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TISA jumps latest hurdle in the last weeks of the General Assembly

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With another hurdle behind Governor Bill Lee’s proposed public education funding formula, education officials said people are starting to get used to the idea of a new method.

Governor Bill Lee’s Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement passed out of the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. The bill still has other committees to face in the remaining weeks of the year’s General Assembly session.

“I think change is hard,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “I think originally people were saying can’t we just take this money and put it into the [current funding formula]? This is why it’s hard to change a state formula. But there’s more information and people are learning about the formula and the benefits of that.”

The funding formula includes the largest increase in public school funding in state history, and introduces a weighted system allocating more dollars to students with certain needs including economic disadvantages and for students in rural areas.

“We’re not afraid schools are going to try to add these qualifications to students because they’re going to get more money,” Senator Joey Hensley (R) asked Schwinn.

“I do believe our superintendents are going to act with utmost integrity in terms of this process,” Schwinn said.

Up next Schwinn said she’s going to get new projected local costs out to districts. Schwinn, Governor Lee and the bill’s sponsor Senator Jack Johnson said the local contribution into the formula won’t change for two to four years.

“It phases in the implementation over a number of years so districts can grow into this new formula,” Sen. Johnson said.

The bill got enough approval to be passed out of committee.

Republican Senator Joey Hensley voted against the bill and Democratic Senator Raumesh Akbari of Memphis passed on her vote.

The bill will head to the Senate finance committee next.

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