Press Releases

Tennessee Senate Applauded for Supporting Fair School Building Access for Students

NASHVILLE — Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) released the following statement in support of the State Senate’s passage of legislation designed to ensure public charter school students have access to the same quality school facilities that other students have. SB0135/HB1191 would provide charters with improved access to underutilized and vacant buildings that school districts are not using.

“Public charter schools in Tennessee do not receive local dollars for facilities like traditional public schools. Because charters serve higher percentages of economically disadvantaged and students of color, this creates school inequities for the very students who need our support the most,” said incoming TSS President and CEO Lana Skelo. “We applaud each Senator who stood up for a commonsense solution to this problem. Instead of empty taxpayer-funded school buildings, this puts those buildings to their best and intended use while boosting funds for local school districts.”

Tennessee is 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 would 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.

This legislation still needs approval in the Tennessee House, and we look forward to successful passage in the House, Ways, and Means Subcommittee next week.

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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