TSS Blog

Sycamore Institute: Statewide TISA requires less local spending

We continue to monitor The Tennessee Investment in School Achievement (TISA) Act (SB2396/HB2143) as it passes through the House and Senate this week. Last week, we discussed the much-needed accountability measures provided by TISA. Today we focus on the local contribution discussion likely to take place in the House Government Operations Committee today, as highlighted in the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee discussion later this week.

Fiscal Capacity

TISA faced passionate debate in the House Education Administration committee last week. Rep. Clemmons (Nashville) and Rep. Love (Nashville) urged the committee to consider the impact to urban, densely populated districts. Historically, urban districts have cited the BEP for failure to include cost of living into fiscal capacity determinations. According to The Sycamore Institute, an independent, nonpartisan policy research center based in Tennessee, “[fiscal capacity] helps school districts with different revenue-raising potential to spend roughly the same amount per pupil on education.” TSS believes that capping or lessening this equalization would ultimately deprive smaller and rural districts from much needed state funding.

Higher Need Students

Large, urban districts have also historically cited the BEP for lack of funding for students that are more expensive to educate – such as low-income, English Language Learners (ELLs), and students with disabilities. Ratio and average-based funding formulas, like the current BEP, require districts to unevenly distribute funds across multiple schools.  Doing so leaves locals responsible to make up the difference to fully fund personnel and classroom needs, outside of the funding formula. Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), utilizes a student-based budgeting model to more equitably distribute funding to its schools.

Matching funding to the needs of the students is something we have been doing at MNPS for several years to create a more equitable public school system here in Nashville… Moving towards a student-based budgeting model has the potential to close historic resource gaps that have existed for far too long in public education.  
Chris Henson, CFO, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Less Local Spending

According to the most recent brief by The Sycamore Institute, “On a statewide basis, the proposed new formula [TISA] actually requires less local spending than the BEP does.” In effect and unlike the BEP, TISA will facilitate predictable budgeting at the local level, which over time could facilitate more meaningful application of state-level contributions. The needs of schools will always to be variable. TISA can adapt to meet those needs intuitively, a flexibility not seen in the BEP.

To learn more about TISA and join our current list of supporters, visit us at our Fuel Our Future page.

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