Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Board Braces For Next Debate On District Capacity For Charter Schools

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Three things to know about last night's school board meeting at Metro Nashville Public Schools"

1) Charter financial analysis: By the time the school board sits down to decide what new charter schools they’ll approve later this summer, they expect to have a financial model in hand to help them figure out what they can afford. After the idea failed in a tied voted two weeks ago, the board approved a $43,000 contract with MGT of America, Inc. to extrapolate the district’s future charter school capacity. Opponents argue the model will work as tool to justify rejecting new charter schools, although advocates say they need to better understand the district’s capacity for the non-traditional schools.

The discussion rekindled debate on the board’s overarching concerns about charter schools, such as how the privately-managed public schools select students, rates of attrition from charter schools and the schools’ funding. The debate also dredged up arguments that the district should better communicate with charter schools to replicate what is working in the best charter schools’ buildings. School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Mayes promised to host a board meeting focused entirely on charter schools before the nine-member board votes on the latest slate of applicants. The board is expected to vote on the new schools in July, but it could push that conversation back until early August.

2) 12South rezoning: After weeks of pressure from parents, the district is pitching a fresh rezoning plan targeted for the new elementary school at the old Waverly-Belmont building in 12South. The plan also seeks to alleviate overcrowding at Percy Priest and Julia Green elementary schools which are nearing 120 percent capacity.

Parents had complained that earlier versions of the school zones broke up their neighborhoods and they peppered the district with some 300 emails and 60 letters, according to the district. After several community meetings, the newest lines appear to have the community’s support but school board members said the district could have gone further to build diversity in the schools. The board is expected to vote on the new zone lines at its meeting on June 10. Maps, enrollment numbers and diversity numbers at the school are available here.

3) Final budget: School board members have officially shaved down their budget request for next year by $5 million, bending to the will of Mayor Karl Dean who is recommending a slightly smaller budget than the system wanted. The district originally asked for a $779 million allotment from Dean for the next school year, a $32.5 million increase from the current year. The district largely balanced the difference using revised estimates for costs on various Metro-supplied utilities and the recent announced closure of two charter schools. The district’s budget now is before the Metro Council, although the board anticipates having to fill a $22 million budget gap for the following budget year.

Check below for the Twitter play-by-play.

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