Funding our Future

Funding our Future at MNPS
Posted on 03/24/2022
Classroom photo

Spring doesn’t just bring on showers and daylight savings time, but also budget season for localteacher with students governments and school districts across the state of Tennessee. It is a time to review what is working well, what needs improvements, and how we can make sure we have the funding we need allocated to the people and programs we need to ensure student success.

On Tuesday, March 8, Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle and the leadership team of MNPS made the initial budget presentation to the Board of Education’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Starting in 2020, Dr. Battle re-envisioned the way we approach budgeting to give a more transparent view to Board members, Metro Government, and stakeholders about what it costs to continue operations at a “status quo” level while also presenting the many different aspirational budget requests from parents, teachers, staff, and community members throughout MNPS that would help to increase and improve the level of services offered to students and families.

Continuity of Operations Budget

The base of the budget package is our continuity of operations budget, which represents the costs of maintaining a “status quo” level of service from year to year with the normal inflationary expenses, mandatory costs, and step increases for employees factored in so that we can move from year –to year without needing to cut staff or services.

The continuity of operations budget includes various price increases calculated from other state and local entities, some of which won’t be known to the district until later this budget year. It also contains mandatory increases in charter spending and step increases for certificated and support staff that will ensure they continue to move along the pay scale – which outlines what a staff member should expect, at a minimum, for each additional year of employment with the district. This does not include cost-of-living adjustments or pay scale restructuring that are also under consideration.

Following the continuity of operations budget is the aspirational budget, which represents a menu of options that Board members, the Mayor, and Metro Council could choose to fund in addition to our basic needs. These are based on four Board budget priorities:

  • Employee Compensation
  • Continuity of Federally Funded Initiatives
  • Academic and Social-Emotional Learning Integration
  • Operational Improvements and School Support

Employee Compensation

Central to our success as a district are the teachers and staff who work to provide a greatteacher with students in class education to all students in a safe, enjoyable school environment.

In April 2021, Mayor John Cooper announced an historic $81 million investment in Metro Schools that included nearly $55 million to go toward employee compensation and to restructure the pay scale for teachers to ensure that an MNPS teacher had the highest wage in the State of Tennessee at every year of service – correcting a pay scale that offered higher pay at the beginning year of service but flattened pay toward the middle of a teacher’s career.

Unlike teacher compensation, which is structured similarly across public school districts in Tennessee, compensation for support employees looks different across the many districts – and we are also competing with private sector jobs that have similar functions to positions like bus drivers, nutrition services workers, information technology experts, and paraprofessionals.

The Mayor’s Office has once again partnered with NPEF to conduct a review of support employee pay, which is anticipated to be released later along with the Mayor’s budget proposal and State of Metro Address in April.

In addition to pay scale reviews and other pay improvements, the Employee Compensation aspirational budget includes other items that have been requested throughout the years, such as paid family leave, paid Veterans Day, recruitment bonuses, and transportation incentives.

Continuity of Federally Funded Initiatives

Metro Schools has benefited from several new federal grants and programs designed to helphand reading school districts respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bulk of these funds came through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), which amounted to a $426 million investment in MNPS and charter schools in Nashville. You can read more about our ESSER plans, which have been approved by the Tennessee Department of Education and resulted in MNPS being named a Best for All District for our focus on accelerating learning progress for our students. These plans are being continually reviewed and updated based on changing conditions and stakeholder feedback.

There is a time limit on spending these ESSER funds, which run through September of 2024. At that point the district will have to either secure state or local funding to continue those services or discontinue the programs funded through these federal grants. The Continuity of Federally Funded Initiatives budget category includes the items the district has identified that will need additional funding in the future if we want to maintain those services. This does not mean we won’t continue those programs if they aren’t funded in the upcoming budget, but we are putting it on the radar for stakeholders that there will be a point at which we need new investments to continue them.

Academic and Social-Emotional Learning Integration

Improving the focused outcomes of students in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional learning drives the work of our schools and the district as a whole. We’ve been fortunate to see many investments through ESSER that have helped us recover from the pandemic and address the needs of students, but there are additional items that aren’t currently funded that could further improve our level of service to students.

Operational Improvements and School Support

Ensuring students arrive on time, have access to internet and technology, and that we can hire and staff our schools are essential to supporting the work that is happening in classrooms across our district.

District services help to ensure we can maintain strong school operations, and this requires new investments that will boost the quality of services we provide to students, staff, and the families of MNPS.

Stakeholder Meetings and Budget Timeline

There is a lot of information to unpack in our budget presentation, and that’s why we have set up three meetings open to students, staff, and families to learn more about what is being proposed in the FY2022-23 budget and to hear feedback from you about what you think is most important to increasing student achievement and focused outcomes.

These virtual meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams at the following dates and times:

The Board is scheduled to adopt an initial budget proposal at their April 12 meeting, at which point it will be sent to the Mayor for further review. The Mayor will introduce a budget by May 1 that will be adopted or amended by the Metro Council prior to June 30, at which point the Board of Education will adopt or amend our budget in keeping with the level of funding provided by the city.


Budget Meeting Video

This recording is from the April 7 online budget meeting. 

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