It's still anyone's guess what a more than $3 million cut will mean for students at Metro Nashville Public Schools.
The state announced Tuesday it will withhold that amount as punishment for Metro school board members' refusal of a new charter school.
"We don't have a bucket of unused money. We don't have $3.4 million. It is a lot of money. It works out to more than $40 per student," said MNPS spokeswoman Meredith Libbey.
The state said Tuesday they made the decision after the school board refused to follow Tennessee's charter school law in its meetings on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.
Great Hearts Academies had wanted to open five charter schools in Metro, starting with a west Nashville location. However, its application was denied repeatedly by the school board even after the state had mandated they approve.
The school board argued Great Hearts didn't offer an adequate plan for diversity or transportation.
Chris Henson, Metro schools' CFO, said it is too early to say where cuts will be made, but considering staff are the biggest expense he said jobs could be on the line.
"We're looking at positions. I don't know if we're looking at layoffs. We may be looking at freezing positions. We've done that in years past," Henson said. "We'll be thoughtful. We won't make a quick decision."
The school board could also vote to use some of the almost $55 million sitting in reserves, or the unlikely move of asking the city for the money.
Mayor Karl Dean, who supported Great Hearts, made it clear Wednesday the ball is in the school board's court.
"They need to make a plan, and I'm happy to hear what it is. But this was an issue created in the schools, and they need to come up with a plan," Dean said.
In a letter released Wednesday, school board chair Cheryl Mayes said she is hoping the state will changes its mind and not withhold the money. She also asked the state education commissioner to revisit the matter and avert this action.
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