Nashville public schools board lists four properties as surplus to help fill $13 million budget hole
This is a corrected version. The Brookmeade property is located at 1015 Davidson Drive.
The Nashville public schools board wants to sell four properties to make up a portion of its $13 million budget hole, a unanimous decision that came after a heated discussion over a fifth property some members wanted to sell.
Metro Nashville Public Schools, under the city’s 2018-19 budget, was expected to sell some of its property to find money to operate or risk slashing operating expenses.
The Nashville Metro Council will need to approve the sale of the properties. The properties are:
- 11.73 acres of vacant land at 0 Brick Church Pike, appraised at $720,000.
- A vacant 0.75 acres parcel at 2795 Pennington Bend Road, appraised at $56,000.
- The former Brookmeade Elementary School property at 1015 Davidson Drive, appraised at $3.29 million.
- And the former Hickman Elementary School site at 3125 Ironwood Drive, appraised at $1.32 million.
Although the decision was unanimous, it came after a failed vote and amendments to which board member Amy Frogge argued against.
The heated decision focused on whether to exclude a 198-acre portion of the 273-acre Hope Park site purchased recently for a new Hillwood High School. The property, located at 8001 Highway 70 S., was purchased for $10.2 million.
Before the eventual vote on the four properties, the board voted down selling all five. That was preceded by failed amendments on that vote.
Frogge repeatedly said council members had concerns about listing the Hope Park property as surplus. She also raised questions about whether funds from a sale could be included to pay for the district’s operations due to money owed from purchasing the property.
“I don’t know what the political ramifications are,” she said. “Please support the people in my district and allow them to weigh in.”
Board member Will Pinkston, who supported selling the property, said it was land that the district Metro Parks was supposed to help purchase for a park.
His proposal to allow a Metro Nashville agency right of first refusal on the property failed.
“This is to get it off our books,” he said to board members.
The board decided not to surplus two other properties during previous committee meetings. They are:
- The former Murrell School property at 1400 14th Ave. S.
- The former Walter Stokes Middle School property at 3701 Belmont Boulevard.
The need to sell the properties has frustrated school board members who said the city, which funds the district, put the school system in a poor position.
Board members have repeatedly said selling the district’s real property to fund its operations is a bad practice.
But it won’t be an option the Mayor and council can recommend to the board in the future. The Metro Council voted last week to prohibit the sale of real property to pay for annual operating expenses.
Instead, under the ordinance, any proceeds from sales of city-owned property would have to go toward paying off the city’s debt.
Protests against Shawn Joseph
As well, earlier in the night, a group of about 10 showed with signs calling for Director of Schools Shawn Joseph to be fired or resign.
Several addressed the board during the public comment period who addressed the board about their concerns.
Kelly Watlington said she has serious concerns about the finances of the district under Joseph. She asked for the board to fire the director.
Susan Sasser, who signed up to talk about the state of the district, said teachers are leaving the district due to Joseph and his administration. She said many feel disrespected by him and asked that he resign.[Read more at the Tennessean]