Zero Percent of Tennessee School Leaders Want to Keep Current Funding Formula, New Poll Says


The local officials who lead public schools throughout Tennessee said in a new poll that they want state officials to overhaul the state’s current school funding framework.

This, according to a poll that the Nashville-based TennesseeCAN released this week. Members of TennesseeCAN, according to the group’s website, prioritize “K-12 education policies that put children first.”

“When asked how Tennessee should handle the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP) school funding formula going forward, nearly half of the seventy-five district leaders surveyed suggested overhauling the BEP completely and creating a new funding formula,” according to an emailed TennesseeCAN press release.

“Of the 359 Tennessee school leaders surveyed, zero percent wish to leave the BEP formula as is.”

District leaders also said they need more funding to better recruit, hire, and support principals and to pay competitive salaries.

“When given an opportunity to elaborate, respondents largely felt that while an increase in state funding is critical — especially funding for staffing — school and district leaders who are most familiar with the needs of schools must be consulted by lawmakers if they choose to change the state funding formula,” according to the TennesseeCAN press release.

People who attended regional town halls this fall said they want legislators to pump even more money into public schools. One state legislator however, said that’s not a remedy for improvement.

Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said this month that the state’s funding formula should change but it needs to recognize how many teachers and principals are needed.

“And the funding board should be guided toward the students and how much it costs [for them]. Everybody would like to have more funding, but that’s mostly not the answer for the state just to put in more funding. We have put in more funding every year for the last several years. We put more money in, and people still have good things that need to be funded, but that’s not the answer to the problem, just putting in more money,” Hensley told The Tennessee Star.

“That is certainly part of the issue, but that formula needs to change so it’s based on other things that each county looks at — the taxing and the income and the whole set of things they look at to fund. The funding formula is just funding so many positions. That doesn’t really recognize how many positions the school really needs. The funding formula needs to really recognize the real number of teachers and assistants and bus drivers and everything, speech pathologists and nurses the school needs and fund that accordingly.”

Staff at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) this fall invited state residents to eight regional public town halls to discuss the state’s public education funding strategy.

State officials have not updated the state’s current school funding framework in more than 30 years. BEP is the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools.

The majority of attendees who spoke at at least two town halls — one in Hendersonville and the other in Pulaski — were current or former teachers or had connections to the Tennessee Department of Education.

The current Basic Education Funding formula will remain in place until a new one is recommended to and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]





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4 Thoughts to “Zero Percent of Tennessee School Leaders Want to Keep Current Funding Formula, New Poll Says”

  1. Benjamin Taibi

    Do not fall for it – “educators” make you think more money = better results for the kids. NO – it means more money for educators – it means money for indoctrination. Coming from New York I can tell you they are selling you a bill of goods. They want complete authority to do whatever they wish to convince everyone they know better, yet the kids end up with LESS skills. PARENTS need to be involved and have complete control and call the shots. Educators have shown they cannot be trusted to support the values of parents – do not let Tennessee become New York

  2. rick

    Educators learn quickly spend every penny you receive, even if it is spent wastefully, so that next year your budget will increase, never leave any money unspent from the previous year that is an unforgiveable sin! I guarantee there is no county in Tennessee that has received more federal money than Memphis and they are a pitiful mess, neck and neck with Commie “The Taxman” Coopers Nashville! Sorry no sympathy from me I have dealt with public education for 40 + years!

  3. 83ragtop50

    The townhalls are nothing but window dressing for the push for even more taxation for schools. Asking the school leaders what they want is like dangling a chocolate bar in front of a 5 year-old and asking them if they want more chocolate. The first step should be a realistic evaluation of the number of “administrators” that are really necessary, then giving the excess who are qualified to teach the option of moving into the classroom or to find work elsewhere. Public school systems are bloated with overpaid “administrators”. The second step would be to put teachers on a true merit system for being paid tied directly to student performance. Thirdly, the dollars doled out to districts should be allocated directly to each student who, in turn, could use that funding for tuition for a private school or materials for homeschooling. Finally, the funding rules should eliminate the loopholes that (1) guarantee no year-to-year reduction in budget, and (2) permit (encourage?) the manipulation of budget to increase the actual dollars to exceed that allocated in the basic budget. Del Phillips of Sumner County is noted for such budget manipulations.

  4. Kevin

    Duh, what school “leader” won’t take and spend every red cent that they get! The question become which one use it in the right ways! If money were the answer, Baltimore would be spitting out Rhodes scholars faster than kisses at a Hershey factory!

    And kudos to Senator Hensley! That boy has his head screwed on right.