Statement from Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register on the failure of tuition equality

Dr. Register issued the following statement after the failure of HB 675:

“Today the Tennessee Legislature denied deserving young people across Tennessee the ability to improve their futures. Without the same opportunities given to their peers, young new Americans will continue to struggle in trying to attend college.

“It is a shame that our students, sitting in the gallery as this vote took place, had to witness such a lack of leadership in our state lawmakers. They have been deeply engaged in this process from the beginning, a testament to their desire for access to higher education and their dedication to civic engagement.

“Nashville is by far the city with the largest number of new American students in Tennessee, and this decision will have a tangible impact on our city as a whole. By essentially blocking their way into college, we are hampering their advancement in our community.

“We are thankful for the 49 members of the House who voted in favor of this, as well as bill sponsors Rep. Mark White and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, and especially grateful to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition for leading this effort. We look forward to another vote on this matter next year and hope our state leaders will do the right thing for these students and their futures.”

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Board Chair Cheryl Mayes invites Commissioner Kevin Huffman to discuss HB702

Board Chair Cheryl Mayes has called a special School Board meeting to discuss House Bill 702 that would overhaul the State’s charter schools appeals process and the proposed amendment to restrict this legislation to five counties. A motion will be made to suspend the rules so appropriate actions may be taken by the Board.

Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has been invited.

Watch the meeting live-blog on Monday, April 1, at 3:30 p.m.

Dear Commissioner Huffman:

On behalf of the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, I am writing to invite you to join members of the school board, the Metro Council and the Davidson County legislative delegation for a specially called meeting on Monday, April 1, at 3:30 p.m. to discuss House Bill 702, which would overhaul the state’s charter schools appeals process. This meeting will be held in the Board Room at Metro Nashville Public Schools, 2601 Bransford Avenue.

After working in good faith for weeks to reach a consensus with House Speaker Beth Harwell and representatives from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and the Tennessee School Boards Association, we were surprised to hear of your last minute objections to the fiscal reassurances we requested. We believe the legislation, as amended in the House Budget Subcommittee, poses significant fiscal risks for Metro Nashville Public Schools and Davidson County taxpayers. Moreover, the bill appears to be constitutionally suspect due to the fact that it is drawn narrowly to focus only on the school districts in Nashville and Memphis.

In the spirit of collaboration, we would like to meet for an open and unvarnished conversation in hope of resolving our differences over this legislation and moving forward for the benefit of Nashville’s students and families. Please let me know if you are able to join us for a discussion about House Bill 702 and its impact on our $720 million operating budget, which accounts for 42 percent of the total Metro government budget.

Earlier this week, Governor Haslam noted that he is seeking fiscal assurances from the federal government in order to prevent Medicaid expansion from bankrupting Tennessee’s budget. MNPS is simply asking for the same kind of assurances to keep the proposed state charter appeals process from destabilizing our local budget. We know you agree that a stable, predictable appeals process is in everyone’s best interest – including prospective charter operators as well as existing charter schools and traditional schools that could be affected by this measure.

Thank you for your consideration. We hope to see you Monday afternoon.

Sincerely,

Cheryl D. Mayes, Chair
Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education