Over 1,300 Public Comments Submitted on Potential Student-Based K-12 Public Education Funding Formula
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Acceleration for Students
Nashville, TN- Following months of strong engagement and conversations about public education funding in Tennessee, today the Tennessee Department of Education announced over 1,300 public comments have been submitted on a potential student-based K-12 public education funding formula in Tennessee. Comments and input have been submitted by hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state.
On Tuesday, January 11, the department released an initial draft framework of a potential student-based funding formula, informed by input of thousands of Tennesseans. As part of a robust public review and engagement process, public comment on the draft framework and overall funding review engagement process has been shared with the 18 subcommittees to help inform potential recommendations for a new funding formula. Any proposed new funding formula would prioritize strategic investments in students, transparent reporting and accountability, and student-centered decisions.
"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,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “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."
The draft framework for a new student-based funding formula would include funding for services and supports for K-12 public schools that are currently funded in the existing formula. The draft framework is available here.
In late December, Commissioner Schwinn gave an update to Gov. Bill Lee on the public school funding engagement process and discussed next steps moving forward. Watch the recording here.
All subcommittee meeting recordings are available online and their final meetings will take place the week of January 24th. Subcommittees will finalize draft formula recommendations to be provided to Gov. Lee and the Funding Review Steering Committee, which is composed of policymakers and legislative leadership, for consideration. Commentary from subcommittee meetings includes:
“As true for all, I just hope that students are able to pursue what they would like to without restraint, but one of the things that I am most passionate about and bring a lot of experience from my own community is the ability to for students to access the basic needs such as quality textbooks despite social economic factors or anything else that might go into it.” – Comfort Markwei, Student Council President at Central Magnet High School, Student Engagement Subcommittee
“I think one of the things that I think we’re going to need to look at around special education is the ratios for staffing to students.” – David Martin, Superintendent, Tennessee School for the Blind, Students with Disabilities and Gifted Subcommittee
“I think continuing funding for school social workers and school counselors. I know that isn’t necessarily teaching, but I can’t do my job without my school counselor and my school social worker. I also wanted to mention that we should look at ratios and see if we can get schools in better ratios.” – Elizabeth Evans, 2021-22 Teacher of the Year finalist, Anderson County Schools, East Region, Teacher Advisory Subcommittee
“I would just like to add that the transparency was real, and I was truly excited to see this report and how it reflects what my committee actually recommended, and I think they are going to be really excited to see the draft in the proposal.” – Dr. Youlanda Jones, Higher Education and Post-Secondary Readiness Subcommittee Chair, Funding Review Subcommittee Chair
Additionally, public comments have been submitted from citizens throughout Tennessee, including to Tennessee School Funding Ambassadors who have been collecting public comments from their local communities and submitted to the department. Common themes include:
“Build a simplified, student-weighted funding formula giving additional weight value to low-income student population in underserved areas.” – Tennessee School Funding Ambassador Submission
“We need to fully fund public education with student need-based funding models. The base amount must be adequate for an education that ensures each student will receive the full education they need.” – Tennessee School Funding Ambassador Submission
“Invest in our children by giving our youth updated books and materials, better funding into our public schools. The children are our future. Education should be a top priority in Tennessee. It's important to have the best materials and teachers in our schools. Without a good education there can be no growth.” – Tennessee School Funding Ambassador Submission
After Gov. Bill Lee announced in October that the state would review its public school funding formula, hundreds of Tennesseans indicated they would be interested in supporting the work of the 18 school funding subcommittees tasked with making recommendations to a steering committee of legislative leaders for a new student-based funding formula in Tennessee. The department hosted eight public town halls and local match meetings across the state, and created an additional engagement opportunity for Tennesseans to participate in the process as School Funding Ambassadors to collect public comments from community members. Additionally, members of the Tennessee General Assembly are hosting events across the state. Additional information can be found here.
For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.