As Metro Nashville Public Schools deals with a major budget shortfall, a new survey released Thursday morning shows a majority of Nashville residents support increasing school funding.
The citywide poll was conducted by ALG Research, on behalf of the Nashville Public Education Foundation. It surveyed 500 registered voters by phone between January 31 and February 6, 2018.
It found 81 percent of Nashville residents want more funding for public schools. They want that extra money to be used toward increasing teacher pay, early literacy programs, and Pre-Kindergarten programs, among other ideas.
The Nashville Public Education Foundation said MNPS currently spends $9,788 per pupil, which is half of what is spent per child at private schools The survey found 74 percent of parents believe that current funding is too low.
Those surveyed believe an increased budget could be used in a number of areas, however. That includes 86 percent who believe teacher's salaries should be increased, and 84 percent who think money should be spent to build new schools and improve current facilities.
"While more can and should be done to ensure money is well-spent and results in strong outcomes for kids, the reality is that there is recognition that funding is part of the equation," said Shannon Hunt, the president of the Nashville Public Education Foundation.
This survey comes out just weeks after MNPS learned it will have to make up for a surprise $7.5 million budget shortfall. The loss is blamed on a projected lower student enrollment.
In mid-March, the school board requested Metro Auditor Mark Swann to immediately audit all spending for the current and previous fiscal year. Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph said he would lay out his plans to save money at his annual "State Of The Schools" address at the end of March.
This is the first time the Nashville Public Education Foundation has conducted a citywide poll on education. The organization said it hopes to have a poll done every year to get an in-depth look at public perceptions of the city's public schools.