Tennessee leaders lay out new education funding formula

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After three decades of discussing change, it may now be happening.

“They deserve funding that fits every student’s individual needs and circumstances. This formula is designed to do just that,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

A 30-year-old formula is on its way to being replaced.

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and Lee presented the new school funding framework on Thursday, called the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) Act.

The framework is catered to provide districts with the necessary funding for their students.

The qualifiers for each student is broken up into four main categories.

“Base: That is the amount of funding that goes for any student no matter where they live. Right now that is $6,860 under the new proposal. Weights is on top of that. That is a weight that is a multiplier of the base for specific student needs that might be necessary for that child to meet expectations,” Schwinn said.

Schwinn says direct funding — learning opportunities for students beyond the classroom — and outcomes funding — incentives for achievements — are added on if the student meets the qualification.

Schwinn broke down the process based on each student.

“Student one gets the base of $6,860. This student also has a unique learning need. Maybe she has characteristics of dyslexia, so she would get 20% times that base value of $6,860. This is a second grader, so she also generates $500 to support her literacy development,” Schwinn  said.

Along with funding each student based on their specific needs, the formula will provide $125 million to increasing teacher salaries.

“Salary for teachers in the state of Tennessee was $35,000. This summer there was a commitment made to get that to $40,000 in that four year period. We are on track to be at $45,000 by 2026,” Schwinn said.

Along with making sure each district can provide for their students, Lee says they wanted the process to be transparent.

“It is very important to me that this process and the funding formula be transparent so that teachers understand it, that districts understand it, that parents understand it. There will be a great level of transparency, as well as a great level of accountability,” Lee said.

Lee says the act will be presented to legislative leaders for the next step in getting the funding approved.

For more details on the TISA Act, click here.

You can find more news from across the state here.

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