Governor Bill Lee has proposed a new student-centered funding structure for education in Tennessee.
This new funding formula will abolish the old Basic Education Program (PEB) which had been in place since 1992 and which was not often updated. The Principal of Schools, Dr Grant Swallows, has informed the Education Committee and the County Budget and Finance Committee of the possible change in school funding.
âWe were hoping for an update to the BEP formula and instead of updating it the governor just said erase everything and make another formula. So that’s scary, but at the end of the day what they’re telling us is the possibility of making more money, âSwallows said.
He explained to the commissioners how the new formula would work if passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.
âThey want to shift it to what they call the student-centered model,â Swallows said. âA very brief overview is that they want to figure out what it takes to educate a child. What dollar figure it takes to educate a child. So if it is $ 8,000, then each student in the state of Tennessee will receive $ 8,000. From Bristol, to McMinnville, to Memphis, you’ll get $ 8,000. Now if you are special ed you get a percentage more. If you are economically disadvantaged you will get a little more. If you learned English you would have a little more. That is how it would be funded. “
Swallows says the first concern they have is that they don’t know much about what this will look like and whether there will be a tax increase and they fear this system will make school money more mobile. Swallows says Governor Lee is a supporter of charter schools and is concerned that money from public schools will be transferred to a private school.
âPublic education concerns are that it can make money more mobile. If I assign a figure of $ 8,000 to each student, which makes it a lot easier if a student leaves Warren County and goes to a charter school, we’ll in turn have to send that $ 8,000 to the school. ‘school they’re going to,’ Swallows said.
The school principal also spoke about the benefits of the potential funding formula, saying it could be a good thing for schools in Warren County.
“The benefits,” says the governor and the commissioner says this has happened in several states in the United States over the past two years and that they have never switched to this formula and have not given more money to school systems. We’re good with more money. It would help us if they increased the money they give for teachers’ salaries. Obviously, we know it and we need it. It needs to be increased, âSwallows said.
A major advantage of the proposed school funding formula is that the state seeks comments and contributions from anyone in Tennessee on the use of the funding. Swallows encourages everyone to give their opinion.
âThey’re just looking for comments. They won’t even discuss an area that isn’t listed in the comments. So if you think teachers should have higher salaries, then we have to stress that. I’m pretty sure the teachers are putting this in there, but at the same time they’re asking for feedback. If you think student school districts need to be funded for ORS in every school, we need to push that and as a school system we do, but the more we can get that out of the way, the better off we’ll be, âsays Swallows.
The state is looking to move forward quickly with this new formula if it is approved by the General Assembly, so nothing is guaranteed yet. They are still collecting information on this and Swallows will be attending a meeting on Wednesday to find out more.
To provide feedback to the state, the email is [email protected] Swallows also plans to distribute this information in an email to parents.