Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Predicting District’s Fiscal Capacity Is Next Stop In Charter School Debate

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Long entangled in disagreements within the community over the role charter schools should play in the growing Metro Nashville education system, the school district hopes to soon unveil a model for predicting how many schools are doable here.

The district is planning to hire MGT of America, Inc., a company based in Washington state, to develop a fiscal capacity model to determine how many charter schools the district can afford, while also developing a report on the financial impact the publicly funded privately run schools have on the district’s budget. The contract would total $43,000 and the firm is expected to turn around the model and report after three weeks.

“We’re obviously going to get criticized for that cost, but that’s less than the cost of five charter seats,” said Will Pinkston who chairs the budget committee briefed on the proposal Tuesday.

Pinkston, a leading player at the Metro School Board, has spent much of the last two years complaining about the financial cost charter schools put on the rest of the home district. Charter schools are issued about $9,000 for each student they teach, a cost district officials say is challenging for MNPS proper to do without.

The publicly funded, privately run public schools have averaged an annual increase of 58 percent in cash outlays for the schools since 2008, according to Pinkston. Despite that budget growth, Mayor Karl Dean plans to fund almost all the new dollars the district is asking for this year, save $5 million. The district plans to draft a plan account for that cut later this month.

While the district prepares to hire MGT to design a fiscal capacity model as early as next week, the city is awaiting the results of a district-wide audit that will also include an evaluation of the financial pressures charter schools put on the district’s budget. A draft of that report is expected out in June.

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