Metro Nashville Public Schools See Declining Enrollment And Declining Funds

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Metro Nashville Public Schools will be receiving more funds from the state, thanks to the new education funding formula, but, with enrollment numbers lower than anticipated, they will be bringing in about $22 million less than expected.

According to Mayor John Cooper’s news conference last week, the new funding formula is going to make finances worse for Metro schools.

“State action is threatening Nashville’s school funding on multiple fronts,” Cooper said. “Under the current funding formula, Davidson County receives fewer dollars per student than almost any county in the state. And next year under the state’s new formula, TISA, the problem is going to get worse.”

The mayor says that the $1 billion worth of additional school funding is what will boost Nashville’s total funding increase, not the new formula. He says the new formula will actually net Metro Schools a smaller percentage of funding because TISA looks at how much local governments are able to put towards education. That estimated contribution is based on sales tax and property values.

“The state has not recognized our higher cost of living in Nashville or the number of disadvantaged students that Nashville has,” Cooper explained.

Governor Lee’s office says that Metro Schools will actually receive an extra $40 million without having to increase local taxes.

“Despite declining enrollment, Nashville will have access to greater resources, and students will finally be funded based on their own unique learning needs,” said Lee spokesperson Casey Black in an email to Main Street Nashville. “This is a win for Nashville students, teachers, and administrators who will benefit from additional funding and greater accountability.”

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The current decrease in funding cannot actually be attributed to TISA, however, because the new plan will not take effect until 2023-2024.

MNPS Chief of Finance Chris Henson gave Metro Council members three reasons for the decreased state funding.

The first cause is Nashville’s ability to garner increased local revenue. With rising property values and an increase in retail sales tax, the amount of the state’s contribution has decreased by about $10 million.

Additionally, reports say that increased enrollment in state-run charter schools has lessened the amount of money MNPS receives per student. This also takes about $10 million away from the state funding amount.

Finally, the state had frozen funding based on 2020 school enrollment levels because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When that freeze was lifted, MNPS had seen a decrease in enrollment of about 5%, leaving them with even less state money.

Back in April, Mayor Cooper proposed that $92 million be allocated to MNPS. That is up from the $81 million that was proposed in the previous year.

If that proposal is approved, pay would increase for bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and paraprofessionals. MNPS would also finance paid family leave for their employees. 

Metro Council member Tanaka Vercher believes that any additional funding should go towards increasing student achievement and meeting student needs.

“They are advocating for salary increases for staff, and I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but almost seven years on I can’t recall a time when they were solely advocating for the kids. Who’s the lobbyists for the children,” Vercher said to Main Street Nashville.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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