Tennessee unveiled a new K-12 education funding plan Thursday for lawmakers to consider. If approved, Tennessee would join nearly 40 other states in implementing a funding plan that attaches a set amount of money per student.
Currently, the state’s decades-old funding matrix is made up of about 45 different components that help determine what dollar amounts school districts receive. The districts serve nearly 1 million Tennessean students.
For months, Gov. Lee and state education officials have highlighted the many meetings and town halls held across the state dedicated to collecting feedback from educators and families. And during his budget unveiling, the governor promised $750 million more annually to fund the new formula starting in 2023-2024. The money would first be available for other one-time education uses in the upcoming budget year.
But while many Tennessee education experts have criticized the current system as complicated and outdated, there has also been concern over rushing to replace it with another system that could create its own set of issues. The proposal faces additional headwinds during an election year, when lawmakers are extra wary about votes that could be controversial in their districts, and they’re eager not to drag out legislative work so they can get out on the campaign trail.
GoveLee said the goal is to have the GOP-dominant General Assembly finalize the overhaul of the funding formula by the end of the legislative session. If approved, implementation would begin in the 2023-2024 school year. However, many lawmakers have not yet had a chance to examine the new proposal and it’s unclear how many are willing to take on the massive task before adjourning.—–