By Pride Newsdesk
Mayor David Briley announced on Monday that all MNPS teachers and employees will receive another three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on January 1, 2020, in addition to the three percent COLA the mayor made possible by allocating nearly $30 million in new funding for schools for FY2020. This allocation was six times the allocation in the last budget.
For weeks, the mayor has been working to find ways to get teachers more money this year while avoiding a tax increase. Thanks to MDHA’s help and the work done by the Council’s Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee, Mayor Briley is able to free up $7.5 million that would have been paid out of the MNPS budget to repay TIF loans. These funds are recurring, so the raise is ‘paid for’ moving forward. This move does not require Council action since it will simply result in a reduced expenditure for MNPS.
This will bring all teachers to a 6% raise on January 1, 2020, which equates to a 4.5% increase over the course of the year. This is .5% higher than the COLA increase in the proposed substitute budgets that would have raised property taxes.
“I have been working on the MNPS budget with Dr. Battle and Dr. Gentry, trying to find the best possible way to get recurring dollars to teachers while not penalizing the 40% of MNPS teachers who are ‘topped out’ and while avoiding a property tax increase this year—something that would have hurt in-county teachers more than the proposed raises would have helped,” Mayor Briley said. “With this increase in place, we will continue our in-depth talks about comprehensive pay plan restructuring for teachers so the more than half of all teachers who are topped out of receiving meaningful increases will get them in future years. There’s work to be done, but this is an important first step.”
This plan has the support of MNPS School Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry and MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle.
“Mayor Briley’s investment shows a deep commitment to our teachers and staff members, and we thank him for his leadership and support for public education,” Dr. Battle said.
“When Mayor Briley saw an opportunity for supplemental revenue, he ensured that it was dedicated to funding a raise for staff members, which is in addition to the raise they are receiving at the start of the year. We are only as successful as our amazing staff, and the Mayor’s actions show how he values them. Our goal is that these resources also ensure that we are able to maintain funding for other new strategic investments. MNPS is thankful to partner with the Mayor and Metro Council who are dedicated to the success of our students and staff.”
The $7.5 million will come to schools in the form of a reduction in the $11.2 million they would otherwise have paid to MDHA for TIF loan repayments this year. In short, it cuts that bill by $7.5 million, freeing up those funds for raises. MNPS will continue to pay what it is required to pay MDHA each year.
“I am grateful to Dr. Adrienne Battle, the MNPS Board, MDHA and the members of the TIF Study and Formulating Committee, whose hard work and support made this additional COLA possible,” Briley said. “I plan to keep at it, and I know we have more great things to come for all students and teachers in our schools.”
Clemmons: Briley’s attempt to appease teachers falls flat
Says Nashville’s teachers deserve better
State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a candidate for mayor of Nashville, released the following statement regarding the Briley Administration’s most recent example of fiscal mismanagement:
“Today, we have witnessed yet another hollow attempt at political preservation disguised as a good faith attempt to provide our teachers with much-needed raises. While I appreciate that our mayor finally acknowledges the detrimental impact his lack of leadership is having on our teachers, we should call this announcement of a fiscally questionable plan right before early voting starts what it really is: the last gasp by a mayor in a tailspin. MNPS leadership’s last-minute receipt of this plan demonstrates the lack of transparency and patchwork policy-making that has defined this administration since day one.
“Briley has now had two budgets and multiple opportunities to make fundamental, fiscally responsible budgetary changes in Metro that could have directly benefited our schools and teachers for the benefit of students. Unfortunately, he repeatedly kicked the can down the road, costing our teachers a better quality of life and our students two years of fully funded educational opportunities. This mayor has lost the confidence of teachers, public school parents, and advocates across Nashville, and they will see right through his ploy to try and buy their votes with Metro’s credit card.
“These desperate acts by a desperate politician trying to get reelected will ultimately cost our city and taxpayers more money. We’ve seen numerous eleventh-hour policy proposals out of the mayor’s office over the last six months, designed to appease specific constituencies rather than create real, substantive change. Nashville deserves a mayor who will partner with all stakeholders, engage the community, and make the tough decisions necessary to move our city forward in a substantive manner. Under no circumstances should teachers and Nashville residents be used as pawns for a failing reelection campaign.”
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.