While the state’s largest school systems agitate over inadequacies in the state’s education funding formula, Gov. Bill Haslam is offering little on whether he’s willing to tackle that issue himself.
Anecdotally, Haslam said he finds at least 90 percent of the education community telling him they’re not getting a fair shake under the complex Basic Education Program funding formula that dictates how much state money is divvied out to schools statewide.
“Anything that’s driven by formula like that is going to leave people feeling that way,” he told Pith. “That’s one of the things we’re having discussions about. I mean, that’s kind of been out there in the background forever.”
Board members from the state’s four largest school districts met over the weekend as the Coalition of Large School Systems to talk about how the proliferation of charter schools has eaten up chunks of the Metro Nashville school district’s budget.
The Metro Nashville School Board tackled a monster agenda last night, sparking another round of debate about charter schools’ place in Nashville to OK-ing a $4.3 million early retirement plan and resolving capacity issues at one of the city’s magnet schools.
Here’s the breakdown, after the jump:
As the Tennessee School Boards Association met at the Opryland Convention Center this weekend, school board members from the state’s four largest districts broke off to talk strategy on Sunday, finding themselves with joint appetites to coalesce against the state.
The target: the state’s education funding formula.
Driven by a presentation from Metro Nashville School Board’s Will Pinkston explaining how charter school growth will cost the school district an estimated $23 million in its next budget, the state’s four largest school districts rallied around the idea of challenging the Basic Education Program formula as a way to address school choice finances.
“Consider this is a glimpse of what the future will look like in your budgets,” said Pinkston, pointing to charter school costs climbing from $4.6 million in 2008 to an estimated $62 million next year. “Make no mistake, they’re headed your way if they haven't gotten there already.”
Careful to say some charter schools have been good to the school district, Pinkston pointed to 21 charter schools calling the state home four years ago, compared to 22 of the schools on the books now in Nashville alone.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he “hasn’t made a final decision” whether to push his small-scale voucher program again after his limited plan — giving private school tuition to 5,000 low-income students at the state’s worst schools — was nearly hijacked by a handful of Senate Republicans who wanted a bigger program this year.
“It’s not a deal to be struck,” said Haslam, acknowledging ramped up efforts from pro-voucher groups and lawmakers. “We obviously proposed last year what we thought was the right approach and there’s nothing that’s changed our mind.”
As we reported in this week’s dead tree edition, where to go on vouchers is a matter of unfinished business for the GOP-led legislature to address in the new year, along with a state panel to authorize rejected charter schools. Although House Speaker Beth Harwell wants to see the authorizer bill passed, she hinted the state should slow down and take a pass on vouchers.
More, after the jump.
Metro Schools could save more than $2.1 million a year under a buyout plan to district employees with at least 30 years of service.
The savings would be the first step to help dig Metro Nashville Public Schools out of a budget hole that looks to be $23 million deep in the next school year — a problem the district officials have largely blamed on growing cost of local charter schools.
“Talking about early retirement incentives and opportunities for workforce reductions on a voluntary basis is a good start, but there’s lots of other things that we need to be doing as a board and an organization to look for additional cost savings and efficiencies. We’ll keep looking,” said Will Pinkston, chair of the school board’s Budget and Finance Committee which approved the proposal Tuesday night.
A state senate panel convened today to review the role of the State Textbook Commission. Here's what you should know about the commission:
1) The bias in textbooks debate here began in earnest about a year ago when a Williamson County parent began questioning “blatant anti-Semitic rhetoric” in one of her children’s textbooks. Over the summer, a joint legislative committee brought those and similar concerns to the state Textbook Commission which approves the books. At the time, state lawmakers were largely convinced the panel was overwhelmed. Members of the commission have since added that they receive little training, and one member said he was given only a copy of the state statute and a 20-some year-old video in preparation for his role on the panel.
