There's a persistent disagreement between Nashville Mayor David Briley and Director of Schools Shawn Joseph: The mayor did not include the full funding request from the schools in his proposed budget, and recently issued statements from the two leaders show they're at odds.
In last week's State of Metro speech at the Nashville Public Library, the mayor made a point of thanking the schools director and all district staffers — and there was applause. But other than highlighting a $400,000 pre-K enrollment program, the main message from David Briley was one of fiscal restraint.
“We can't do everything that Dr. Joseph and the board asked for, and frankly, I would have liked to be able to do that," Briley said. "That's one of my biggest frustrations in this year's budget."
A written response followed from Shawn Joseph, in part praising the mayor — but also characterizing the budget allocation as $17 million short on mandatory expenses.
"I commend the Mayor for halting the practice of using our cash reserve for recurring expenses, a tough step but one that is critical to the city's fiscal health," he said. "Unfortunately, the resulting proposed $5 million budget allocation from the city will leave Metro Schools with $17 million dollars in unfunded mandatory expenses, and so represents a $17 million dollar cut from current funding levels."
That will mean a halt to new programs and deferred teacher pay raises, Joseph said. He warns that attracting and retaining staff could also be a challenge.