Monday, April 6, 2020

Nashville schools asked to cut $100M from their budget due to the Coronavirus revenue shortage.

by Rod Williams - Mayor Cooper has asked the School Board to look at ways to cut up to $100 million dollars from their budget. This is necessary, he says, because the city is expecting a $200 million to $300 million reduction in expected revenue for the current fiscal year due to the Coronavirus business shutdown.

One hundred million dollars is a whopper of a big cut at a time when many feel the Schools are underfunded. Our schools are failing and there is a problem with retaining teachers. I am not so sure throwing money at the schools would fix the problem anyway but it would probably help with teacher recruitment and retention.  In the fall, the Metro School Board studied teacher pay and said  that to boost the salaries of Nashville teachers to match the city's median income would cost more than $100 million a year. Unions applauded the study. If the School Boards does  plan to ask for the money suggested in the pay plan study that would be $100 million they would need in addition to any other increases in operating cost. That would be an increase request like we have never seen. That would be a whopper of an increase!

The current Schools budget is $914 million.  If they were to add the $100 million called for in the pay study that would  put the schools up them up $1.014 Billion. The current 2019-2020 operating budget for Metro Schools at $914.5 million was a 3.2% or $28.2 million increase over the 2018-2019 budget.  However, the school district requested $76.7 million in additional funding or an 8.6% increase over the then current $886.3 million budget. The year before that, Schools requested a $45.7million increase and got a $5 million increase. So, if you take the current $914 million add the $100 million to fund the pay study, and add, say, another $100 million, the Schools would ask for $1.114 Billion. Are they going to be happy with $814 million?  It should also be noted that Cooper is asking the School Board to cut their budget by $100 million and that assumes he gets a substantial property tax increase. That may not happen.

Several of the current members of the Council, especially the progressives, run on a platform  to "fully fund" the School budget. What that means is they said they would write a blank check to the school board, in effect, and give the Board whatever amount they asked. With a large portion of the Council committed to that position, the School Board is more likely to aim high.  I hope that those who made that pledge will relay to the School Board that we now have a crisis and they are no longer bound by that pledge. The School Board needs to forget about a whopper of an increase in funding and figure out how to make substantial cuts.

For more on the topic see this link, and this link.

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