted at the beginning of May for the school system to cut $5 million from its budget. Looney and school officials argued at the time that the money was needed to help keep the school system viable.
He said the school system is taking the cuts with a grain of salt and he still believes there will be consequences.
“The quality of schools will suffer,” Looney said.
Anderson and other commissioners have said there was no appetite to pass a property tax increase this year. Funding the additional $5 million would have likely led to a property tax increase.
Looney said the school system will make the cuts by limiting health insurance costs and decreasing requested new positions. He said the county initially told the schools to raise health insurance payouts by $1,500 an employee, but that will now be cut to $600, he said.
The cuts include an assistant principal, a school counselor and several other positions, he said.
The commission will vote to approve the budget at its July 10 meeting.
“This has been a very, very painful budget process,” Looney said.
Cliff Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CliffHightower.