- This week, Tennessee's Clay County shut down its three schools due to concerns over the district’s ability to fund education without a tax increase.
- Clay County Director of Schools Jerry Strong has said a solution will likely be in place by next month.
- In total, 1,150 students are affected by the school closure.
Strong attributed the budgetary concerns to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was really the Affordable Care Act for us and it has made it very difficult for us to have our employees properly covered and meet the mandates of the law. That was going to require new revenue and the commission felt like they couldn’t do that through a tax increase.”
Other districts have likely grappled with similar cost increases, as coverage expectations have risen. But the decision to close school in response seems to be a somewhat baffling one. Even the local county commissioner alleges schools could have stayed open through the end of the year, given the remaining funds. What’s more, many districts have policies requiring a certain amount be held in reserve, in case of emergency. It’s not clear if similar reserves have already been exhausted.