When Metro Schools board members begin considering “high leverage” parts of the budget to cut so they can afford charter schools, closing underperforming schools will be one of their options, board member Will Pinkston tells the Scene in advance of today's Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
“The development of charters over the last decade has brought us to a point to consider big options,” explains Pinkston, the board’s budget chair. Closing schools, he says, "is a big option.
“The question is how prepared [House Speaker Beth] Harwell and others who want charters so badly are to have these conversations.”
In its Budget and Finance Committee meeting today, the board will consider ways to fix their $24 million expected budget shortfall for the 2014-15 school year. The board is also scheduled to meet for executive session after the budget meeting.
“As it stands, we’re feeding charter schools every dime of new revenue and starving existing schools and teachers. That’s just not fiscally sustainable or responsible,” Pinkston says.
The meeting comes as a local clash over charter schools simmers at both the school board and Metro Council level. Speaker Harwell, a fan of the charter school movement, has gotten involved on both ends, first in requesting a legal opinion by the state attorney general that ultimately defended the state’s charter school law, and by convincing Metro Councilman Steve Glover to slow down a moratorium on approving new charter schools.