Knox County parents concerned about possible college readiness program cut

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Several Knox County parents are concerned a college readiness program is in jeopardy. What’s known as the Advancement Via Individual Determination or AVID program is on the chopping block for next year’s Knox County Schools budget.

Julie Dougherty has two children enrolled in AVID at Cedar Bluff Middle School. The program prepares students for college, but Dougherty says it’s done more than that.

“How to study to maximize their strengths, how to organize themselves to maximize their progress in school and it’s just really been a godsend,” said Dougherty.

Julie Dougherty
Julie Dougherty

AVID is on the list with other programs and operational costs that might be cut in next year’s budget. It costs about $280,000 to run the program and it used to be funded by The Great Schools Partnership.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre said it now falls under the school district.

“We’ve really struggled to identify resources to support it, and that’s where we are today. We’ve got a few more days to continue to really look at and really refine our budget before the board votes on it next week, but it’s a very tight budget. There’s some difficult tradeoffs in this budget,” said Dr. McIntyre.

Cedar Bluff Middle School is one of more than half a dozen schools in the area that has the AVID program. Parents say they’re speaking up to keep the program around. Dougherty was one of several parents to tell the Superintendent she wants the program to stay.

Dr. Jim McIntyre
Dr. Jim McIntyre

“They’re excited about high school. They’re excited about college. They’re not deciding if they’re going to go to college. They’re already looking at where they’re going to college and as a parent that makes me feel really good,” said Dougherty.

Dr. McIntyre said he’ll be looking at the budget again before submitting it to the school board. Teachers are expected to receive an across the board three percent raise and a bonus, if they’re qualified. That could increase the average teacher’s salary of $46,000 by roughly $3,000 if they qualify for both.

The school board will vote on the budget proposal next Monday at a called meeting. If they approve the budget, it will move on to the Knox County Commission.

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