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BUDGET TALK: What’s in the revised budget?

Back in March, the Board of Education approved an operating budget proposal that called for $852 million for the 2016-17 school year. In April, Mayor Megan Barry recommended a reduced funding amount of $843 million, which still represents a $33 million increase over the current operating budget.

On Friday, May 13, the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee met to look at a revised budget proposal that meets the Mayor’s recommended amount. The revised budget reduces spending by $9.1 million.

Here is a breakdown of what was reduced and what still remains in the proposed operating budget. To see everything that was originally included, take a look at our original budget breakdown.

  • Current year operating budget (2015-16): $810 million
  • Original operating budget proposal for 2016-17 (approved by the Board): $852.4 million
    • Increase of $42.4 million from current year
  • Revised 0perating budget proposal for 2016-17 (to match the Mayor’s recommended budget): $843.3 million
    • Increase of $33.3 million from current year
    • Reduced by $9.1 million from original operating budget proposal approved by the Board:
      • $1.62 million reduction in the EL expansion plan
        • Original expansion plan cost: $12.7 million
        • Revised expansion plan cost: $11.1 million
      • $2.25 million reduction in the Reading Recovery expansion plan
        • Original expansion plan cost: $8.97 million
        • Revised expansion plan cost: $6.72 million
    • $2.34 million in student-based budgeting reserves
    • $2.94 million in textbooks / science kits


EL Expansion Plan

  • After-school Tutoring – Tutoring will expand its reach from eight schools to 15 – instead of 21 as originally proposed.
  • EL Professional Learning – The district will spend $450,000 to expand EL professional development opportunities for teachers instead of $1.3 million as originally proposed.
  • Family & Community Literacy Nights – Community partners and educators will help families learn English and give more literacy opportunities to students. The district will fund one location instead of three as originally proposed.

Reading Recovery Expansion Plan

  • Reading Recovery Teachers – The district will hire 30 additional Reading Recovery teachers instead of the 48 originally proposed. The revised expansion plan will bring the 24 schools currently using the program to full Reading Recovery implementation and add an additional six elementary schools.
  • Part-time Reading Interventionists – The district is eliminating the addition of 15 part-time reading interventionists and will continue serving the same number of schools with the reading interventionists already on staff.
  • Summer School – The district is eliminating the $90,500 request for a new literacy summer school program at 10 elementary sites. Many of the students who would have been served by this program will benefit from the new EL summer program that remains in the EL services expansion plan.
  • Other Expenses – Funding for supplies/materials, contracted services and travel have been reduced from the original budget proposal by $430,848.

Student-Based Budgeting Reserves

  • Under the student-based budgeting model, school budgets are developed using projected student enrollment. The district sets aside extra funds to assist schools that enroll more students at the start of the year than expected.
  • The set-aside to cover increased student enrollment at individual schools will be $3 million instead of $5.3 as originally proposed.

Textbooks / Science Kits

  • The annual allocation for textbook purchases will be reduced. All required textbooks will still be purchased. However, this will limit the district’s ability to purchase textbooks for the 2017-18 school year during the 2016-17 fiscal year. Purchasing textbooks in advance with the prior year’s budget has been common practice since fiscal year funding becomes available only one month before the start of school.
  • The district will end its science kit program, where hands on science materials are shipped to schools. The science kits no longer align with state standards for science curriculum and have not been widely used.


BUDGET TALK: Here’s what we want to do to improve teacher pay

A major part of the budget we’re asking for next school year improves pay for teachers and staff.

What needs improving?

While our starting pay of $42,000 is very competitive with cities regionally and districts that are similar to our size nationwide, but the pay for teachers who are five-to-ten years into their career isn’t as competitive.

Improving teacher pay is part of a major focus to retain great teachers.

“We want to remove barriers that would encourage people to leave us. It’s a great place to put funding to make sure the salary scale meets the needs of teachers,” said Katie Cour, executive director of talent strategy for Metro Schools.

This year’s budget request calls for $10.25 million for teacher pay raises and $3 million for support staff.

Read more about the proposal by clicking here or reading below:

Another part of our budget improves how we support new teachers.

Over the summer, we’ll have our first New Teacher Academy that will welcome all new teachers to Metro Schools.

Developed and facilitated by teachers, the New Teacher Academy will focus on how strategies that will help teachers be successful on day one, and introduce new teachers to the unique and diverse aspects of our student population, with an emphasis the focus on setting high expectations for all students in our district.

“The purpose is to inspire our new teachers, share resources that are essential for the first week of school and give them opportunities to network and meet other teachers,” Cour said.

