Tennessee Commissioner of Education Visits Ooltewah High School, Announces New Funding Formula Updates

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and about 100 education officials, students and state officials gathered at Ooltewah High School Monday to mark a new funding formula for public schools, the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement.

The visit was part of the Accelerating TN 2022 tour, visiting 50 school districts over three weeks to highlight summer learning opportunities as well as local and statewide educational initiatives to improve student achievement. students.

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Justin Robertson delivered opening remarks.

“We strongly believe that we have a moral obligation to remove barriers for students (so they can achieve high levels and, in fact, thrive,” Robertson said. “TISA recognizes our students of color , our students with disabilities, our English language learners – all of these unique needs that we must meet for all of our students to thrive. And so I’m proud that Tennessee has adopted an equitable funding formula.”

The new formula will inject a one-time investment of $250 million into education spending across the state starting this fall. After that, $750 million in recurring funds will be distributed in fiscal years 2023 and 2024.

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Education Commissioner visits Ooltewah High School

The formula is weighted according to the student. It starts at a base amount of $6,860 per student and then includes additional funding for students’ unique individual needs, such as those on low incomes or with disabilities. The formula also allocates direct funds to support areas such as early literacy, vocational and technical education programs, one-on-one tutoring and charter schools.

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Under the new formula, Hamilton County schools are set to receive $397 million in fiscal year 2024, $47 million more than the $350 million the system will receive this school year, according to ministry projections. of State Education.

“What I deeply believe TISA will do is ensure that every district has the funds they need to accelerate and more,” Schwinn said.

Schwinn provided an update on the state’s next steps for funding the new formula, which includes implementing the new formula guide that the Department of Education will update annually.

“The thing we’re focusing on now is really what does implementation look like? What does it mean to provide professional development resources and support to our school districts, so they feel empowered to make the decisions they know are best for their local communities,” Schwinn said. “We’ll think about investing strategically in things that work, stopping the ones that don’t, but focusing on students all the time. .”

Schwinn also announced that the Department of Education released proposed rules this week to implement Tennessee’s Investing in Student Success Act. The project, she said, was created through contributions from a variety of stakeholders, including parents, educators, superintendents, and business and community leaders. Schwinn invited the public to weigh in on the rules.

“It will always be an inclusive process,” Schwinn said. “What I really respect about how this process has worked is that it has included so many voices from so many different parts of the state.”

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Schools announce new principals for 2022-23)

Monday’s event also featured two panel discussions on the future effect of the new funding formula on Tennessee students.

The former included state senate finance chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson; Fayette County Schools Director Versie Hamlett; chairman of the State House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee, Mark White, R-Memphis; and Wes Kennedy, director of Union City Schools.

The second included Tennesseans President for Student Success, Adam Lister; chair of the TISA student subcommittee and recent graduate of Coffee County High School Elizabeth Brown; President of TennesseeCAN and parent Victor Evans; and Public Education Foundation President Dan Challener.

Many panelists expressed enthusiasm for the new formula for increasing funding for vocational and technical education.

“The first thing is that we’re really looking to expand and strengthen our CTE program,” Hamlett said. “We really want to be strategic about our workforce development opportunities.”

Other panelists praised the new format’s emphasis on fairness.

“I think what’s also really important about TISA is that it really focuses on students who we haven’t served as well as needed, especially low-income students, students with disabilities , students learning English, students of color,” Challer said.

Monday’s stop at Ooltewah High School marks week two of the Accelerating TN 2022 tour. Other stops will include visits to summer learning camps and roundtables of district and community leaders with Department of Health officials. Tennessee Education.

To submit comments on the new formula’s proposed rules, email [email protected]

Comments may also be mailed to: Tennessee Department of Education, Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor, 710 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243. Attn: TISA Rules

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at [email protected] or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.