Education Committee Members Talk Budget, Student Achievement

educationcommitteeaugustThe Chamber's Education Committee recently reconvened for their first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Special guest Chris Henson, chief financial officer and interim director of MNPS, provided an overview of MNPS' $810 million operating budget and explained the concept of student-based budgeting (SBB).

As opposed to the traditional funding model, which distributes resources to schools in the form of staff and dollars designated for specific purposes, SBB allocates money to schools based on the number of enrolled students. Each student receives a funding "weight" based on need.

The overarching goal of SBB is to increase equity, transparency and flexibility in the MNPS budget. In the SBB model, students are funded equitably regardless of which school they attend, and principals are empowered to personalize their school design and innovate.

Also at the meeting, Dr. Julie McCarger, MNPS director of federal programs and grants, explained the breakdown of funding the district receives from programs such as Title I and Race to the Top. In all, MNPS is projected to receive more than $77.9 million in federal and grant funding in the 2015-2016 school year.

Finally, Dr. Paul Changas, MNPS executive director of research, assessment and evaluation, provided highlights of student achievement in the 2014-2015 school year, including:

  • MNPS remains in good standing with the Tennessee Department of Education by meeting the majority of its accountability targets for all students for the fourth straight year.
  • The district met 10 of 11 targets for overall achievement – its highest number yet.
  • District increases in proficiency in 2015 significantly exceeded statewide high school results in most areas, and were about twice the rest of the state in four tested subjects.
  • MNPS had 14 schools identified as "Reward" schools – schools in the top 5 percent statewide for achievement and/or growth.

Our 40 committee members were engaged and eager to provide feedback during this informative meeting. The committee is looking forward to an active and productive year; future meetings will examine topics such as MNPS teacher recruitment and retention, legislative issues concerning education, and following up on the recommendations from the Chamber's 2014 Education Report Card.

2015-2016 Education Committee Chair Becky Kantz, The Leading Edge


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