TN withholds funds from Metro schools, district considers options

TN withholds funds from Metro schools, district considers options (Image 1)

The Metro Nashville School District is expecting a payment from the state, Monday, for millions less than what they normally receive.

The Tennessee Department of Education decided last month to withhold $3.4 million in funding after the city's school board voted 5-4 not to approve a charter school proposal.

Kelli Gauthier, Director of Communications for the Department of Education said they are still planning to withhold the money even though the district has pleaded for them to reconsider.

“The state is withholding $3.4 million from MNPS due to their board's repeated defiance of state law,” Gauthier wrote in an email. “The scheduled Basic Education Program payment from which the $3.4 million will be taken, is scheduled to go out to districts on October 15.”

The state warned the board several times that they were breaking the new state law, which allows for open enrollment and more charter schools to open.

However, the board voted several times not to approve Great Hearts Academy's application.

Opponents said its proposal lacked a plan for promoting diversity by not providing transportation to students outside the mostly white affluent neighborhoods they were considering.

The charter operator argued that they did have a plan.

Olivia Brown, Director of Communications for MNPS, said their school board chair, asked the state to reconsider but they haven't heard anything differently as of Friday.

The $3.4 million was supposed to be used for utilities, student transportation, and maintenance costs.

“This is a significant amount of funding in a budget that is already tight. We do not yet have a plan to address this funding cut and it will require board action to amend our budget,” Brown wrote in an email.

According to The Tennessean, the district has discussed a possible hiring freeze.

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