(The Center Square) – A year after receiving $1 billion in additional funding for K-12 education, Tennessee’s Department of Education is asking for a $353.3 million increase in its budget hearing with Gov. Bill Lee and the state’s executive budget team.
The main line item in that increase is $284 million for the state’s new K-12 education funding formula, the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement. That number, however, is a placeholder until the department produces its final numbers in mid-December, according to Commissioner Penny Schwinn.
“We need a few months of data to figure out what that will need to be,” Schwinn said.
Schwinn said that, in future years after TISA begins next fiscal year, the numbers will be known earlier in the budgeting cycle.
The other approximately $70 million in additional recurring funds requested from the department would go toward programs that are either currently funding by one-time federal funds or are funded through other partnerships with the department looking to gauge the Lee Administration’s desire to continue the programs that have been successful.
That includes $10 million apiece for summer bus transportation, Imagination Library and Tennessee All Corps ELA and Math Networks along with approximately $5 million apiece for the states Grow Your Own teacher training program, Advanced Placement for All and a public broadcasting system.
A line item of $7.6 million for charter school expansion was also included in the request without further details.
The summer bus funding would help schools, especially rural school with longer summer routes, to fund busing for additional summer schooling programs related to learning loss in recent years.
The Grow Your Own program also has federal funding. In the first 18 months of the program, Schwinn said that future teachers involved have been assigned to fill 650 teaching vacancies in the state.
There are 250 teachers signed up for the statewide apprenticeship session that will begin in January with 180 of those going to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Grow Your Own Center, which helps smaller districts that cannot manage the program with their own current administrative staffing to also use the program.
The department works with the Niswonger Foundation in what is now the second year of the Advanced Placement Access for All program that helps students statewide have free access to 14 different AP offerings online.
Students take the class at their school but also can choose from classes that their school does not offer. More than 1,800 students statewide enrolled in the program this fall after 1,200 took the classes in its first year with 90% of the state’s schools participating.