A billion-dollar boost to K-12 funding
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee may have just proposed more than $1 billion in new recurring funding for K-12 education, but it could still be a long way before students and teachers see the impact.
That's thanks to myriad factors, the least of which is that the governor still needs to get his new funding formula proposal through the legislature.
Of the $1 billion, $250 million has been earmarked specifically for growth and inflationary costs under the state's current funding formula, the Basic Education Program, and $125 million will be directed toward teacher compensation and salaries.
The remaining $750 million is a preemptive effort to fund a potential new funding formula. But new formula wouldn't go into effect until the fiscal year 2024, if lawmakers approve it (impacting the 2023-24 school year).
Instead, the $750 million will go toward one-time investments this year, including increasing school infrastructure for career and technical education programs, moving 14 schools out of flood plains and a $50 million investment in the state's GROW and SPARK programs.
'Questions remain' on state's funding formula proposal
But questions remain, including whether that $750 million would go toward education each year going forward if the legislature does not approve a new formula and whether lawmakers will actually successfully tackle a new iteration of a 30-year-old problem this spring.
Stay tuned to more coverage from The Tennessean on this and more on the governor's proposed fiscal 2023 budget.
Additional budget highlights
Proposing a new law that will ensure parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries.
Proposing new legislation with a potential $10 million investment to make computer science and coding classes available to every high school student in Tennessee.
$2.5 million to expand the state's Future Workforce Initiative.
Formalizing a partnership with Hillsdale College to expand their approach to civics education and K-12 education in Tennessee.
$125 million in recurring funds toward teacher compensation and providing "a well-deserved increase" to the teacher salary pool, according to the Governor's Office.
$25 million in recurring funding to continue state-sponsored summer learning camps ahead of the implementation of the state's third-grade reading gate ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, which will require students to attend summer school (among other options) if they are not on track in reading after third grade in order to be promoted to fourth grade.
$16 million in recurring funds and $16 million in one-time funds to the Charter Schools Facility Fund for charter school capital costs.
$90 million to fully fund a new higher education outcomes-based formula, enabling a 0% tuition increase for public universities.
$200 million for TCAT infrastructure investments to help double the skilled workforce by 2026.
$72 million to complete the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, a partnership with the University of Tennessee to invest in data science and technology, advanced materials, and outcomes-based applications.
$50 million to a Carnegie R1 research fund at the University of Memphis, matched by private donors, to sustain the university’s R1 designation.
$250 million in infrastructure improvements at Tennessee State University to mitigate life-safety issues and help improve academic and student campus buildings.
$75.2 million to increase the 4-year HOPE Award to $5,100 per student, per year, and the 2-year HOPE Award to $3,200 per student, per year.
Four percent salary pool increase for higher education employees to ensure they attract and retain the best employee base possible.
Of 'Maus' and men
Before the governor took over the limelight — and the headlines — Monday night, mice dominated them instead.
News of the board's removal of the book from its curriculum was first reported Wednesday night by the progressive activist website The Tennessee Holler, following the release of a report by a Middle Tennessee school district earlier in the week that also recommended removing a book from the curriculum.
McMinn County school officials recommended the "Maus" removal due to "unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide" and argued that students can be taught about the Holocaust with more "age-appropriate" materials.
But some wonder how authentic the argument about "age-appropriateness" is.
Williamson County parents, including representatives of the conservative parent advocacy group Moms for Liberty, also called into question whether some curriculum materials are age-appropriate, but after the review committee failed to remove those items from the curriculum, the group is again appealing to the Tennessee Department of Education to have four texts — on topics like the first Black child to integrate New Orleans schools, Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Washington and a Latinx family's experience integrating Los Angeles schools — removed.
Now several lawmakers have proposed legislation that would either restrict what is available in classrooms or school libraries and/or give parents greater say in what their children have access to — and the governor has signed on. He is backing the proposed "Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022."
Follow The Tennessean's ongoing coverage this week for more.
Hearing from you
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: A billion-dollar funding boost?