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Tennessee K-12 Public Education Funding Engagement


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn invite Tennesseans to participate in the full review of the state’s education funding formula and explore possibilities for a more student-centered approach.

The state’s current school funding framework, also known as the Basic Education Program (BEP), has not been meaningfully updated in more than 30 years.

Public engagement will focus on a student investment strategy that incorporates the following: 

  • Prioritizes students over systems
  • Empowers parents to engage in their child’s education
  • Incentivizes student outcomes
  • Ensures all students, regardless of location or learning needs, are served at a high-level
  • Reflects Tennesseans’ values
  • Creates flexible funding that prepare students for postsecondary success

Funding Review Committees

The state’s engagement will include a central steering committee composed of policymakers from across the state and 18 subcommittees, who represent district and school leaders, higher education partners, elected officials, business leaders, families, education stakeholders and members of the public. The department will also have a committee of national experts, regional meetings of county commissioners and school board members and public engagement representatives.

  • Chair: Elizabeth Brown, State President, Future Business Leaders of America – Tennessee; Senior, Coffee County High School
  • Tetteybea Addo, 2021-22 President-Elect, HOSA; South Gibson County High School 
  • Hadley Brown, President, Tennessee DECA; Beech High School 
  • Harrison Falcofsky, 2021 President, Tennessee FFA; Stewarts Creek High School
  • Samuel Howard, President, Tennessee Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA); Wartburg Central High School
  • Kevin Hu, 2021-22 President, Tennessee SkillsUSA; Lawrence County High School 
  • Mansi Patel, Vice President, West Tennessee DECA; Waverly Central High School 
  • Zoe Tripp, President, Technology Student Association; Middle College High School
  • Cali VanCleve, Student Council President, Volunteer Girls State; Wilson Central High School
  • Michele Carringer, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly 
  • Becky Massey, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chair: Commissioner Brad Turner, Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Jennifer Aprea, Director of Family Engagement in Special Education, The ARC
  • Sandra Edwards, Superintendent, Tennessee School for the Deaf
  • Mandy Fisher, Academic Dean, Bethel University
  • David Martin, Superintendent, Tennessee School for the Blind 
  • Lauren Pearcy, Director of Public Policy, Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • LeAnn Simmerman, Co-President, Tennessee Association for the Gifted
  • Lori Smith, President, Decoding Dyslexia 
  • Stephen Smith, Director, TENNCare 
  • Anna Thorsen, Metro Nashville Public School Parent and Dyslexia Advocate
  • Wendy Tucker, Senior Director of Policy, Center for Learner Equity; Member, State Board of Education
  • Carol Westlake, Executive Director, Tennessee Disability Coalition/Disability Rights Tennessee 
  • Bill Powers, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Sam Whitson, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chair: Raul Lopez, Executive Director, Latinos for Tennessee 
  • Megan Barolet-Fogarty, Director of Youth & Family Engagement, Centro Hispano de East TN 
  • Claudia Caballero, President & CEO, Centro Hispano de East TN
  • Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director, Latino Memphis
  • Dr. Laura Clark, Director, ELL Collaborative, Middle Tennessee State University 
  • Mike Edwards, Member, State Board of Education 
  • Tara Lentz, Co-Executive Director, Conexión Américas
  • Becky Peterson, Lecturer (Vanderbilt), Foreign Language Association
  • Luis Parodi, Vice President, Senior Regional CRA & Community Development Officer, Republic Bank 
  • Meghan Vigil, ESL Instructor & Tennessee Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages Teacher of the Year, Smyrna Middle School
  • Todd Gardenhire, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Harold M. Love, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chair: Victor Evans, Executive Director, TennesseeCAN
  • Cherrell Campbell-Street, Assistant Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Human Services 
  • Diarese George, Executive Director, Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance 
  • Mary Graham, President, United Ways of Tennessee 
  • Elissa Kim, Member, State Board of Education 
  • Courtney Mott, Director of State & Electoral Campaigns, Save the Children Action Network
  •  Jennifer Nichols, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services 
  • Gloria Sweet-Love, President, NAACP of TN
  • Dwayne Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, LEAD Public Schools
  • Sam Wigand, Chief Executive Officer, Communities in Schools
  • Brenda Gilmore, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chris Hurt, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chair: Dr. Derwin Sisnett, Commissioner, Tennessee Public Charter School Commission
  • Melanie Allen, Parent, Knox County 
  • Dr. Maya Bugg, CEO, Charter School Center
  • Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director, Memphis Lift
  • Denny Darnell, Parent, Kingsport City 
  • Sherry Hage, Founder and CEO, Noble Education Initiative 
  • Christy Carroll Highfill, Parent, Hamilton County 
  • Dwight Hunter, President, Tennessee PTA 
  • Wendy Jarvis, Parent, Putnam County 
  • Tom Marino, Executive Director, The Poplar Foundation
  • Nate Morrow, Member, State Board of Education 
  • Bob Nardo, Executive Director, Libertas School of Memphis 
  • Latoya Robinson, Parent, Shelby County 
  • Dr. Sonia Stewart, Community Superintendent, Midtown Learning Community, Hamilton County
  • Blair Taylor, President and CEO, Tennesseans for Quality Early Education 
  • Kevin Tennant, Parent, Bedford County 
  • Josh Thomas, Regional Advocacy Director, ExcelinEd
  • Jennings Wilson, Parent, Weakley County
  • April Garza-Wright, Parent, Williamson County 
  • Jon Lundberg, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Sabi Kumar, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly

Chair: Morgan Rankin, 2021-22 Teacher of the Year, Johnson City Schools

Chair: Farrah Griffith, Principal, White County Schools

Chair: Dr. Steve Starnes, Director of Schools, Greeneville City Schools

Chair: Dr. Danny Weeks, Director of Schools, Dickson County Schools

Chair: Janet Ayers, President, The Ayers Foundation

Chair: Dr. Ted Horrell, Director of Schools, Lakeland School System

Chair: Cato Johnson, Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President of Public Policy/Regulatory Affairs, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

Chair: Dr. Youlanda Jones, President, Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology- Covington, Ripley, and Newbern

Chair: Randy Boyd, President, University of Tennessee System

Chair: Dr. Jared Bigham, Senior Advisor on Workforce & Rural Initiatives, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce

Chair: Dr. Dan Challener, President, Public Education Foundation

Co-Chairs: Scott Niswonger, Chairman and Founder, Niswonger Foundation, and Dr. Nancy Dishner, President and CEO, Niswonger Foundation

Chair: Justin Owen, President & Chief Executive Officer, Beacon Center of Tennessee

Get Involved

District and school leaders, elected officials, families, education stakeholders and members of the public will be engaged in the coming months through committees, survey opportunities, local meetings and more. 

Fill out this form to sign up for consideration to join a committee and receive updates.