NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Mayor John Cooper announced during his 2022 State of Metro address some major investments in education.
Cooper is proposing $91.2 million of new funding for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
This is a new record from last year's $81 million in funding — which included a historic teacher raise.
Cooper said this new investment will fund salary step increases and a 4% cost-of-living adjustment for MNPS support staff.
"It allows us to bring bus drivers up to competitive wages, fill the more than 150 bus driver vacancies and get every child to their seat by the morning bell for a full day of learning. Now for every parent who has had your morning disrupted by a late bus, this will help you," Cooper said.
The mayor is also proposing a pay increase for cafeteria workers and para-professionals.
"It is great to see a second straight year of big investments in MNPS and we look forward to seeing the details of what can be done to improve support staff pay." - Brad Rayson, President, SEIU Local 205.
Under this proposed budget, all MNPS employees will receive the paid family medical leave.
"Teachers and support staff should no longer have to choose between taking care of their own child and a career educating someone else’s. This is a landmark commitment towards elevating and respecting educators in Nashville," Cooper said.
Cooper said in the speech fixing the city's finances made this investment possible.
Director of MNPS Adrienne Battle expressed her support for the proposal in a statement
“We are incredibly grateful to Mayor Cooper for this historic commitment to the success of the students in Metro Schools. These funds will ensure that we can maintain and improve the quality of services throughout the district and show our staff that the city truly cares about their success.
“In addition to boosting pay for all team members by an average of 6%, these targeted investments will raise the level of pay for bus drivers to match the rate paid by WeGo, so that we can keep and hire more bus drivers so that students are picked up and dropped off on time. We will also be able to invest in our nutrition services staff and para-professionals who provide classroom support for teachers and students with exceptional needs by an average of several thousand dollars.
“We will also be able to implement a Paid Family Leave policy aligned with Metro Government that will ensure teachers and staff can take the time needed to care for a sick loved one or have a new child without worrying about their paycheck.
“We hope to have additional details available for staff, families, and the public in the coming days about how this investment will specifically impact them and their success at MNPS.”
Members of Metro Council will ultimately have to approve the plan.