Proposed $722M schools budget would be a $48M increase

Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:01pm

Metro Director of Schools Jesse Register has proposed a $722.4 million budget for the next fiscal year, a sizeable $48.3 million increase over current education spending to account for a combination of mandatory and proposed new expenditures.

Register’s budget is the subject of a public hearing Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the district’s school board meeting room. From there, it goes before the nine-member school board for a vote on April 10 before budget hearings begin with Mayor Karl Dean’s administration.

If approved, the schools budget for fiscal year 2012-13 would amount to one of Metro’s largest school-spending increases in recent memory, 7.2 percent over the ongoing fiscal year. The current budget –– $674 million –– is $40 million greater than the one that preceded it.

“I don’t know if it’s the largest [ever], but it’s a sizeable increase,” Chris Henson, the school district’s financial officer, told The City Paper.

Among required spending obligations are 100 new teachers to accommodate a 1,600-student increase in enrollment and to fall in line with state-mandated student-to-teacher ratios; the opening of the new Cane Ridge Elementary School; a 2 percent salary increase for some support staff workers; salary step increasing for other employees; and rising insurance and pensions costs.

Additional dollars are set aside for new initiatives: a Register-endorsed plan to bump the starting salary of teachers to $40,000; a new so-called “Bridge School,” to help the transition from middle to high school; and Dean’s “Music Makes Us” program, conceived as an overhaul of the district’s music education program.

Henson said the proposed schools budget is still subject to change before going before the board for approval. 

Metro school officials last year had to cope with tapped federal stimulus dollars and vanishing federal jobs money. In the end, Dean approved Register’s budget, and then campaigned on the tag “fully funding schools” during his re-election bid. Nonetheless, the loss of federal assistance resulted in a decrease of 334 teaching positions.

Like recent cycles, the district is feeling the pressure of a tight budget with limited revenue. But this time, dominating chatter over the budget process is a possible property tax hike, which would be Metro’s first since 2005. Dean’s administration has polled Nashvillians on a tax hike, and it appears to be on the table.

10 Comments on this post:

By: sharko20 on 3/19/12 at 6:40

NO! to property tax hikes. More money will NOT fix the public school problems. People in Davidson County are already maxed out. Stop draining the taxpayer. Find another way to pay for your insatiable appetite to spend other people's money.

By: Shadow63 on 3/19/12 at 6:47

I applaud the raise in pay for teachers, however art and music appreciation along with sports is a luxury we can hardly afford given poor level of reading, writing and arithmetic (yes I said arithmetic) in our schools.
I would ask that much of the money be spent on basic education until the schools are able to show proficiency in those subjects, then we can re-introduce the other electives.
I don't care if a kid can sing, play a flute, or go out for a pass, and neither does a prospective employer.
Keeping the population ignorant is a symptom of tyranny.
P.S. Is it student to pupil or teacher to pupil/student?
See what I mean.

By: asdfgh on 3/20/12 at 2:17

Not even a penny raise for experienced teachers. No cost of living. Nothing. Last year's 0.75% was the only raise we have had in several years. So much for keeping up with inflation. I do appreciate my $15.00 a week raise, but it hardly keeps up with the cost of driving to work now. So many experienced teachers being forced out to make room for the All Stars, Teach for America "teachers". They are the ones being courted and hired. They will be around for two years, then move on with their bonuses to their careers of choice. And those of us who have devoted our lives to this profession and our children will be stuck trying to pay for gas just to get to school.

By: nashwatcher on 3/20/12 at 6:08

Please no property tax hike. They're already high enough...increase the sales tax(something that's more discretionary, so people on the fringes can at least choose...with a property tax hike, there's no choice). People are just trying to get by with the expense of housing, we don't need any more taxes. It affects all property owners and renters.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/20/12 at 8:15

Why? More of our tax dollars going towards these dumb ass kids. Education starts at home, it does not matter how much money you pump into the school system, if parents are not doing what they need to do at home, then it's pointless.

By: Jughead on 3/20/12 at 9:10

The schools never stop asking for money. And, they have become nothing but ghetto daycares. Force Register to make do with less money, not more. Reduce benefits, fire useless employees (and there are HOARDS of them), and install gun detectors. This is ridiculous--when do you stop feeding the beast?

By: RTungsten on 3/20/12 at 10:16

NY1 for psuedo-parent of the year!

By: NewYorker1 on 3/20/12 at 10:55

Thank you.

By: thinking12 on 3/20/12 at 7:52

Make do Mr Register!

Or how about forfeiting your salary until you show us some results?
Or share your salary amongst the teachers?

Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.

Let's put some effort into being economically responsible and quit deluding yourself that taxpayers(maybe we're entitled,too) believe you about anything. Teachers will not teach apathetic kids (and parents) any better if they are paid more.

More money will not fix our schools and our kids -if that worked we would have both by now!
ny1 made a very good point-it would be a very good starting place

By: thinking12 on 3/20/12 at 8:20

Didn't Tennessee just get 500 million in Race to the Top grants ? Where is that money going????