Facing the possibility of losing $800,000 from its 2013-14 budget, the Dickson County School Board has called a special meeting to discuss and take possible action on the budget and the 1999 resolution that set up the annual debt payment to the county. The Board of Education sent out a notice late Wednesday morning that the school board will meet in special session at 7 pm Tuesday. On Monday the Dickson County Commission’s Budget Committee voted to withhold just under $800,000 of local taxes designated for the school system to cover the debt payment expected from the school board. But the school board’s budget did not include the payment, which leaves schools $800,000 short. Under an agreement approved by the school board Sept. 16, 1999, the school system agreed to transfer $1,100,000 and all unrestricted fund balances in excess of $4 million to the county’s debt service each year until the debt from building schools is paid off. The agreement, signed by then Superintendent George Caudill and board Chairman Martha Owen, places three conditions on making the payments: 1. Student enrollment growth remains at 3 percent; 2. Property tax allocated for education remains at 40.82 percent or more of the county’s tax rate; and 3. Sales tax allocated for education in Dickson County remains at 70 percent of the total countywide sales tax collected. For the last several years, school officials have said student enrollment, on which most state funding is based, has remained flat and well below 3 percent; that the 88 cents of the $2.85 tax rate that goes to schools is just 31 percent; and since Dickson and other towns reduced the portion of sales taxes they were sharing, the schools are getting less than 70 percent. “Obviously somebody at the school board negotiated a great contract,” Commissioner Tony Adams said of the agreement at Monday night’s meeting. But Adams pointed out that two of the three provisions – student enrollment and percentage of sales tax – are not under the county commission’s control. He did not address the discrepancy in the school system’s share of the property tax rate. It is not clear what action, if any, the school board can take to try to recoup the $800,000 or if the school system is stuck trying to find that much in potential cuts. The school board could consider a court challenge to the validity of the 1999 resolution, but the Budget Committee is withholding the money under the terms of the Maintenance of Effort contract, which a CTAS representative said gives the county the right to designate school system funds to debt service. While what the school board’s options are remains unclear, one thing that is clear is that it plans to explore those options before the county commission’s scheduled final budget vote on July 15. The next regular school board session is not until July 25.