2) The Textbook Commission is made up of 10 educators appointed by the governor to recommend books to the State Board of Education, which officially adds books to an approved reading list. In making its decisions, the commission collects recommendations from 27 licensed teachers who read and evaluate new books. The commission is also provided feedback from public comments, according to a state official.
The state’s Higher Education Commission annually compiles data on recently graduated teachers to judge how its 42 schools and alternative certification teaching programs fare producing quality educators.
Here’s what they found in a report released today namely evaluating teachers who graduated in 2011-2012:
1) Of the 4,900 people who completed a teacher training program in 2011-12, 20 percent came from alternative certification programs. Among all programs, more than three out of four people who completed were female and seven in eight were white.
As Metro begins searching for bidders to audit Nashville’s $746 million, 150-school district, there’s a movement afoot to keep the review of contractors under wraps.
Privately choosing between bidders wanting government contracts is common practice to protect companies from sharing sensitive information. However members of the audit committee had originally agreed to evaluate the proposals offering to dig into the large school district at open public meetings.
“Frankly, I don’t know what we have to hide here,” said Councilman Steve Glover who is one of two council members serving on the audit committee. “It’d be healthy for it to be open.”
More, after the jump.
Claims charter schools boot struggling students shortly before state exams and take in few kids with disabilities should be included in Metro’s audit of the city school system, says one school board member.
The board's Budget Committee Chair Will Pinkston wants the city-funded audit — which will comb through operations at the $746 million school district — to also “resolve these current claims” against Nashville’s charter schools, he said in a letter to Metro Auditor Mark Swann Friday.
Metro Council’s audit committee already approved the scope of the audit earlier last week, largely limiting focus on charter schools to their per pupil costs and how charter school budget allocations impact resources on non-chartered schools. With the scope in place, Metro is expected to begin asking for bidders on the audit. Swann says if the committee approves of Pinkston’s additions, “we’ll find the resources to get it accomplished.”
Councilman Steve Glover, who sits on the audit committee, said it isn’t too late to consider adding the two items to the audit.
“If the guidance hasn’t been sent to the market, then there’s plenty of time to adjust it. I’m frankly surprised it wasn’t in the mix to begin with,” said Glover. “Unless it’s going to add a substantial amount of money to the audit, I’m not sure what the hangup would be,” he said.
Councilwoman Emily Evans spearheaded the Metro audit and said Pinkston’s questions should be handled by the school district and its charter school office.
“I think that request is a day late and a dollar short,” she said, adding the focus needs to be on charter school funding. “We’re not interested in micromanaging individual schools.”
Almost nine in 10 cases of bullying complaints in Metro Schools turned out to be valid, according to a report by the state Department of Education.
Metro Schools recorded 923 bullying cases last school year, with 812 of those cases verified after an investigation.
The stats come at the behest of state lawmakers who passed a law in 2012 requiring the Department of Education to track statistics on student bullying among the state’s school districts and share them annually with lawmakers.
For bullying prevention month in October, the recently released report shows school officials recorded 7,555 cases of bullying statewide last school year, with nearly three of four of them — 5,478 cases — confirmed after in an investigation.
The numbers indicate roughly 1 percent of the district's 81,000-student population last year complained of bullying. While the state requested a breakdown between cases that involved sex or gender, ethnicity, or disability, MNPS lacked those details. In the 283-page school-by-school report, found here, MNPS indicated their current record-keeping is too broad but district is in the process of shifting how it reports those statistics.
Statewide, almost one in 10 cases of bullying involved discrimination based on sex or gender, according to the report. Just over 4 percent involved race, color or national origin and roughly 2 percent involved a disability.
About 7.5 percent of bullying cases happened electronically, such as cyber-bullying.
I remember when I started kindergarten I knew my ABCs, though I don't remember learning…
I voted for Dean and Pinkston....because they are goal orienated and not particular good Politicans…
Having a grandchild who attends Pre-K, and being the one who picks her up everyday…
He is so Cute......Thanks for the reading material....
Bubba, you are projecting your own attitudes and emotions onto me. I'm speaking up here…