Education association calls for more state public school funding to ensure student success

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Posted at 7:09 AM, Jan 12, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Wednesday, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Tennessee Department of Education will host a town hall to discuss the state’s education funding strategy.

State education leaders will join MNPS Board of Education members for the town hall, which is part of Gov. Bill Lee’s review of the state funding formula for education.

Community members are encouraged to share their thoughts on the funding needed for Tennessee public schools to ensure student success.

Each speaker, including community members, will have up to two minutes to share their thoughts focused on student funding.

Metropolitan Nashville Education Association reports Tennessee is 46th in the nation when it comes to funding schools.

The organization’s president Michele Sheriff said for students to be successful the funding needs to be adequate.

She said teachers are having to purchase instructional materials out of their own pockets and public schools are understaffed.

Sheriff said there should be more counselors, school nurses, psychologists, and social workers. Additionally, she said the Basic Education Program, the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools, should be revamped.

She said the current BEPunderfunds by 11,000 personnel, so school districts are having to make up the funding for 11,000 educators across the state.

“The state needs to decide. You can't underfund schools and then say schools are failing students. You have to provide the funding for what students need to see the success moving forward,” Sheriff explained.

Sheriff said schools themselves aren’t failing students.

“There are amazing things happening every day in our schools. Our students are amazing people and so when you just look at a test score, students are more than one test score. Students are more than their attendance at schools and those are the measures being used to grade schools. Kids are doing amazing things every day. Teachers are doing an amazing job of supporting students and their families,” Sheriff said.

The funding town hall kicks off at 6:30 p.m. in the MNPS boardroom at 2601 Bransford Ave. It will also be streamed on the Metro Nashville Network.