Great strides were made for education in Tennessee this week as an administration bill carried by Republican Leader Mark Norris, SB2565, passed in the Senate Education Committee.
Senator Norris’ bill codifies the BEP (Basic Education Program) that the state of Tennessee has been using and clarifies uses, intentions, outcome goals, and provisions for the state’s school systems, students, teachers, and administrators.
There are concerns about the language being too binding with regards to how funds affect teacher salaries and benefits. Senator Haile expressed his concern in committee that there could be changes in allocation, but Deputy Commissioner Stephen Smith assured the committee that the formulas are put together in a way that would allow individual districts to find what works best with their current funds.
The bill’s proposal represents the largest investment in education without a tax increase in Tennessee history. It proposes $223 million in investments, including $105 million in teacher salaries and $30 million for the twelfth month of teacher’s insurance.
In the classroom, the bill presents a plan to double state investment in technology, so that we can bring our schools up to date, as well as provisions for ELL and Special Education.
The language would further solidify the method for distributing funds each year so that our school systems from Johnson City to Memphis will always know what to expect.
The bill will take this language and existing language from the BEP formularies and codify it in Tennessee law, so that the methods that work in individual systems can continue to be pursued.
We are definitely seeing strides in Tennessee Education with this program.