by Steven Hale
In a letter to Metro's Audit Committee, 36 members of the Metro Council have requested a performance audit of Metro Nashville Public Schools "for the purpose of informing our funding decisions in FY 2015 and beyond."
Led by Council members Emily Evans, Anthony Davis and Jacobia Dowell, the same members also signed a letter to Mayor Karl Dean asking him to support their request.
In their letter to the Audit Committee, the council members note that it has been 13 years since such an audit was conducted. They propose that a new audit be performed by "a contractor selected through a competitive process who has the experience and expertise for such an undertaking." They go on to propose areas the audit should focus on, including "an analysis of total education spending at MNPS" as well as "an assessment of the charter school budget allocation and its impact on the resources available to non-charter schools."
The audit request comes on the heels of a report by the Beacon Center critical of how much education spending goes to administrative costs in Tennessee and a Scene report which detailed MNPS' response to the Tribal Group's criticism of the system's bureaucracy.
The school board also has become increasingly skeptical of the costs associated with charter schools.
Writing to the mayor, noting that "this project is a major undertaking," they propose that Metro pursue a funding arrangement whereby 50 percent of the cost of the audit would come from Metro's General Fund and the other 50 percent would come from private donations.
Read both letters here.
Update: A statement from the mayor:
"I applaud the Metro Council for being proactive in requesting a full audit. With an annual budget of over $700 million, schools receive more tax dollars than any other part of our local government. An audit should help pinpoint areas where investments are working and areas where they are not, so that we can direct resources where they will have the greatest impact on student achievement."