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Governor Proposes Some Changes In Education Funding

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other Tennessee counties.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn have released details of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) Act (SB2396) that would transition Tennessee’s K-12 public schools to a student-based funding approach.

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, the TISA would invest an estimated $9 billion in education funding for the state, including state and local funds, which includes $1 billion in new recurring state funds and $750 million in one-time state funds this year.

The TISA will update the way Tennessee funds public education for the first time in over 30 years to empower each student to read proficiently by third grade, prepare each high school graduate for postsecondary success, and provide resources to all students to ensure they succeed.

Under the TISA, districts would receive more than they would under the BEP should enrollment remain stable.

“The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement formula will be a powerful tool the state can use to ensure we are putting all students on a path to success,” Lee said.

“By serving our students well and giving the public greater insight into how their tax dollars are supporting students, the TISA represents an exciting opportunity to improve educational outcomes, strengthen our workforce and propel Tennessee forward.”

“Updating our public education funding model is an investment in our state’s students and our state’s future,” Schwinn said.

“Months of public feedback highlighted how committed Tennesseans are to strengthening how we fund public education, and the TISA puts the focus of education funding right where it belongs – on students.”

The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement is a student-based funding formula that will include the following proposed investments for each of these components:

·$6.6 billion for base funding for every public school student.

·$1.8 billion in additional funding to be allocated based on weights to address specific student needs.

·$376 million in direct funding for students to receive additional funding allocations to support specific programs, like tutoring.

·$100 million in outcomes funding to be awarded based on achievement to empower schools to help all students reach their full potential.

Additionally, the TISA has reporting and district accountability requirements, including an annual TISA report delivered to the Tennessee General Assembly by the department and individual district-level accountability reports to be submitted by local school boards to the department to establish goals for student achievement in the current school year, explain how the goals can be met within the local budget, and describe how the local budget and expenditures for prior school years enabled districts to progress student outcomes.

Computer science requirement gets committee approval

Legislation to require Tennessee public schools to offer computer science training was recommended by the Senate Education Committee.

Senate Bill 2406 would require the State Board of Education to adopt comprehensive computer science education standards by the 2023-2024 school year.

It would require every high school student to complete a full year of computer science education in order to graduate, starting with freshmen in the 2024-2025 school year. Additionally, middle school students would be required to receive at least one course in computer science education while elementary students would be required to receive age-appropriate computer science education.

At the high-school level, the legislation intends for the computer science requirement to be in lieu of — not in addition to — an existing math or science requirement to be determined by the Board of Education.

Computer science courses may include rudimentary coding as well as lessons on how computers work and the technology behind them.

Currently about half of Tennessee public schools offer computer science training. As stipulated in the bill, the other half of schools not currently offering such training would be provided the resources to do so for free by the Department of Education.

COVID-19 vaccine exemptions — The Senate also passed a bill that will codify medical and religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Last year, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring healthcare workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The order, which was initially enjoined by federal courts before being upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, included provisions that compel employers to honor religious and medical exemptions.

Senate Bill 1823 proposes to codify into state law the executive order’s medical and religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

The bill also goes a step further in assisting those seeking such an exemption by providing a state enforcement mechanism.

Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022 — The Senate passed the Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022 (Senate Bill 2407) requiring public schools to post online a list of the materials in their libraries.

The bill also creates a required standardized review framework to ensure school library collections are periodically evaluated for age-appropriateness.

Should a school find a material is not age-appropriate based on student, parental or employee feedback, then the school would have to remove it. The decision is ultimately up to the school in conjunction with the school board.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville TN 37243, at 615-741-3100, or toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald TN 38462, by phone at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or by e mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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This information is from 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, M.D., R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other area counties. The 112th General Assembly has adjourned for 2022, and it was a v

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