MNPS Board Member Will Pinkston offers some thoughts on the fiscal impact of Nashville’s Charter Sector and makes a plea for the reasonableness of slowing their growth in a recent op-ed in the Tennessean.
Here are some key takeaways:
MNPS is ranked 54th out of 67 urban school systems in America in per-pupil funding.
Due in part to inadequate state funding, we trail school systems in Atlanta, Charlotte and Louisville, among others.
A recent analysis of teacher pay across urban districts similar to Nashville found the city’s teacher lag behind their peers, especially in Louisville — a city of similar size and cost-of-living.
Pinkston notes that charter expansion is expensive — and while he doesn’t say so explicitly, the question is: Is continued expansion of charters the best use of Nashville’s education dollars:
The school board took a fiscally conservative position. With 8,157 seats currently in the charter pipeline — including more than 1,000 yet-to-be-filed seats belonging to KIPP — that’s a total future annual cash outlay of $77.5 million.
What KIPP wants to do — expand the pipeline to more than 9,000 seats — would take our future annual cash outlays up to $85.5 million. None of this includes the $73 million in annual cash outlays for charter seats that already exist.
In short, there are lots of charter seats now and a lot more coming online even if MNPS doesn’t approve a single new charter application. These schools are a fiscal drain on MNPS. In some cases, this may be a worthy investment. But, Nashville residents should consider if they want a tax increase to support charter expansion OR if they believe any new money coming from a state school funding lawsuit should be directed at charter expansion rather than other education initiatives.
More from Will Pinkston:
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