Metro schools looking at budget cuts in light of pandemic

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Nashville Public School leaders are trying to manage the financial implications of COVID-19.

“We understand the financial position that Metro government and all of us are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of our economic engine,” MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle said during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

She said district leaders have identified significant cuts that can be made from the budget to fill the deficit between the budget proposed by Metro finance as the state minimum, and the budget truly needed to maintain the status quo of operations at MNPS.

“We’ll also be able to reduce about $3.5 million through consolidations of under-enrolled schools and closure of The Cohn School which would allow us to focus our attention and resources in a way that will improve student outcomes if approved by the board,” said Dr. Battle.

The reductions being proposed so far total about $10 million in spending or future reductions, but Dr. Battle said that is not enough.

“We should prepare ourselves for the reality that if we have to reduce our budget by another $15M on top of the $10M we are proposing today, cuts will likely impact school budgets if we don’t get the revenue necessary to offset the costs,” said Dr. Battle.

District leaders are working to protect the Cost of Living Adjustment for employees.

“Eliminating the COLA isn’t an option we’re prepared to consider. We’ll have to find those savings in other areas,” said Dr. Battle. “Let’s be clear. We long ago moved past the fat in the MNPS budget and deep into the meat. We’re getting closer to the bone.”

Their goal is to get the MNPS budget closer to the $915 million allocated in Metro’s budget proposal. Dr. Battle added that MNPS leaders thought they might be able to use savings from this year to offset costs in next year’s budget but after conversations with Metro finance this week, they have not been able to find a solution to close the gap just yet.

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

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