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Nashville Scene » The Places No One Lives
1 day 42 min ago

DeBerry thought for-profit charter bill would die

A push to allow three new charter schools a year to hire for-profit companies to run their schools won a narrow 8-7 victory in the House Education Committee Tuesday.

Going into today’s committee meeting, Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, thought the bill would likely die if put to a vote. He had resolved to delay the measure for a week, he said, adding “I know for a fact going in I probably didn’t have the votes.”

Under the bill, local school districts would have the final say over whether a charter school can hire the outside help from a for-profit management company. DeBerry argues the shift would allow schools to contract out what they need, not unlike contracts state or local governments engage in.

Before voting, the committee agreed to cap the reach of the bill. The measure now limits a total of three charters per year statewide to contract with for-profit school operators. The limit would hold for five years, allowing three new charter schools to ask the district for that option each year.

The bill now heads to the House floor. The version is different from the Senate, which never debated possible caps. The Senate bill also awaits a floor vote.

Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, is wary operators will be more profit-driven and less focused on students. “They’re contracting out the entire operation of the school, not just the lunch room, not just the bus service, not just landscaping. The entire operation and that’s the distinction,” he said.

Apr 1, 2014 5:45 PM

Riebeling: City's credit rating is fine

Despite the downgrade by Moody's, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling says all is well:

"I would point out that Nashville's bond rating is now exactly where it stood when Mayor Dean took office in 2007 as the rating was upgraded in April 2010 when Moody's undertook a ratings methodology analysis," he says. "I would strongly suggest that Nashville is in the same, if not better, financial condition today than it was in 2010 when the ratings upgrade occurred."

Apr 1, 2014 2:45 PM

Charter authorizer bill in jeopardy?

The House hits pause on Speaker Beth Harwell's bill giving the Board of Education power to authorize charter schools after an interesting House vote and news of the governor's budget cuts hit the skids in the lower chamber.

Apr 1, 2014 2:00 PM

Naifeh for the TVA?

Ever wonder what Jimmy Naifeh is up to? Your answer soon may be "sitting on the TVA board."

Apr 1, 2014 12:11 PM

Flinn's in again

Memphis radiologist and radio station owner George Flinn says he'll challenge Lamar Alexander in the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Apr 1, 2014 11:32 AM

It's from the earth

Industrial hemp legislation gets high marks in the House, passing 88-5.

Apr 1, 2014 8:59 AM

House Republicans fume over Gov's budget cuts

House Republicans steamed the governor outlined his budget cuts to the media before briefing legislators sounded off in a GOP Caucus meeting Monday night, weighing their options to avoid cutting raises for state workers and teachers and raiding funds in the governor's signature community college proposal to offset higher ed cuts.

Five things to know about the governor's budget cuts here.

Rep. Joe Carr, of Lascassas, wondered aloud whether lawmakers can take money the governor wants to use to fund the Tennessee Promise free community college plan toward offsetting reductions in higher education. And Rep. Matthew Hill, of Jonesborough complained that promising teachers and state employees raises then not delivering will make it difficult for lawmakers with primary election challengers to vote for the budget.

"Any time you make tentative promises about pay raises and they don't come through, of course everyone's frustrated. I'm sure the governor's frustrated, too,"  Rep. Glen Casada, GOP Caucus Chairman later told reporters.

Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, who knew details of cuts the administration plans to unveil today, threw cold water on suggestions from the 71-member caucus' meeting to thwart the governor's community college plan. Sacrificing pay raises represents one of the largest cuts the state can use to bridge the budget gap, he said, and funding for the governor's Tennessee Promise plan can only be used in limited ways.

"We're not funding any museums this year or anything like that," said Sargent who said none of the special funding requests lawmakers have asked for will make it into the budget. Lawmakers typically build at least some local projects into the budget, like two years ago when Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wanted to help fund the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

It's up to the legislature to decide how to spend the state's money, Casada told reporters. "I think you're going to see a lot of members looking at the budget a little bit closer, trying to come up with ways to maybe fund some of these pay raises. Because it's important to us that we give something to state employees and teachers, they are the folks that make the state run."

Apr 1, 2014 8:30 AM

Documents show VW incentives linked to union process

Phil Williams has documents.

Marked confidential, it offers Volkswagen incentives of some $300 million -- in exchange for 1,350 full-time jobs at a new SUV facility.

The catch?

"The incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee."


Apr 1, 2014 6:41 AM

Ophelia Ford getting an opponent?

A Memphis councilman has pulled a petition to take on Sen. Ophelia Ford in the Democratic primary.

Mar 31, 2014 2:55 PM

Whoops of the week

Johnson City reversed a law banning "air guns, slingshots, paintball guns and other such projectile-launching devices" that had been on the books for nearly three decades because it had been in violation of federal law for 24 years. Cities aren't permitted to legislate such bans, though they are permitted to regulate the sale and use by minors.

Mar 31, 2014 2:22 PM