That's the number Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash has burned into his brain -- 431,232,142 -- the one he recites from memory like Hurley, Lost's unlucky lottery winner.
"That's the figure the state expects and I haven't heard anything different," Cash says.
Cash has to submit his legal budget to the state October 1, 2009, but so far he's about $100 million short.
For years, the district has been funded by the county, local sales tax, and the city. But last year, the city cut the $66 million slated to go to the district, leaving the school system with a funding nightmare on its hands.
Under the "maintenance of effort" clause, the school system must be locally funded at the same level as the previous year. The cut sparked a lawsuit -- still unresolved -- about who exactly should make up the shortfall. The city argues that the money should come from the required local funder, the county.
But right now, Cash is looking for a solution to next year. The school system expects to be out of money August 1st.
"What can we do while we solve all the arguments? And there's a lot of arguments out there. If it's the city, the county, it doesn't matter to me," Cash says. "We just need this amount."
For more, visit Mary Cashiola's In the Bluff blog.