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Tennessee lawmakers to continue discussion on school funding formula

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) — Discussions will continue Monday on Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to change the way public schools are funded.

This comes after a discussion last week in the Tennessee House of Representatives, where it became clear that not everyone agrees with how quickly things are moving.

Lee and his administration are pushing for a major change in the state’s education funding formula.

“The formula is simple. It fits in a file like this,” Lee said last month. “It’s not bulky, bureaucratic legislation.”

Last week, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn appeared before the House Education Committee to discuss the governor’s proposal, known as the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Program, or TISA. .

Schwinn says TISA is designed to enable students to read proficiently by third grade, prepare high school graduates for higher education, and provide necessary resources for all students.

The plan would provide $9 billion in state and local funding for education, including $1.8 billion for students who need extra support, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.

Legislators had many questions and some shared concerns about how quickly the process for adopting a new funding formula is moving.

“You have been doing this for six months. I mean, you rushed a lot of meetings,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville. “I have a lot of people who feel like their voices haven’t been heard, the committee recommendations of those 18 sub-committees, some of those final reports, the needs that haven’t been addressed. What is the urgency? »

Schwinn says many of the recommendations in Lee’s plan were first mentioned in a task force report eight years ago under former Governor Bill Haslam.

She says it’s time to act.

“And so, year after year, it’s been the same,” Schwinn said. “It really comes down to the boldness and courage to actually want to take action and make sure the kids in Tennessee right now, kids like mine and yours and everyone else who’s sitting in the classrooms right now are enjoying real action.”

Schwinn will head to the Senate on Monday to continue his campaign.

The funding formula must be heard and discussed in seven different committees before it can be voted on by the full House and Senate.

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