Over 1,300 public comments from “hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state” have been posted in response to a potential new school funding formula, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) said in a Wednesday statement.
“Tennesseans recognize what a historic moment in time this is for education in our state, and I want to thank those who submitted public comments as part of our engagement process on a potential new funding formula for Tennessee’s public schools,” TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.
She added, “As has been shared in subcommittee meetings, at town halls, on social media, and at local meetings, a new public education funding formula for Tennessee must be centered around our students so that we can ensure our children can thrive in the classroom and be successful after high school.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Education released a draft of the new funding formula “informed by input of thousands of Tennesseans.” The new funding plan said it had to be “Strategic for all students (student-based; funding students not systems), easy to understand, sustainable, outcomes-driven, and flexible.”
The statement notes that funding focuses on four parts, the base (the amount allocated to each student in the state for common education needs), weights (the weight assigned to students based on additional needs identified), direct funding (the dollar amount allocated to students based on specific programs), and outcomes (additional dollars allocated based on getting stronger outcomes for traditionally higher-need student groups).
The draft does not state how much will be allocated to schools, or how much will specifically for students.
The Tennessee Star reported in October 2021 that the TDOE would host eight town halls across Tennessee for residents to voice their opinions on public schools. The Department said that the BEP funding had not been updated in over thirty years, and the town halls would “spark localized conversations about student-based funding for public education in Tennessee and how to create a new strategy to best serve our students and ensure they are prepared for future success.”
The Star reported that many of the speakers at the Hendersonville and Pulaski town hall meetings were teachers, administrators, or otherwise connected to the school system, and that their comments supported on more funding for the schools – mirroring many of the comments collected by the Department of Education.
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