BEP Enhancement Act
The Basic Education Program (BEP) was enacted in 1992 in response to a successful legal challenge by many of the state’s small school systems, which argued the state’s existing funding mechanism did not provide equal educational opportunities to their students.
In 2007, at the urging of Governor Bredesen, the General Assembly adopted revisions to the BEP. These revisions, known as BEP 2.0, established new funding goals and set the state on a new path of determining how we divide available revenue among our schools.
Much debate and discussion has occurred since the adoption of BEP 2.0, both around funding and the distribution of funds to local school districts. Over the course of the last two years, through the BEP Task Force, the BEP Review Committee and other means, the administration has been studying the BEP extensively and, while it is clear all school districts support more funding, it is also clear there is no consensus on how this funding should be divided.
Since 2011, Governor Haslam and the General Assembly have partnered to improve the BEP by a half billion dollars. This includes more than $240 million in new money for teacher salaries from FY 12 to FY 16 as we strive to be the fastest improving state in teacher salary growth.
This year, Governor Haslam has proposed a budget and corresponding legislation to enhance the BEP by more than $220 million – the largest improvement without a tax increase in the history of the BEP and one that exceeds funding gained through full implementation of BEP 2.0.
Specifically, the Governor’s BEP enhancement plan includes:
- More than $100 million for teacher salaries – the largest investment without a tax increase in the history of the BEP;
- Nearly $30 million to fund the 12th month of insurance for teachers;
- $15 million for recurring technology funds for our schools – an amount that doubles our current investment and addresses concerns related to devices, infrastructure and instruction;
- Nearly $20 million to better serve high need student populations; and
- Almost $50 million to address enrollment growth and inflationary costs
Due in part to ongoing debate, the BEP presently utilizes and equally weights two funding distribution models – the pre BEP-2.0 model (TACIR) and the post-BEP 2.0 model (CBER).
After careful study and review of multiple options, we have learned that the use of these two models results in a distribution that is fair, equitable and reasonable.
Based on these facts and analyses, the Governor’s BEP proposal codifies into law the state’s existing method of funding distribution.
Together, Governor Haslam and the General Assembly have made tremendous investments in public education. This BEP enhancement plan will continue to move our entire state forward by solidifying and clarifying the current funding formula and distribution while at the same time providing a record-breaking investment for education that helps all.