Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pinkston to Dean: Here are the Numbers Associated With Charter School Growth

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

In a letter to Mayor Karl Dean, school board member Will Pinkston responds to Dean's criticism of the way the board has treated charter operators. In a not-so-veiled threat to the board, Dean hinted in a speech to the Chamber that he might use the power of the purse — Metro's budget — to force the school board to make some tough decisions.

Pinkston responded by letter today:

Thank you for your comments at this week’s gathering of the Nashville Chamber’s Report Card Committee. We look forward to more conversations on how to implement large-scale improvement that reaches all schools and all students, with a sense of urgency. As the MNPS Budget and Finance Committee chair, allow me to clarify two matters you addressed.

First, you stated that charter schools do not have any greater fiscal impact on the school system than when students and families opt for magnets or other choice schools. Obviously, we have a different view. Attached is documentation of bank transfers showing approximately $19.3 million in cash outlays from the MNPS account to the accounts of charter operators so far during the current school year. These transfers represent real dollars, and students, leaving the system. However, no such transfers occur when students opt for magnets or other choice schools because the funds remain with the system. Put differently: There are real costs associated with charters, especially in the short term.

Second, you pointed out that MNPS has seen significant revenue growth on your watch. That is true, and we appreciate it. It’s also important to understand where those dollars went. Attached is a copy of a presentation we delivered at a recent work session with the Metro Council. In this document, you’ll see an analysis of MNPS budget growth during your time in office. Nearly half of our growth is tied to employee compensation increases, as well as significant insurance and pension adjustments. More than half of our growth is wrapped up in “required additions” — most notably, cash outlays for charter schools. Overall, our discretionary spending actually has declined. We’ll continue to pursue a fiscally conservative approach to budgeting, and we appreciate your and the Council’s support.

As we enter the homestretch of the holiday season, I look forward to working with you in 2014 as we set budget priorities that address the needs of the system as a whole. I hope you have a Merry
Christmas and Happy New Year.

A PDF of the letter and the 18 pages of attachments can be found here.

The combative Pinkston was a little less diplomatic on Twitter earlier this week.

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