Wednesday, January 30, 2008
School board asks mayor to help find Garcia's replacement
Some on the school board wary of idea for selecting new schools director By JAIME SARRIO • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • January 30, 2008 Read Comments(2)Recommend Print this page E-mail this article Share this article: Del.icio.us Facebook Digg Reddit Newsvine What’s this? Metro school board members voted 7-2 on Tuesday to request the mayor's help to find a temporary and permanent replacement for former Director of Schools Pedro Garcia. It isn't clear what the mayor's involvement would be, though most board members made it clear that they did not want him to have all the power in selecting a new director. The motion comes less than a week after the mayor met privately with individual board members and as more people in Nashville are calling for drastic changes to fix problems in the school system. "It's not a new thing for the mayor to be involved in the process," said Ed Kindall, who represents north Nashville and voted in favor of the motion. "But this does not in any way relinquish the authority or legal duty of this board." Not all board members were comfortable with a formal vote to include the mayor. David Fox, who last week said he wants the mayor to disband the board and appoint new school representatives, voted against the motion because it was "open-ended." "I think it would be a bad idea to do anything to expose the board to a loss of control and further blurring what are blurred lines of funding authority and accountability," said Fox, who represents the Hillsboro area. Karen Johnson, who represents Antioch, introduced a motion that called for the involvement of voters in addition to the mayor, but it was voted down in favor of the original motion, made by board member George Thompson. Tennessee law says the school board has sole authority to appoint the director. The board is to meet with the mayor today to discuss education issues. Get draft of budget At Tuesday's meeting, the board got the first draft of the 2008-09 budget. Metro schools will need $19.2 million more than this year's budget just to keep things as they are now, according to the $616.8 million proposal for the next fiscal year. An additional $13 million will be needed to help the school pass testing standards under No Child Left Behind. The $19.2 million would be 3.2 percent more than the current budget. It includes money for pay raises, to open a new high school and avoid cutting any programs. It does not include salary increases for support staff. The additional $13 million would finance several new positions, including more teachers for English language learners and more literacy and math coaches. But because the district doesn't know how much money it will get from the federal, state or Metro governments, it's hard to say what the final budget will look like by the time it is approved this summer, said Chief Financial Officer Chris Henson, who is serving as interim schools director. "We have not received any revenue projections at this point from the Metro finance or from the state Department of Education," Henson told the board of education. Much of the district's funding will be dedicated to helping Metro Nashville schools meet No Child Left Behind standards, something that hasn't happened in four years. Funding will also be determined by the results of a state audit of the district, which began this week. The school board must turn over its final budget to the mayor's office by March. A public hearing will be held Feb. 12, and the board is tentatively schedule to vote on the budget Feb. 26.
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