Haslam appoints task force to study state’s education funding formula; Democrat protests lack of teachers

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the creation of a task force to study the Basic Education Program (BEP), which is the state’s funding formula for K-12 schools.

The most recent revision to the BEP, known as BEP 2.0, was adopted in 2007. The formula takes factors such as local property and sales tax revenue into account when calculating how much money Tennessee school districts will receive from the state each year. A number of districts, both large and small, have raised questions and concerns about the formula and whether it distributes funds in a fair and equitable manner.

“The last significant revision of the BEP was seven years ago, and education in Tennessee has changed a lot since then,” Haslam said. “It is the appropriate time to take a fresh look at the formula, identify strengths and weaknesses and determine whether or not changes should be made.”

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will chair the task force, and members will include:

• Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), chairman, House Education Committee

• David Connor, executive director, Tennessee County Services Association

• Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville), chairman, Senate Education Committee

• Chris Henson, chief financial officer, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

• Kevin Krushenski, research analyst, Tennessee Municipal League

• Larry Martin, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration

• Gary Nixon, executive director, State Board of Education

• Larry Ridings, Tennessee School Systems for Equity

• Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick, executive director, Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations

• Justin Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasury

• Mark Cate, chief of staff, Governor’s Office (ex officio member)

“We want to make sure we are distributing funds in the right way,” Huffman said. “This task force will look at the distribution of available resources in a responsible manner.”

The task force will meet over the course of this year and will make recommendations to the governor by the end of the year.

UPDATE: Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson says the panel should include teachers. News release below.

News release from House Democratic Caucus:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – State Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) released the following statement following the Governor’s announcement of a newly created task force on BEP 2.0:

“Once again the Haslam administration has shown a complete disregard to the valued input of our teachers. There is not a single active teacher on a panel whose job it is to understand the needs in our classrooms and schools.

“This is more of the top-down education approach that parents and teachers in Knoxville and across Tennessee are rejecting. When dealing with an issue as important as school funding, parents, teachers and school boards should be at the table if we are going to achieve lasting solutions.”