Governor adds $30M to education budget to cover part of lawsuit contention

Days after seven Southeast Tennessee school systems filed a lawsuit against the state claiming inadequate state funding of education, Gov. Bill Haslam has added $30 million in education funding to his budget plan for the next year.
The money would cover payments for 11 months of health insurance for teachers. One of the points in the lawsuit is teacher insurance.

From The Tennessean:

The state (currently) pays 45 percent of health insurance premiums for 10 months, meaning local districts and teachers statewide are left with the brunt of insurance costs.

Haslam’s announcement to address teacher health insurance comes a little more than a week after representatives of the four largest districts in the state met with Haslam to discuss funding inadequacies in the BEP. The next day, seven Hamilton County-area school districts filed suit against the state because of what they see as inadequate funding of the program and state’s schools.

A main complaint of the funding inadequacy debate lies in teacher health insurance and pay, which some say is underfunded by $500 million.

“Funding teacher insurance is one of the two major concerns we shared with the governor last week, and it was the top recommendation of the BEP committee,” said Jesse Register, Metro Schools director. “This is the first step toward solving it. Reaching a full solution will take time and cooperation, but together we can come up with a substantive plan to properly fund public education in Tennessee.

“It also confirms for me that a lawsuit is the wrong direction to take. As today proves, more can be accomplished by working together than in the courts.”

But even with 11 months on the table, Metro Schools board member Anna Shepherd said Haslam’s move is only a baby step.

“He knows we need 12 and that we need the full funding,” Shepherd said. “That is the bottom line.”