by Jon Styf


Tennessee’s new public school funding program, the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement, continues to move forward and soon rulemaking for the program will begin a review by Tennessee’s Attorney General before publication for 90 days on the Secretary of State’s website.

While many details of TISA were spelled out in legislation passed in April and signed into law in May by Gov. Bill Lee, rulemaking is required to give more detailed specifics on how the funding formula will operate. Those rules passed the Tennessee State Board of Education’s review before moving on to the Attorney General review.

“We held a public and transparent process that included a section-by-section review of all 14 rules written and presented by Department staff during the Board’s July 21 workshop and in (Thursday)’s special called meeting,” said State Board of Education Chair Lillian Hartgrove. “During these sessions, board members asked thoughtful questions and suggested relevant changes that included input from constituents and stakeholders across the state.

“Collectively, we have taken another significant step toward launching a new student-based funding formula. Congratulations to Commissioner Schwinn and the Tennessee Department of Education for their hard work and extensive processes that led to the Board’s unanimous recommendations.”

TISA will create a base per-student cost of $6,860 and add weights based on a students’ learning needs, whether the student lives in a low-income household or area or if the student lives in a rural area.

It will change how the state calculates public school funding from a district-based model that pays for each district to have levels of staffing based on enrollment to a system that will fund per student based on a student’s details.

TISA will begin for the 2023-24 school year, replacing the Basic Education Program, which was created in 1992.

“Thank you to all the Tennesseans who have remained engaged and provided public comment on the rules for the TISA public school funding formula, which puts students at the center of our state’s strategy for funding public education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “As we prepare for the implementation of the TISA formula in the 2023-24 school year, feedback received is essential to ensuring this new public school funding formula serves the needs of all Tennessee students.”

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.
Photo “Metro Nashville Public Schools” by Metro Nashville Public Schools.