A small salary bump, shifting expenses and five new charter schools are a few reasons that the Metro Nashville Public Schools district wants the city to add $44 million dollars to its budget next school year.
The $765 million budget represents a 6 percent increase over the current school year’s budget, a bump district officials expect Mayor Karl Dean will be open to.
“We’re just going to make the ask and have a discussion about it,” said board member Will Pinkston who chairs the board’s budget committee. “This is the moment in this community where we really get to have the conversation about costs, how committed people really are to creating new innovation through charters and other schools, and carrying forward investments when federal dollars run out, if we think they’re good investments.”
The nine-member school board approved the budget easily at its regular school board meeting Tuesday after weeks of discussing the implications of the increases, particularly the effect of needing $15 million  to add five privately run, publicly funded charter schools next school year.
Approximately 80 percent of the district’s operating budget is made up of labor costs, according to Chris Henson, the MNPS chief financial officer. The budget also includes a 1.5 percent pay increase for district employees, plus increases in costs for pension and insurance benefits.
MNPS’ budget proposal also includes absorbing projects now paid for with federal grants like alternative teacher licensing programs, staff for a data warehouse and the district’s STEM office focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.
The proposal now goes before Dean’s administration for a budget hearing Friday at 9 a.m. in the mayor’s media conference room on the first floor of the Metro Courthouse.