TDOE seeks input on school funding formula during town hall

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education is looking for help from you for a new school funding formula.

“There is a lot of interest in what can be and what’s possible, especially coming out of a pandemic. And so we wanted to open the conversation and have it be a really action-orientated and inclusive process. So whatever we build is about all Tennesseans across the state,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

The Tennessee Department of Education held a town hall meeting at Gibson County High School in Dyer.

Leaders say they want communities across the state to give their feedback on a student-based funding strategy for education.

“Instead of funding at a systems level, we’re actually looking at the need of specific students based on some characteristics. Are they living in an urban, suburban or rural community? Are they economically disadvantaged? Do they have a disability or speak another language other than English? By looking at the students, we’re actually funding the need of that student, and all of those students put together make up your district budget,” Schwinn said.

This is the seventh of eight town hall meetings held across the Volunteer State, and Schwinn says there have been several common topics.

“We’ve definitely seen a belief system in a funding formula that meets the needs of all students and allows them to be successful after high school. So really a strong focus on post-high school success. We’ve heard a lot about counselors, nurses, a lot about students with disabilities and special education, as well as smaller class sizes and a focus on literacy in the early grades,” Schwinn said.

One speaker says his main concern is transparency.

“My main thing was being able to have an opportunity to see the compiled information across the state, and being able to have a little bit more buy in at that point and a few more comments then after you’ve seen that compiled information. Because there may be someone in another part of the state that can think of something that we might have not thought of here,” said Mark Hodge, a Humboldt City Schools Board Member.

If you would like to send any feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education, just email tnedu.funding@tn.gov.

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