Tennessee budgets for new education formula for schools

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Posted at 9:17 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 22:17:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Without ironing out all the final details, Tennessee lawmakers approved funding for Tennessee's new education formula.

The new formula — Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement — would take over the Basic Education Program, which Gov. Bill Lee has long criticized is archaic. TISA is the base funding for each individual student, but there are weights for a specific student's needs. One of those weights used to be for charter schools.

That's now changed.

Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, contributed to budget talks as chairman of the appropriations committee. He said charter schools were taken out of the weights category and added as a base amount for each student. Those weights don't apply to those students.

In addition to charter school criticism, others have raised concerns that it's not accounting enough for areas with high costs of living, Nashville being the prime example.

"I think it's a valid argument," Williams said. "I think there are obviously different costs of living. Even in Cookeville, the cost of living has gone up dramatically. But it has statewide as well. The good news is we're adding additional funding for each student, the base number as well. But that sparsity in other parts of the matrix are what helps fund additional programs for those areas. That way each individual child is treated the same whether they're in Memphis or Nashville."

The final details have yet to come out for all the metrics on how TISA is calculated per district. Some of the details will come to light next week since the budget has now been approved for the year.

While lawmakers bickered about whether TISA should even come to fruition this year, some lawmakers on the House floor volleyed to have more BEP funding for schools since TISA won't take effect until at least two more years. Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said he wanted to completely fund schools through the BEP formula to the tune of $1.7 billion.

House Republicans and Democrats voted along party lines, resulting in the amendment being left out of the state's budget for the year.