After months of strong engagement and conversations about public education funding in Tennessee and years of consistent feedback, the Tennessee Department of Education released Tuesday an initial draft overview of a potential student-based funding formula.
Containing the input of thousands of Tennesseans — parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state — TDOE is encouraging Tennesseans to send feedback on by Tuesday, Jan. 18 at noon. Comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“People know what they want for public school funding, and we are thrilled so many Tennesseans have participated in this process and see what this will mean for students,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a press statement. “We know this cannot just be about a funding formula in isolation, but about what funding can do to accelerate achievement for our students, ensure they have access to a high-quality education, and set them up for success after high school.”
Any proposed new funding formula would prioritize strategic investments in students, transparent reporting and accountability, and student-centered decisions.
The draft framework for a new student-based funding formula would include funding for all services and supports for K-12 public schools that are currently funded in the existing formula.
The base funding under the new framework would include money for educator salaries, nurses, counselors and student supports, intervention resources and technology — along with varying district-specific needs.
Districts would also receive additional dollars for specific student subgroups that are sometimes harder or more expensive to educate like students who are living in poverty, English language learners and students with disabilities.
Some funding would go to charter schools, impacting about 42,000 of the state’s nearly 1 million public schools students.
The draft indicates that the amount of funding or emphasis on each of these weights would vary, with a heavy emphasis being placed on providing additional funding for students in poverty and a lighter emphasis on charter school students.
The state would also allocate additional funding for tutoring programs, career and technical education programs and to districts considered “fast-growing.”
The draft framework includes an “outcomes section” that would provide a per-student bonus for performance.
“I want to personally thank the Tennessee parents, teachers, students and citizens who have engaged in this important discussion about our state’s education funding, and to encourage all Tennesseans who want to get involved to send their public comments on this latest draft,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a press statement. “As we plan for the future of Tennessee, this process will continue to ensure we’re listening to the people of the state and improving how we invest resources to set our students up for success.”