Metro, state to try high level meeting on funding loss - WKRN News 2

Metro, state to try high level meeting on funding loss

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The Metro School Board and the state of Tennessee could possibly meet by Friday to discuss an issue costing public schools millions of dollars.

The chair of the Metro School Board sent a letter to Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman Wednesday requesting a meeting for the two parties to discuss the state's decision to withhold $3.4 million in funding to the district.

Late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Metro School Board said Commissioner Huffman had responded to meet "as soon as possible."

A separate source close to the issue told Nashville's News 2 the meeting between just the two leaders is likely to take place as early as Friday.

"We [want] this meeting to see if we can resolve and find an alternative path for a resolution to this issue," Metro Schools spokesperson Meredith Libby told Nashville's News 2.

"We think its going to be best for the district, best for the state and best for the children of Nashville," added Libby.

After touting the local expansion of a BNY Mellon financial facility, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Governor Bill Haslam gave no indication they knew of the meeting plans between school board chair Mayes and Commissioner Huffman.

"I would not panic right now, there is a process right now the schools have to go through to handle this," indicated Mayor Dean.

All this follows the state announcement Tuesday to withhold what it termed "non-classroom administrative funds" during the month of October Tuesday after the school board twice denied Great Hearts Academies' application to open a charter school in Nashville.

Governor Bill Haslam maintained Wednesday the state "had no choice" but to withhold the money because the Metro School Board "did not follow the law" when the state Board of Education told members they had to approve Great Hearts charter.

In her letter Wednesday, Chairwoman Cheryl Mayes said she is "disappointed" at the "punitive" step toward Metro's 81,000 students and added the decision to deny Great Hearts was based on "legitimate concerns about the diversity plan, or lack thereof, put forward by Great Hearts."

She continued, "For us, 'diversity' is not a political term. Diversity is a real concern in our community, and we taken seriously our obligation to promote it.  While you assert the local school board broke the law, we were acting as duly-elected and duly-sworn public officials upholding the U.S. Constitution and its Equal Protection Clause."

Those kinds of words from the Metro School Board chair will likely be heard again by Commissioner Huffman meet privately about a very public issue.

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