TCSA 2017 Legislative Platform

Education Funding & School Employee Insurance

Understanding the critical role a quality public education system plays in the preservation of health and economic viability of our communities, TCSA supports the complete and full funding of the Basic Education Program (BEP). This includes support for continued annual inflationary growth in both state and local match portions of the BEP formula, as well as the capital outlay component of the formula.

It is hoped that the Administration and General Assembly will regard Tennessee counties as partners in offering local education opportunities to our children and would recognize that county governments continue to invest far more than statutorily required in our public education system. This commitment is evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted annually “above and beyond” the basic amounts deemed necessary as a local match by the BEP formula.

TCSA supports efforts to ensure quality teachers in every classroom by providing competitive salaries and benefits for Tennessee teachers. While the state funds 70 percent of instructional salaries for positions generated by the BEP formula, TCSA would point out that every school system in Tennessee hires significantly more teachers than the formula generates and pays them more than the formula recognizes. For the 2015-2016 school year, school systems hired more than 14,000 more teachers that the formula generated. In addition, despite recent investments and a commitment by the Haslam Administration to improve teacher salaries, the funding component provided in the formula for an instructional position remains thousands of dollars below the actual salaries being paid in Tennessee schools. TCSA would ask for the General Assembly and the Administration to join local governments in investing more in teacher salaries and enhance the instructional salary component in the BEP to more closely reflect the actual salaries being paid by local education agencies in Tennessee.

TCSA asks the General Assembly and the Administration to be cognizant of the fact that the significant number of changes and educational reforms being implemented in Tennessee has placed tremendous stress on Local Education Agencies. These reforms are applauded for their intent to improve educational outcomes in all Tennessee classrooms and help our state maintain its ability to compete in a global economy. However, the resources to meet these efforts have not been adequately funded. Funding for technology, for positions to implement Response to Instruction and Intervention programs, for English Language Learning services and other areas where new demands are placed on school systems has been inadequate.

TCSA has concerns that an expansive pursuit of school choice options that divert state and local public school funds out of traditional classrooms without providing supplemental funding will damage the long-term fiscal well-being of the local education agency as a whole and will erode the desired gains of many of the educational reforms currently being implemented in our schools. TCSA asks the Administration and General Assembly to make a comprehensive study of how alternative educational options, like vouchers, virtual schools and charter schools, impact the ability of a local education agency to plan, provide and fund the underlying traditional K-12 system. While many have said with regard to school choice options that the funding would follow the student, there has not been a serious examination of whether the costs follow that student who leaves the traditional classroom and takes the associated state and local funding with them. Our concern is the state is left without further funding obligations, while locals must maintain some dual financial obligations.

   

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