FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law that will invest $1 billion into Tennessee’s public education system. The ceremony took place in Williamson County at Lee’s alma mater, Franklin High School.
The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) bill ultimately passed with bipartisan support during the recent legislative session. It changes the way Tennessee funds public education for the first time in thirty years.
Governor Lee calls it a more “transparent” formula that provides a base fund of $6,860 per student, plus percentage increases for a child’s individual needs. These include:
- Economically disadvantaged students (base x 25%)
- Students living in areas of concentrated poverty (base x 5%)
- Students in sparsely populated communities and students in small districts (base x 25%)
- Students with unique learning needs (base x 15-150%)
Governor Lee says the “student-focused” bill recognizes that every school district has different needs and will be funded accordingly.
“So actually, from this day forward when we put dollars into education, I think we’re going to see exactly where they go and how they’re spent,” Governor Lee said.
State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn faced tough criticism on both sides of the aisle while advocating for the TISA bill. Many questioned how the plan will work and how it will be funded in the future.
“I don’t think we have a good sense of what this actually is going to mean for school finances for state finances or for district finances in the foreseeable future,” Finance Committee Democrat Jeff Yarbro told News 2 in a previous interview.
“I would take a million more hits in order to make sure that it would happen and our kids get what they need. It was very exhausting and incredibly rewarding,” Schwinn said.
Schwinn says state education leaders are now focused on ensuring school districts know how much money they’re going to get and strategic ways to invest those new dollars on behalf of students.
“We feel really good about the legislation that was passed. We feel good about the great input and strong input we got from the general assembly and legislative leadership,” Schwinn said.
TISA does not go into effect until the 2023-2024 school year, but Schwinn says schools should start receiving funding estimates by early next year.