NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As a handful of lawmakers prepare to investigate and potentially reject nearly $2 billion in federal education funding, a Wilson County commissioner is sounding the alarm.
Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District are expected to receive nearly $18 million from the federal government in 2024. Now, there is a big question mark on how that money would be replaced.
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For years, Tennessee has received $1.8 billion in federal education funding, which helps fund low-income schools and students with disabilities in the state.
However, in an effort to break away from “federal government interference,” Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said the state can replace the funding with state tax dollars. A working group is expected to evaluate that next week.
“I have not seen a specific plan on where the money would come from,” said Lauren Breeze, Wilson County Commissioner for District 18.
Breeze, started crunching some numbers. “As a county commissioner, my job is budget, dollars, and cents.”
Breeze said if lawmakers can’t fill the hole with state dollars, then education funding would fall on the local level. “That additional $18 million will cost taxpayers an additional 26.5 cents of property tax.”
In Wilson County, the federal education dollars help fund special education, teacher salaries, ROTC, and reduced lunches cost.
“This would be significant for us,” Breeze said.
However, she said some counties may be impacted even more. “If you have more Title 1 schools in your district you are going to end up with more federal funding. So, this could affect smaller counties significantly potentially more than larger counties.”
The state working group plans to meet on Monday with members from both the House and Senate.