Mayor Dean Gives Tepid Response To Metro Schools Budget Increase

Mayor Dean speaking at a news conference last year. The Mayor referred to Metro's pre-kindergarten initiative as both "thoughtful" and "innovative". (photo credit: creative commons/Lee Roberts)

Mayor Dean speaking at a news conference last year. The Mayor referred to Metro’s plan to expand pre-kindergarten access to 340 more students as both “thoughtful” and “innovative”. (photo credit: creative commons/Lee Roberts)

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean wouldn’t give a “yes” or “no” to any of the initiatives in Metro Schools’ budget presentation Wednesday, which asked for $32.5 million more than last year.

The changes would lift the school system’s total funding, which was already the largest chunk of Metro’s budget, to $779 million.

School officials want to keep a 2 percent raise for teachers and support staff, after Governor Haslam reneged on his plan to increase teacher pay statewide. The Mayor wouldn’t give a definitive answer on if the salary boost would make his final proposal to the Metro Council.

“I’m not ruling it out,” Dean said. “I’m just saying today was the budget hearing and now we go back and work on the budget for the next couple weeks”

Dean will present his spending plan to the council by the end of April.

New charter schools alone make up nearly half of the budget increase, but the Mayor focused his questions on an expanded pre-kindergarten program and an initiative that helps teachers prep students for Common Core testing.

MNPS allocated nearly $3.5 million to set up three new pre-school facilities. Along with opening Casa Azafran, Metro will close Ross Elementary and Bordeaux Elementary schools – deemed “low performing” – and repurpose the school buildings.

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