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Metro Schools crunching numbers for 2020, could be short on cash

Cursive could part of the lesson plans in Ohio schools. (WSBT)

Rasheedat Fetuga is a former Metro Schools teacher and a loving mom with two kids in the system, but she says there's something wrong.

“I feel sad for teachers and I feel sad for my kids,” said Fetuga.

It's because again, Metro Schools could be short on cash for 2020.

“We’ve already got schools that are under resourced and children that need books and supplies and materials and teachers who are spending money out of their own pocket to teach our children,” said Fetuga.

Metro Council members held a special called joint meeting with the budget and finance committee, education committee and the school board. In a proactive move, they started crunching numbers Thursday night for 2020.

“We’re all very cautious coming up into the new year,” said Councilman Brett Withers who is on the education committee.

So far, it looks like the 2020 budget will be tight or short of needed money. Two key factors are at play

First, student enrollment. Federal and state funds are tied to the number of students in the district. Last year, enrollment dropped and so did funding attached to it. Councilmembers say we're not on pace to increase enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year.

Then there are the taxes coming into the city - the second biggest money source for schools. Sales tax funneled through the city are a big player in funding the system. Councilmembers say they're keeping their fingers crossed. Withers says all the board in-fighting isn't helping their efforts to get funding.

“If we have a schoolboard that cannot raise legitimate concerns in a professional manner and all remain at the table then it makes the task of asking taxpayers or other departments to take a cut or raise taxes to give that board money. It makes that harder,” said Withers.

The other wildcard for 2020 will be the unanticipated and uncontrollable cost increases tied to teacher pensions and insurance. Last year, Withers said those costs spiked and they have not say-so in that. They did not account for that in budget projects. All of that uncertainty doesn't sit well with some parents.

“We pay taxes for the school system to be prepared so if I’m paying my tax money for them to be prepared and do the best job possible, and they’re not doing that along with all the back and forth and the bickering and the fighting, what am I paying my taxes for,” said dad Mark Lollis.

Dr. Joseph will present the MNPS 2020 budget request this spring.

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