Tennesseans Invited to 8 Statewide Public Town Halls to Discuss a Student-Focused Funding Approach

Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 01:20pm

Public Invited to Join Open Discussions; All Will Be Livestreamed

Nashville, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education invites all Tennesseans to eight regional public town halls to be part of the open dialogue and discussion on Tennessee’s review of a student-based public education funding strategy. Each town hall will take place in-person and will also be livestreamed.

These public town halls will 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. All Tennesseans — including parents and families, teachers, students, elected officials, stakeholders and partners, business leaders and members of the general public—are invited to participate and will be able to share their feedback and hopes for a new funding strategy. Please RSVP via the respective Facebook event below. Media are invited to attend and there will be an official availability with the department after each town hall.

“Along with partners and stakeholders across the state, I am thrilled to invite all Tennesseans to join us for these conversations about what a student-based funding strategy could look like in our state,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Focusing on the needs of our students and how to best set them up for success is our collective goal and we look forward to hearing directly from parents, stakeholders, and members of the public about their thoughts, concerns and hopes for a new public education funding strategy to best support our kids.”

Each town hall will feature a brief introduction from the department, respective co-host, and then dive into comments and feedback from in-person audience members. All Tennesseans are also invited to submit comments and questions via email to tnedu.funding@tn.gov

The schedule and details for each of the eight statewide public town halls are as follows:

Week of October 25 

Week of November 1

Week of November 22

Week of November 29

"Centering parents in these conversations now and in the final decision is what we expect out of our state and local leaders,” said Sonya Thomas, Executive Director, Nashville PROPEL. “We thank Governor Lee, Commissioner Schwinn and our elected officials for recognizing the need for parents at the table and making sure we provide our children with every opportunity for a successful life.”

"Gibson County Special School District is excited to co-host a public town hall to open the dialogue with Tennesseans across our part of the state on the vital topic of a student-based funding strategy," said Eddie Pruett, Director of Schools, Gibson County Special School District. "We believe the engagement of parents and families, business and industry leaders, elected officials and stakeholders throughout Tennessee is critical to helping us move forward with the best interests of our students in mind."

“We welcome all Tennesseans to the table as we discuss how we fund public schools to meet the education and career-ready needs of our students,” said Nancy Dishner, President of the Niswonger Foundation. “The Niswonger Foundation is thrilled to co-host a town hall to invite Tennesseans to join the conversation and share their perspectives to inform a long-term investment strategy for the betterment of our state, communities, and — most importantly — our students.”

The state’s funding review engagement includes the central steering committee and 18 subcommittees, in addition to a committee of national experts, regional meetings of county commissioners and school board members, public engagement representatives, and an opportunity for public comment through a formal survey later in the fall. Each of the 18 subcommittees, composed of 8-10 members, is led by a chair who is tasked with capturing ideas and feedback based in the unique perspective of the stakeholder group or respective topic area they serve. Each chair is a trusted advocate to responsibly collect and share feedback and suggestions for a student-based funding approach.

Over the next three months, the subcommittees will meet twice a month, either in person or virtually. The central steering committee will convene monthly and review finalized feedback provided by the subcommittees. All associated committee meeting materials, including recordings, transcripts, and minutes, will be posted here. Additional subcommittee members will be released in the coming days.

More than 1,000 Tennesseans have already submitted their interest in engaging in discussions and receiving updates related to a student-centered investment strategy. Members of the public are encouraged to continue to submit their interest via this form.

Visit this webpage for more information and learn how to get involved. For funding related inquiries, contact tnedu.funding@tn.gov.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.