Press Releases

Tennessee House Applauded for Putting Vacant Buildings to use for Public School Students

NASHVILLE — Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) released the following statement to support today’s vote by the State House approving legislation that will ensure public charter school students have access to the same quality school facilities that other students have. State Senators approved SB0135/HB1191 earlier this year and once signed by Governor Lee, it will provide charters with improved access to underutilized and vacant buildings that school districts are not using.

“This legislation is truly a game changer for public charter schools in Tennessee and we’d like to applaud the leadership members of both chambers in the Tennessee General Assembly showed to stand in support of the more than 40 thousand students who attend these schools,” said TSS President and CEO Lana Skelo. “Public charter schools in Tennessee do not receive local dollars for facilities like traditional public schools and this legislation creates a commonsense solution to the problem too many charters face in diverting student funds to facilities instead of having the ability to provide students a safe and appropriate space where learning can take place. Instead of empty taxpayer-funded buildings, students across the state will now go to school each day in a facility that’s designed to be a school.”

Tennessee is currently only meeting 50% of public charter school facility needs. Since public charter schools have become an increasingly popular choice option for parents, this gap will continue to widen, with only 42% of needs projected to be met in five years.

The legislation will address the charter facility challenge by:

  • Providing a clear definition of “vacant and underutilized facilities.”
  • Allowing public charter schools access to these facilities at or below fair market value, reducing the need to reconfigure non-school facilities to meet school needs.
  • Requiring school districts with public charter schools to provide a list of vacant and underutilized buildings on an annual basis.

Tennesseans for Student Success is a statewide network of teachers, parents, community leaders, and volunteers who are dedicated to supporting, championing, and fighting for Tennessee’s students and their futures.

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