Director of Schools Jesse Register says Metro “does not plan to outsource any functions at this time” as the district prepares to deliver a proposed $670.5 million budget for the next fiscal year.
The announcement, made Thursday at the superintendent’s annual “State of Metro Schools” address, is noteworthy because Register and the school board opted to outsource 600 custodial positions last year, creating a controversial budget process for the current fiscal year. Some feared other support staff positions — perhaps bus drivers — could be privatized this go-around.
For now, the proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year — a $37 million increase over the budget of the current year — doesn’t appear contentious, though cuts are expected at some point. The level of state dollars toward education funding is still unclear, and the district stands to lose $30 million in federal stimulus dollars and what Register calls “jobs money.”
“That will require some restructuring in our district and some very difficult choices,” he said Thursday.
The school board is set to vote on the budget on March 22. Mayor Karl Dean has organized a school budget hearing for March 31. The mayor will later unveil a proposed budget for the entire Metro government.
Register, who has led Metro schools for two years, arrived at the budget only toward the tail end of his remarks. For the majority of his speech, he chose not to unveil some new initiative, but instead focused on his reform agenda known as “MNPS Achieves.”
“MNPS Achieves is transforming this district in daily operations, expectations and outcomes,” he said.
With an audience of primarily Metro school employees and a handful of board members watching, Register went down a list of nine topics he has identified as areas of reform through his administration’s so-called “transformational leadership groups.” Over the past year, panels have presented their efforts to the school board.
The groups have zeroed in on the following: human capital; communications; central office effectiveness; information technology and data management; middle schools; high schools; students with special needs; economically disadvantaged students; and English language learners.