The other part of the New Teacher Academy delves into how Metro Schools defines great teaching and best practices for planning, communications and managing student behaviors. Cour says teacher support is critical for new teachers.

“You’re nervous already just being a new teacher. You don’t know how to navigate the systems and the culture and you need the tools and network to do well,” Cour said.

Part of supporting new teachers is giving them mentors, which is part of the district’s budget request.

Extra money will allow schools to create more opportunities for teachers to collaborate and take on more leadership roles.

“Dovetailing the support to new teachers is continuing the commitment for leadership opportunities for experienced teachers,” Cour said.

The budget includes $1.42 million for teacher leadership pay as part of a strategic way to recognize the role of teachers who take on mentoring, completing special projects, participating in leadership teams and other roles in the district.

“We recognize that most people go into teaching because they want to work directly with students and teach in the classroom. Some teachers want the desire to grow and we want to provide them with reinforcements in areas that can help their career but allow them to stay in the classroom,” Cour said.

Read more about our proposal for leadership stipends here or below:

We want to put more community services in more Metro schools


A Restorative Practices family support dinner  was held at Napier Enhanced Option Elementary school earlier this year to build school community. Events like these are part of engaging families for student success through the Community Achieves program.

From a homeless child needing shelter to a working family running short on food at home, Community Achieves programs use the Community School model to address the needs that can affect how students feel and perform at school.

Taking away these barriers is a team effort between school and community. Community Achieves acts a bridge with the resources and supports families need, connecting them to community partners, agencies and other services.

“Community Achieves identifies the wrap-around services needed to support students socially and emotionally as well as academically,” said Alison McArthur, Community Achieves coordinator for Metro Schools. “It supports a positive school climate and promotes improving the conditions for learning inside and outside of the school day.”

The $390,000 budget request for the 2016-2017 school year would expand Community Achieves sites from 20 to 23-26, depending on matching school funds. Every Community Achieves school is supported by a full-time site manager, therefore an expansion would require hiring more school-level staff.

The program has also reached a point where more district-level staff is required to support the site managers and help them coordinate community resources.

The success stories of Community Achieves are many as the program focuses on four key areas: family engagement, college and career readiness, health and wellness as well as social services.

Crisis intervention

Whether a student has housing can be a major factor for that student being able to focus and succeed at school. Rising rents in Nashville are presenting challenges as some families become at risk for homelessness as a result of Music City’s rapid growth.

When a landlord decided to stop taking Section 8 housing vouchers, for instance, Community Achieves was there. Convincing the landlord to extend the lease for an additional month to allow the family to find affordable housing made a big difference. Community Achieves site coordinators make relationships with families to know what is going on and when to advocate on their behalf.

“They get to know the families,” McArthur said.

One student at Pearl Cohn spoke of the impact a Community Achieves coordinator made in his life:

“Being a part of a CA school is great because I am an 18 year old senior and independent student and some things are hard for me to do. When I met Ms. Hill, I was homeless and struggling to get to school every day. Ms. Hill has helped me find housing and showed me how to get government assistance for food. I also was able to receive clothes and school supplies from our FRC. I can truly say without this wonderful school, I don’t know how this school year would’ve ended. I am excited to be graduating with my class this May.”

Enhancing community partnerships

“We have formed new partnerships that we didn’t have last year.”

Community Achieves site coordinators identify the gaps in services, capturing the opportunity to grow resources and collaboration.

This means convening community partners on a regular basis at the school level, and aligning everyone to be on the same page with school and district goals.

“They’re really able to serve more,” McArthur said.

Having a Community Achieves Office at Buena Vista allowed the school to implement enrichment programs to serve students outside the classroom in a new way. This year, they added programs from Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, Girls, Inc. and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Through these programs, we are providing socio-emotional support to 45 students through character-based extra-curricular education,” said Buena Vista Enhanced Option Elementary school Principal Michelle McVicker.

“Buena Vista’s Community Achieves office has identified new community partners to assist us with our greatest needs: school supplies and school uniforms. We have a new partnership with First Lutheran Church, who donated school supplies to each classroom, as well as over $200 worth of school uniforms for our clothing closet,” McVicker said. “Buena Vista has also partnered with the Nashville Sounds this year to provide new playground equipment for our students and our community. After collecting money throughout the Sounds fall season, the Community Achieves site Manager is working with the Sounds team to design our brand-new playground, which will be unveiled in the spring of 2016.”

