By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal that would make cutting some students’ lottery scholarships in half contingent on lottery revenues passed the Senate 20-10 Monday evening, despite criticism that the increase in revenues may not be consistent.
The legislation, sponsored by Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville, was approved 20-10. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Education Committee.
An original proposal sought to reduce by 50 percent the award for students who do not meet both standardized testing and high school grade requirements. A special panel of lawmakers recommended the proposal in November.
Right now, students can get a scholarship worth $4,000 for each of four years if they either earn a 3.0 grade point average in high school or score a 21 on their ACT college entrance exam.
Under the new legislation, the lottery scholarship requirements won’t change if lottery proceeds match, or exceed, the previous year’s through 2015.
Tennessee Lottery officials said in a news release earlier on Monday that proceeds have reached $234 million, or were up $22 million, over this time last year. That means proceeds next year must be at least $22 million to keep from triggering Gresham’s proposal.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House sponsor of a proposal that seeks to cut some students’ lottery scholarships in half said Wednesday that he supports an amendment that would make such a move contingent on lottery revenues.
The original bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Education Subcommittee. Republican Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville delayed the measure from last week to give lawmakers a chance to review the amendment that has been approved in the Senate.
The original legislation sought to reduce by 50 percent the award for students who do not meet both standardized testing and high school grade requirements. A special panel of lawmakers recommended the proposal in November.
Under the new legislation, the lottery scholarship requirements won’t change if lottery proceeds of at least $10 million are sustained through 2015.
“I’ve read it and I like the amendment,” Brooks said.
From a Rick Locker report:
State policymakers examined a plan today that would cut in half the $4,000 per year Hope Scholarship at four-year colleges and universities for some students. Impacted would be those who achieve only one of the two eligibility criteria — either a 21 on the ACT college entrance exam or a 3.0 high school grade-point average — but not both.
The proposal was presented to the state Senate Lottery Stabilization Task Force today as another option for closing an $18 million-a-year deficit in what the scholarship program now costs and what the Tennessee Lottery generates for the program. But the task force won’t make its recommendation until next month, and nothing will be final until the state legislature approves the changes during its 2012 session.
Currently in Tennessee, high school graduates who make either 21 on the ACT or have a 3.0 high school GPA qualify for the base $4,000 per year Hope Scholarship at four-year institutions in Tennessee and $2,000 at two-year schools. The policy option presented to the task force this afternoon would require students to achieve both standards to qualify for the full base $4,000 scholarship at four-year schools.
Students who achieve only one of the two standards would receive only $2,000 per year at either four- or two-year schools, but they could start earning the $4,000 grant starting with their third year of college provided they have met the current retention standards for the program during their first two years of college.
That change, officials said, would “incentivize” students who don’t achieve both standards to attend their first two years at a community college where data indicates they will have a better chance of academic success — and then transfer to a four-year school to pursue baccalaureate degrees. When fully implemented, it would save the lottery program about $17 million a year.
But the sentiment was not unanimous. David Gregory, an administrator with the Tennessee Board of Regents, said data indicates the change would “disproportionately affect African-American” students and low-income students.
Note: The full CA story is HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new scholarship for students at the University of Tennessee College of Law has been funded by former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White, now a law professor at UT.
The first $1,000 White Scholarship will be awarded to a student this fall, according to an announcement by the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation.
Former Circuit Court Judge Steve Daniel, who serves as president of the foundation, said White serves as a shining example for those who are committed to helping people pursue a legal career.
White first served in Tennessee’s 1st Judicial District, which includes Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. She was then appointed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and then to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Reported by Richard Locker:
The state Senate today approved a school voucher bill that allows lower-income students to take half of the taxpayer money spent per pupil in their school district – about $5,400 per year in Memphis and $4,300 in Knox County — to any private, church-sponsored or other independent school that will accept them.
As written, the bill will initially apply only to students whose household income qualifies them for free or reduced-price school lunches, and only to students in Tennessee’s four largest counties: Shelby, Davidson, Knox and Hamilton. School districts in all four counties, including Memphis City Schools, opposed the bill.
Today’s 18-10 Senate approval of SB 485 is the first time a school-voucher bill has been approved by either Tennessee legislative chamber. The House Education subcommittee is scheduled to review the bill next Wednesday, and to become law, the bill must also pass the House of Representatives. (Added Note: Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey predicted it will pass there, 7-6.)
Its Senate sponsor, Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, calls the measure the “Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act” and declared on the Senate floor today that it’s a “windfall” for school districts because they retain half of the per-pupil expenditure from state and local taxpayers for each student who leaves.
But Democratic Sens. Roy Herron, Dresden, and Andy Berke, Chattanooga, disputed the “windfall” assertion, arguing that virtually all the fixed costs of educating students – buildings, utility bills, school buses, teachers — must still be paid if students leave. Kelsey’s bill as originally drafted directed 95 percent of the per-pupil spending to follow the student but an amendment reduced it to 50 percent.