We urge Governor Lee, Commissioner Schwinn and the Tennessee General Assembly to consider the following recommendations:
Provide a thoughtful stakeholder engagement process to ensure a diverse array of voices are heard in the coming months. Every Tennessean has a stake in the outcome of this process, and authentic and meaningful engagement will ensure a stronger solution in the end.
Build a simplified, student-weighted funding formula guided by students’ different levels of need with the goals of eliminating achievement and opportunity gaps. The state must provide clear dollar allocations by assigning additional “weights” for students from low-income families, English learners, students with disabilities, and rural students.
Ensure there is an increased level of funding allocated through the state formula, both overall and to student groups most in need, in order to support a rigorous, high-quality education program for all students.
Ensure there is fairness in allocations by addressing local district’s ability to pay and providing appropriate funding to districts with low property wealth. This will help make up the difference between what a district needs and what it is reasonably able to contribute based on their ability to raise local revenue.
Build robust state and local data systems to ensure that dollars are used well while providing enough flexibility to allow districts to respond to their local needs and context.
Create a transparent and simple design to ensure ease in monitoring funding going to districts. The state should provide information on how the funding system is designed to work in clear, accessible language. Transparency allows stakeholders to engage in conversations about how well the state’s funding meets students’ needs.