State makes good on promise to withhold MNPS funding - WKRN News 2

State makes good on promise to withhold MNPS funding

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

The state has followed through with its decision to withhold $3.4 million from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The Tennessee Department of Education made the decision last month after the Metro School Board voted 5-4 to not approve the Great Hearts charter school application.

The state warned Metro the money would be withheld on October 15.

"I think it's sad that the governor has made the decision to choose politics over funding our schools," said Chelle Baldwin, an MNPS parent with two children in elementary school.

"Absolutely they're being punished," added Baldwin, "they're going to go without in some way shape or form and that's completely unnecessary. Other things could've been done to prevent this."

In an email statement, Metro schools told Nashville's News 2, "We are concerned about the effect of this reduction and how we will address this shortfall in the middle of the school year.  We intend to be good stewards of the public money and to make thoughtful, deliberate decisions in an effort to minimize the penalty's effect on the children in our schools."

The Tennessee Department of Education countered, "The $3.4 million is the non-classroom component of October's Basic Education Program (BEP) payment. This is a one-time penalty."

Even though the money was designated for "non-instructional" funding, many parents don't believe their children won't be impacted.

"Considering that the money could be used for good things in Metros schools, it's kind of disappointing," said Liz Eskridge, who also has two children who attend MNPS elementary schools.

"Where do you go moving forward?" Baldwin asked. "How do you know you're not going to be punished again?"

When you divide $3.4 million among 81,000 Metro school kids, it breaks down to about $42 per child.

Baldwin said her family is donating that money to her children's school, to make up for the state's decision.

"The kids need that money," she said.  "There's no such thing as money that's not going to adversely affect the kids by not having it. If they didn't need it, then why have it in the first place?"

Metro schools told Nashville's News 2 there will not be a hiring freeze because of the penalty.

School officials also said they are concerned about how the $3.4 million amount was determined and whether it's consistent with other penalties given by the state.

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