Jacobs’ budget has big implications for area schools

A firm commitment to help alleviate already overcrowded Hardin Valley schools was among the long list of 2019-20 budget items proposed earlier this month by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, and he addressed that along with other highlights during a public follow-up meeting Friday, May 3, in Farragut Branch of Knox County Public Library.

The $853.1 million budget is heavy on education, with 63 percent of that amount — $506.6 million — earmarked for the purpose of public school funding.

Of that, an initial $3 million has been approved for land acquisition somewhere in the northwest sector, which is the first step toward constructing a new elementary school, Jacobs confirmed.

Ultimately, $22 million is the suggested appropriation to build the new school, which is estimated to be completed by 2023, according to the county’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan.

Although Hardin Valley currently has an elementary, middle and high school, the latter two of which have been completed during the last 11 years, there has remained a need for yet another brick-and-mortar school structure to help keep up with the area’s rapid and continuing expansion.

“The northwest portion of the county has seen significant population growth,” Jacobs said. “And a new elementary school has been at the top of the schools list.”

He said while recent emergency needs to replace Adrian Burnette and Lonsdale schools in East Knoxville has bumped the proposed Hardin Valley school down a bit on the priority list, it still remains a commitment.

While the county will provide the funding, Knox County Board of Education will administer program and project monies, Jacobs explained.

Also specific to the Farragut area is a new $50,000 appropriation to the Farragut West Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. While Town of Farragut annually contributes to the organization, this will be the first year Knox County has made a contribution, according to FWKCC CEO/president Julie Blaylock, who said she was “thrilled” when the announcement was first made early last week at the FWKCC’s April 30 Breakfast Speaker Series. (See related story starting on page 6A.)

During the library meeting, Jacobs also was excited to discuss his new school literacy program, Read City USA, a partnership between Knox County Government, Knox County Schools, Knox County Public Libraries and Great Schools Partnership, which is earmarked for $750,000 in the coming fiscal year.

Additionally, the plan includes $77 million for engineering and public works projects, primarily for road and highway construction and improvements, including $5 million for improvements on and along Canton Hollow Road.

Jacobs’ budget keeps property taxes at $2.12 per each $100 of assessed value; and, if approved by Knox County Commission, also provides 3.5 percent raises for teachers, 6 percent raises for sheriff’s office employees and unspecified raises for county employees.