City Council Seeks Financial Audit Of Metro Public Schools - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

City Council Seeks Financial Audit Of Metro Public Schools

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By Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nearly ever member the Metro Nashville City Council signed a letter to Mayor Karl Dean asking him to support their request for a performance audit of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The school district has not undergone a performance audit since 2001 and council members felt it was time to once again go through the process.

"We'll get to hear about what MNPS is doing well, and then we'll get to hear about things that maybe they need to improve on to raise our schools to the next level," Evans said.

Metro Council has no say in how the school board runs the district, but they do set the operating budget for schools.

"We're not responsible for how they spend the money, but we are responsible for making sure they are adequately funded. And that is the mayor's job, and that is the council's job," According to Evans.

The audit process is a mechanism afforded to council to ensure the district is efficiently using tax dollars.

"It's important we are justifying that expense to the best possible extent we can to our taxpayers," said Evans.

Mayor Karl Dean applauded Council's request for the audit, and said in part, "An audit should help pinpoint areas where investments are working, and areas where they are not."

Metro Nashville Public Schools director Jesse Register was not surprised by the Council's request for an audit. The topic came up during budgets hearing in June.

"We'll be glad to entertain, start a conversation with Metro Council. I think our budget and finance committee of our board will be very interested in talking to them about what they have in mind," Register said.

Metro's audit committee must approve the Council's request to perform the audit. Evans does not think there will be any issues getting that approval.

"I don't think so, given that it's been 13 years. I would hope that they would agree with us that it's probably time to do that," Evans said.

If approved the entire audit process could take up to six months. In 2001 it cost the city $500,000 to perform the audit. Taxpayer dollars covered half of that cost, while private donations paid for the other half. Evans is hopeful a similar arrangement can be worked out for this audit.

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