With the help of Community Achieves, two of Buena Vista’s community partners, 15th Avenue Baptist Church and First Lutheran Church, worked together to sponsor a 4th grade field trip to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. See the photo from the trip below:

“We know that when students are given support and can be part of a culture and a community that they know is on their side, our children can be successful,” said Tony Majors, chief support services officer for Metro Schools. “To move Nashville’s youth forward, we look forward to partnering with the community on enhancing Community Achieves so that the program can continue to address the barriers youth face everyday.”

To view this year’s budget request for the Community Achieves, program, click here or view the proposal below:

So what is Metro Schools’ proposed budget for next year?


The budget process for the 2016-17 school year is underway. Between now and June, the Board of Education will discuss the budget proposal, vote on it and send it to the Mayor and Metro Council for consideration.

Here is a breakdown of what is under consideration.

Total Proposed Operating Budget: $852,500,500

  • Represents a 5.2% increase from the current year budget of $810 million
  • Reflects projected overall enrollment growth of around 2,200 students (including charter school enrollment)
  • Includes net increase of 253 full-time positions
  • Includes pay raises for all employees and a change in salary schedule for certificated employees

What’s are we proposing for next year’s budget?

Every year, one of the largest increases in the operating budget comes from required costs resulting from inflation and enrollment growth. Next year, Metro Schools expects to add 2,200 students, bringing district enrollment to approximately 88,000. Each new student entering school doors requires additional funding.

There are also increases in employee compensation and benefits due to inflation. Besides unavoidable increases like those, there are major district initiatives designed to better serve students that will require funding, as well.

More Help for English Learners

  • The Office of English Learners has proposed sweeping changes that include summer programs, tutoring, teacher training and mentors, community outreach, technology and dozens more teachers, among other things. These new programs will give English learners the support they need, while also better equipping Metro teachers to reach them academically. Altogether, it totals an investment of $12.7 million.

Expanded Literacy Program

  • Similarly, the district’s literacy plan is progressing with plans to expand. That expansion would include hiring nearly 50 more teachers and moving substantial expenses currently paid for by federal funds to the district’s recurring operating budget. This move will mean more stable and reliable funding for the literacy program, as well as freeing up more federal money for schools to spend on their own. The investment in literacy comes to $8.9 million.

More Pay for Teachers and Staff…

  • The current draft of the budget calls for $13 million to increase pay for all employees. The vast majority of that would go to teachers, in the form of step raises and a completely new salary schedule. The revised certificated salary schedule has not been finalized. We’re in the process of seeking input from various stakeholders, including MNEA.
  • All teachers will receive a pay increase, though amounts will not be the same across the board as they have been in years past. The pay increase teachers can expect will depend on their years of experience.
  • While we are competitive in starting teacher salaries, market data shows we’re not increasing teacher pay quickly enough during the first half of a teacher’s career to be competitive with how similar cities in our region pay more experienced teachers. The revised certificated salary schedule has not been finalized. We’re in the process of seeking input from various stakeholders, including MNEA.

…And More Pay for Teacher Leaders

  • Last year’s initiative to pay teachers more money for taking on leadership roles has proven successful. The district’s leadership pipeline continues to develop, with more teachers taking on more responsibility without having to leave the classroom. This allows schools to create innovative personnel structures that bring teachers together more collaboratively. The budget includes $1.42 million for teacher-leadership pay.

More Services for More Students

  • Finally, the success of Community Achieves means more schools will be given the opportunity to offer its wraparound service model to families. By adding four new school sites, and the four full-time positions needed to coordinate them, Community Achieves can serve more students. The cost of this expansion is $390,000.

With a foundational model centered squarely on funding schools equitably and empowering school leaders to make decisions on how to allocate their own resources, Metro Schools leaders are dedicated to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and for maximum student benefit.

By tying funding directly to student need, while also addressing some of the most pressing issues inside the district, the proposed budget moves the district forward in innovation and in fulfilling the initiatives of the district’s strategic plan.

View the 2016-2017 Budget Breakdown below or click here:

Budget Talk: How does the district office spend its money?

Student-based budgeting empowers principals  and gives schools direct control over more than half of the district’s $810 million operating budget to personalize learning and give every student a great public education.

But what about the rest of the money that’s left in the budget? Schools are not responsible for paying for everything that supports students in their buildings. Many services, like transportation, security, textbooks and others, are more efficient when funded and supplied centrally.


Once you take out the money that goes directly to schools, there’s about $356 million left. Of that, $73 million goes directly to charter schools, which, based on state law, receive the full funding we spend on average per student for each student they serve.

