In a highly contentious school board and budget and finance committee meeting Monday evening, school leaders approved a newly-revised budget for the 2018-19 Metro school year.
Among the new developments include the elimination of 86.5 Reading Recovery positions — effectively ending the intervention program meant for students who aren’t reading at their grade level.
Those positions would be re-purposed as “literacy expert educators” and placed as teachers in K-2nd grade classrooms.
Metro Schools Superintendent Shawn Joseph said the move followed two studies that showed the benefits of the Reading Recovery program weren't being retained by some students over time.
School board member Jill Speering — a champion of the Reading Recovery program — criticized the proposal, calling Joseph’s plan a “vindictive” move made in response to Speering calling for an audit into Metro Schools spending.
Joseph denied that allegation.
Both the Metro Budget and Finance Committee and full School approved the budget by a vote of 7-2, with Speering and Amy Frogge as the only “no” votes.
Opponents of the budget called it an “eleventh hour” decision. Speering said she had received a full version of the budget just minutes before the budget committee meeting started.
Other budget revisions approved Monday by the school board include a 2.5 percent raise for employees, as opposed to the 2 percent raise originally offered.
Additionally, seven social worker positions that were slated to be on the chopping block were reinstated to the budget.
Metro Council must also approve the spending plan. Metro Schools will present the budget to Mayor David Briley on Wednesday.
The budget battle came amid questions first raised by NewsChannel 5 Investigates about the district’s spending and some questionable contracts.