Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed 1.6 percent pay increase for state employees and teachers could leave Metro Nashville Public Schools searching for room for an additional $5.7 million in its still-fluctuating budget.
The Metro Nashville Board of Education signed off Tuesday night on a $670.5 million budget for the 2011-12 next fiscal year, meaning it’s headed to Mayor Karl Dean and, later, the Metro Council for final approval within the local government’s overall budget. Dean and the school board have a budget hearing next week, but all indicators suggest the schools budget could undergo changes at some point.
“It is [a budget] that funds our schools but one that will most likely need to be modified and revised downward by this board due to the economic hardship we’re facing,” said Michael Hayes, who chairs the school board’s budget and finance committee.
Not only is there still uncertainty over local revenue numbers, there’s also the matter of Haslam’s plan for a salary increase for teachers, which the governor has carved into his recently proposed $30.2 billion budget.
According to Director of Schools Jesse Register, one-third of the pay increase would come from the state’s Basic Education Program dollars, with the remainder coming from local funds. Register said it amounts to a $5.7 million cost to the local budget and acknowledged it could change what the district is able to fund.
For now, the budget isn’t a contentious one. Board members approved it unanimously after little discussion, though they acknowledged Haslam’s proposal could create a new challenge.
There’s more pressure within the federal budget, a funding level the school board can’t control, though the board Tuesday approved the allocation of these funds. The district stands to lose $30 million in federal stimulus dollars and another $7 million in federal jobs money.
That reality means a net loss of 430 school positions, among other programs and items, for next year, a projected 80 to 100 that are classroom teaching positions. The figures, which are still preliminary, take into account a gain of 128.5 positions outlined in the local budget. Special education workers and instructional coaches are among the hardest hit.
The board Tuesday also approved the district’s good service fund for the next fiscal year, which includes a 25-cent increase on the price of lunches.
Elementary school lunches will increase from $2 to $2.25. Middle and high school lunches will climb from $2.25 to $2.50. Breakfast costs will remain the same.