Jan 21 2013
09:20 pm

Betty reports in this week's Shopper News that "the state comptroller's office is pushing a bill called the County Financial Management System Act of 2013 that will move school and general government finance departments into the office of the County Mayor."

Burchett says he'd "like to have more control."

(Link takes you to both of Betty's articles this week. The first covers Bill Lyons' recent gig at the library speaking about Nate Silver--also a good read--and scroll down to the second on the subject of this pending finance bill, which follows.)

jcgrim's picture

Communities will lose their voice over local school decisions

If anyone says this move will improve your child's education do not believe them. School boards are the democratic means for parents and teachers to advocate for their children's schools. School board members must be responsive to families about nothing other than the details of schools in their purview unlike the county commission. This power grab means parents will have little transparency and reduced influence over local school funding decisions.

This is Kevin Huffman's ideal for TN. Remove local decision-making power of our public schools and move it towards a centralized, top-down autocrat who will do his bidding.

Shifting school board control of school finance decisions is step one for starving public schools and enriching privatized, unaccountable edu-preneures. Giving county mayors this level of increased control removes critical decision making power from elected school boards and opening us up for step 2- undemocratic mayoral appointed boards.

This ALEC/DFER devised plan is anti-democratic. It robs parents of their local voices. Say good-by to local school boards. Say hello to autocrats and billionaires making decisions about public schools who don't even send their own children to public schools.

Look at NYC, Chicago, Detroit, NEW Orleans for the model. Chicago's model is rife with cronyism, fraud, arbitrary uninformed decisions, made by individuals appointed (not elected)by the mayor who have no interest in the communities or the schools they serve. Huffman's dream scenario.

BTW, this is where Huffman sends his daughters to school in Nashville:

He doesn't propose we give all children the same school experiences his children are getting, does he?

PhilK's picture

What jcgrim said

This move has nothing to do with "improving your children's education".

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, that's my concern too, JC and Phil.

From a previous conversation we had here in May 2012, these are just some of the country's larger school systems that no longer have elected local school boards and are instead under mayoral control:

Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Hartford, CT
Los Angeles, CA
New Haven, CT
New York City, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Providence, RI
Washington, DC

Discussions are now (or were recently) underway on establishing mayoral control in these larger school systems:

Atlanta, GA
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Milwaukee, WI
Newark, NJ
Peoria, IL
Rochester, NY

In most of the cities in which the mayor already has control, he appoints both a superintendent and a school board (so it isn't particularly clear what authority those school boards actually have--but it's scarce little).

Mello's picture

I'm not seeing what you all are seeing....

With all due respect guys, I am not seeing how this impacts local education decisions. I read the version put out last Oct and it really does appear to be an accounting issue.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


The bill under consideration this session, of course, hasn't yet been filed.

I linked Betty's article primarily as a "heads up," since for whatever reason Tim Burchett seems to think this session's proposal would give him "more control."

Guess we won't be able to say yea or nay until we see the full text of the bill once it's filed--but Burchett appears to know something about it, a;ready.

Mello's picture

the copy I read-

is on the Blount County website. I am guessing that Randy Vineyard is the one who made the highlights and comments.

It really looks like a battle of getting rid of the Budgeting/Acts of 1957 and Fin Mgt system of 1981. It gives both the county highway super and school director a seat on the county budget committee. And it brings in the 1993 rules that allow a school to operate on the previous year's budget if the commission does not pass the newly proposed budget.

Pam Strickland's picture

No, Burchett would like for

No, Burchett would like for Knox County to be included, but as it's written it's not because it's got a local charter.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Pam, you raise another quesiton I had: Burchett tells Bean that he'd "like to see Knox County added," but is that possible, since Knox is a home rule county?

Maybe our local charter would be trumped, since our local term limits referendum that would have afftected school board members, too, was trumped by state law AND since a prior attempt by commission to elect our super just here in Knox was thought to be an act that would be trumped by state law, too (or so commissioners were advised by the law director, back in 2003-ish)?

Not sure how our status as a home rule county plays into this bill's any passage, even if it should prove to be ominous...

(Gone again.)

cwg's picture

What Betty is reporting on

What Betty is reporting on won't affect Knox County at all. She makes that pretty clear.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Of course, I'll defer to Betty on that point, Cari.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to interpret this:

It is a local option bill, which means counties can opt in by a 2/3 vote of county commission. It is not drafted to include Knox or other counties with a charter, and it has not yet been filed...

...Mayor Tim Burchett likes the idea and wishes the bill included Knox County.

“I’d like to have more control,” he said. “Currently (the school system) has control of 62 percent of the budget, but unfortunately, this bill won’t apply to us unless the sponsor of the bill added us to it. And even if it did pass, I don’t see county commission having the will to take on the sheriff and the school board, even though we have one of the finest finance departments in the country.

My understanding is that Burchett would like to see the sponsor of the bill add Knox County, although he's unsure that 2/3 vote of commissioners to "opt in" is possible?

Is this how you read it, Cari? Others?

(Out now, but will check in later today.)

R. Neal's picture

What Betty is reporting on

What Betty is reporting on won't affect Knox County at all.

As it stands now. Will have to see the bill as filed, amended, etc. Burchett is lobbying for it.

ETA: And there's nothing at all wrong with being vigilant about attacks on public education, which frequently start by nibbling away around the edges.

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