Governor Lee showed strong leadership and clear student focus last night when he called for a $1 billion recurring investment in K-12 education funding and committed to modernizing the 30-year-old Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula. SCORE sees a legislative package emerging that addresses two of our recommendations for fixing the BEP: funding students rather than a list of resources and increasing the recurring state investment in a new formula. The governor’s leadership is moving the state toward a student-weighted approach to funding that we believe can drive greater success for students in public schools. We applaud the governor’s bold recommendations.
We are also eager to see additional details. SCORE will be working to ensure that other funding recommendations — weights to support students with the greatest learning needs, better reporting and transparency on spending, and a resolution to longtime challenges with the local capacity calculations — are front and center in continued funding reform discussions.
Increasing student achievement and postsecondary readiness through growing high-quality charter school opportunities is also a major priority this year for SCORE. We are pleased that the governor has proposed a historic $32 million investment in the charter school facilities fund, with $16 million recurring.
Finally, we are heartened that Governor Lee addressed key needs for better preparing our students for college, career, and life. He proposes a large one-time funding infusion for career and technical education and an investment in Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to eliminate enrollment waitlists that delay and sometimes derail students on their chosen career paths, a significant challenge we hear when talking to students. Other important higher education investments are fully funding the outcomes-based funding formula, increasing the value of the HOPE Scholarship, expanding research-supported completion strategies like Knox Promise, and expanding workforce readiness opportunities in K-12 and higher education.
We look forward to working with the Tennessee General Assembly, Governor Lee and his team, and partners across the state to advance success for students in the days to come.
David Mansouri is president and CEO of SCORE.