Councilman urges schools to cut pay across the board

Monday, March 22, 2010 at 7:38pm

On the eve of the school board’s final verdict on a proposed $633 million budget, Councilman Walter Hunt urged Director of Schools Jesse Register to reconsider cuts that would affect hundreds of school bus drivers and custodians.

In a letter sent Monday to Register, Hunt offered an alternative, requesting a 3 to 5 percent pay cut among all school employees “beginning with the director of schools.”
Register earns $250,000 a year.

With the plea, Hunt has joined a small group of council members, including Michael Craddock, Eric Crafton and Jamie Hollin, who have public spoken out against cuts outlined in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

Billing the plan as an attempt to protect classroom teachers, Register has recommended outsourcing Metro’s 600-plus custodial positions and reducing the hours of its bus drivers. Combined with slashing 24 positions within the central office, cuts should generate nearly $11 million in savings.

“As I hope you are aware, there is a lot of opposition to the proposal to outsource the job positions as indicated by the many calls and e-mails that I have received,” Hunt wrote in his letter. “I believe it to be wrong to eliminate these positions and take away the wages and benefits from people who can least afford it.”

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee is holding a public hearing tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Metro Southeast building at Genesco Park on Murfreesboro Road, giving Nashvillians their last chance to speak on the matter.

Despite a request by the council in the form of a memorializing resolution, the school board has opted to not hold an additional public hearing on the budget.

The board will vote on the budget at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.


17 Comments on this post:

By: dogmrb on 3/22/10 at 8:22

Can the Director legally do that? I think he can for all non-negotiated positions: aka non-union or serving at the discretion of the Director which gives teacher-tenured people a boost in their salary (and if they are in that position three years, it boosts their retirement amount).

If Register did it for all he could, legally, what would the savings be? Walter Hunt did not think of this alone. Interesting.

By: richgoose on 3/22/10 at 9:21

I think this is a good idea.

By: govskeptic on 3/23/10 at 6:20

Councilman Hunt joins the other Liberal thinkers in leveling everything
in society including pay. Benefits being dolled out by city and state governments is, and has been, out of control for many yrs. This is one
reason the Director is right in putting many of these services out to
private contractors. This is another reason the council should
immediately start looking at revising our current benefits for all employees(including themselves) for a program that can be sustained for the future.

By: sidneyames on 3/23/10 at 7:13

How are these "cuts" going to help the little people doing the dirty work to pay for their Obama-imposed health care? Or even the fine?

By: artsmart on 3/23/10 at 7:26


I think the right thing for Register to have done was that the Bransford group to take pay cuts during this recession. If for no other reason than to show some leadership and an attitude of we are in this together. Bransford is the only group that has had a raise the last 2 years. That way when you are cutting jobs and reducing hours you can at least look like you give a darn about all of the employees. Bransford has a terrible reputation for doing for themselves first and then doling out what is left. It would be interesting to know how much was paid in lawsuits in 2009. I think the number would be frightening.
I will also bet you nothing happened to the people involved. I am conservative by the way, I just think things work better when people work together.

By: govskeptic on 3/23/10 at 7:40

artsmart: you are absolutely right on the points you make. Nothing ever happens to those on public payrolls, of any real consequence, when
rules are broken or total incomptence is well shown. That's why it happens over and over again and again!
Those of us in the private sector have no "Tenure" and are always judged on "what did you do for me(company) today, not what you did last yr.

By: whatsuptls on 3/23/10 at 7:44

I certainly hate the see the cuts are finally here but it has been a long time coming. Years of not directly tackling the budget issues, taking care of 'friends' and frankly the 'Garcia' way of doing things has left a mess that Register has to clean up (and take the heat for).
We are already struggling in the area of academics and cutting the pay of our educators is about the dumbest move we could make. We need that pay structure to be one of the best so we can attract the best. The bus drivers and custodians, while I feel for them, do not have to deal with the daily stress of 'no child left behind' including those who speak zero English, do not have to spend their own personal time grading papers, doing lesson plans, updating their own education, etc.
Are there other options to cutting the budget? Perhaps...but the cuts have to start somewhere...and those that least affect our children's actual education are a sad necessity at this point.
Councilman Hunt, please make sure you look at the big picture - the success of our school system depends directly on the quality of teachers we have and can attract in the future. Reducing their salaries is simply not a viable option to keep us competitive. Perhaps put your efforts into reaching out to the community and assisting those affected find new positions, bus drivers find additional income, etc. Time much better spent than trying to weaken the system as a whole.

By: idgaf on 3/23/10 at 8:20

Is this the same council that voted to spend A BILLION dollars on the MCC that we didn't want?

By: idgaf on 3/23/10 at 8:23

Is this the same council that voted to spend A BILLION dollars on the MCC that we didn't want?

By: idgaf on 3/23/10 at 8:25

btw if they want to save money why not reduce the council from 40 to 5?

By: xhexx on 3/23/10 at 8:56

whatsuptls, if you're so concerned about attracting the best teachers, how about weeding out the crappy ones that are protected by tenure?

By: nashpar on 3/23/10 at 9:31

If Councilman Hunt and others are speaking out on the council which is the funding body, then give the school system the money they need to help the little people as "sidneyames" points out so they can pay their bills too.

By: whatsuptls on 3/23/10 at 9:57

idgaf - you are so RIGHT ON TARGET!

xhexx - how do you think we got those crappy teachers in the first place?

By: jcdad2003 on 3/23/10 at 10:42

Here we go again, another politican asking people do what he is not willing to do. The whole county is in need of money not just the schools, but is he willing to take a pay cut. Of course not, he is just trying to pass the buck. The same thing goes for the state. The powers that be are more than happy to force those who can't afford to survive take deeper cuts in their pockets, but aren't willing to do the same. HYPOCRIPTS!!!

By: conservarage on 3/23/10 at 10:50

how about the council take a 3 - 5 % pay cut too?

also, the employees can save a few $$$ by disaffiliating with the union - not like it seems to be doing them much good anyway.

By: sidneyames on 3/23/10 at 1:33

By: idgaf on 3/23/10 at 9:23
Is this the same council that voted to spend A BILLION dollars on the MCC that we didn't want?

Right on idgaaf. A billion is just the start of that monster's debt.

And sell the governor's BUNKER to help pay teachers. Plus Mr. Register makes $250,000 a year. Does he need all THAT? All government officials who are paid, need a pay cut - NOW!

By: idgaf on 3/23/10 at 9:59

Sid the bunker would make a good homeless shelter wouldn't it?