Another $9 million in revenue flows back to the city and state. And the remaining $274 million pays for centralized services for schools like buses, maintenance and technology. That $274 million may seem like a lot, but it covers a lot of ground.



The biggest piece – by far – pays for school bus transportation – more than $35 million. Another $31 million pays for electric bills, water bills and other utilities. Over $20 million is spent on custodial and grounds to keep school buildings clean. And another $18 million is spent on maintenance – things like air conditioning and roof repairs.

The rest goes to important services that benefit students, like technology , academic supports, substitute teachers, music education, advanced academics and a whole lot more. Even things that don’t go directly to students – like pension and benefits for teachers – are still there for their benefit.


Watch this video to learn how the district centralizes services for schools so principals can focus on what is most important: providing a great education for every student.

Budget Talk: How are Metro schools funded and how do they spend the money? Here’s how.

Metro Schools is one of the largest and most diverse school districts in America. It takes nearly 11,000 employees and countless community partners to educate 86,000 students in 166 schools. It also takes a large budget: more than $800 million, or 41 percent of the entire city’s operating budget.

We’re in the budgeting process for the 2016-2017 school year and we want you to know how schools and the district use taxpayer funds to give students a great education.

At the core of what we do, we believe instructional and support decisions should be made by the educators who know students best and see them every day. Rather than using a centralized, top-down approach, we give principals the authority to both design their own schools and decide how to use their resources to support them. We do it through a funding model called student-based budgeting.


With student-based budgeting, principals have direct control and authority over more than half of the district’s operating budget.

This means principals and school leadership teams can make their own major decisions like:

  • how many and what kinds of teachers to hire
  • whether to hire academic coaches to improve instruction
  • what extra supports their students need
  • how to offer tutoring
  • what kind of software will help improve literacy or math


“Student-based budgeting allows schools the flexibility to prioritize the needs of the school and community and spend funds accordingly,” said James Urquhart, principal of Norman Binkley Elementary School.  “One size does not fit all.”

The 2015-2016 school year marked the first year of district-wide implementation of student-based budgeting. This new way of funding schools supports the district’s strategic plan, Education 2018, by empowering principals and giving increased flexibility and discretion for personalized learning and student-centered decisions.

Student-based budgeting explained

Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) has two central components:

  1. Principals should have the flexibility to create personalized learning environments to meet their students’ individual needs.
  2. Resources should be provided equitably to schools based on the unique needs of those students.

In the 2015-16 school year, every student comes with a fixed amount of funding for his or her school — $4,250.


On top of that, we have identified student characteristics that are most directly tied to academic achievement and give schools extra money to serve those characteristics.

With that extra money, schools can give more resources to students who need extra support, like English Learners, students with special needs and students with a history of academic struggles. This ensures equitable funding that recognizes not all students are the same.

For example, an  student who is learning English comes with another 10 percent raise in funding. A student with a history of poor academic performance will need extra interventions and individual attention, so we add on another 5 to 10 percent, depending on the student’s grade level.

Taken on an individual basis, it may not seem like that much of an increase. But taken together as a school with hundreds or thousands of students, and suddenly principals could have much bigger budgets to use as they see fit.

In fact, when student-based budgeting went district-wide, 60 percent of schools saw more money per student than the year before. The other 40 percent received the same amount.

How do principals use the money?

Principals decide how many teachers they need based on their budgets, desired classroom ratios and the specializations they need. They can also choose to add more instructional support by hiring academic coaches, interventionists, classroom assistants and more.

“Allowing schools to use their funds for needs within their own school, we can cater the education for all students at a higher level than we have ever been able to do in the past,” said Clint Wilson, principal of Glencliff High School. “It has allowed us to hire additional teachers, thus reducing the teacher to student ratio in some math, English and ELL classes by over 30 percent. It also decreases past barriers of having to go to multiple channels to get what each school needs.”

Instructional materials.
Apart from people, principals have a wide variety of options available, including campus support, books and instructional supplies, software licenses, as well as extra money for teachers who take on leadership roles within the school.

“We are looking at ways to increase our students’ ACT scores. School-based budgeting allows me to allot funds to purchase practice ACT tests to use as pre-tests for the ACT for our juniors,” said Angela McShepard-Ray, principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School. “The funds also allow me to allot funds to pay for an official ACT report for each student that will be used with students to analyze their ACT results and what needs to be the focus of each student to improve his/her ACT score. The post test will be the test district purchases for each junior.”

For more on the Metro Schools budget process, visit this webpage.

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