Tag Archives: formula

Comptroller: School Funding Formula Needs Fixing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Comptroller Justin Wilson says Tennessee’s school funding formula is fraught with complexity and a lack of transparency that could lead to either inadvertent or intentional errors in distributing state money.
Wilson said in a letter to Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman this week that the department should take steps to enhance the accuracy of the funding formula that determines how $3.8 billion is directed to school districts around the state.
The comptroller’s study found that average attendance figures –which play a key role in determining how much state money flows to schools — are self-reported, and that there is little the state can do to verify those numbers.
Wilson said Education Department and state lawmakers should work on ways to improve the formula without making it more complicated.

Huffman Dodges Sevier Appeal for More State Money

While Sevier County officials say they feel like they’re making progress convincing state education officials to make some changes in school funding, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman remained noncommittal Monday, reports the Mountain Press..
Huffman, who was in the area to be part of the Tennessee Superintendent Study Council Conference, said he has had “helpful” sessions with people representing Sevier County, but dodged offering an opinion on the subject.
Whether he was just being coy or actually has not yet made up his mind on the matter, his refusal to weigh-in may be a disappointment to local folks hoping for a few extra school dollars. After pushing for more than four years for a change to the school funding model used by the state, local officials were optimistic that this could be the one when something actually changes.
They have Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, chairing the House Education Committee and believed they found a willing ally in Huffman.
“I’m waiting to hear back from the commissioner as to what we’re going to do,” Montgomery said of Huffman recently. “Hopefully we can continue moving this football down the field and toward the goal line.”
Montgomery indicated local officials were able to find some agreement with Huffman on at least one area of the funding program in question and remained optimistic a full solution could be reached.
…The guarded responses are not wholly unexpected. For one thing, it’s unlikely someone in a position like the commissioner’s would publicly jump on board in support of a funding change requested by one county before an official decision has been made. That’s particularly true when Gov. Bill Haslam, who could not attend the superintendents’ meeting because he was negotiating on state bond issues Monday, hasn’t offered his own opinion on the matter.
Note: The current formula for providing state aid to local education systems provides more money to systems with less ability to pay on their own. Sevier County gets to keep an extra portion of the state sales taxes collected – much if it from Smoky Mountains tourists – and has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. Thus, it works out that Sevier gets less state funding per pupil than other systems – which does not sit well with local folks