Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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Community Members Voice Concerns About Funding At BEP Town Hall

A local attorney said it is important public tax dollars continue to fund public schools at Tuesday night’s BEP Town Hall.

Anne Austin said she worries that there’s more to the idea of revisiting the BEP formula.

“I am a strong proponent of a strong public education system,” Austin said. “That means funding it with taxpayer dollars whether they’re federal dollars, state dollars, or local dollars, getting the money in there. Education is the most important thing for our democracy. We need an educated citizenry to have a strong democracy.”

Austin said that one concern is that in a new formula money will be siphoned off from public schools to private and charter schools. She said that those such schools only serve a limited number of students.

Austin said that with a funding system that is 30 years old, it should be updated. However, she said that the state should explore fully funding the system before scrapping it completely.

“We have to have equity in funding, and we need more funding,” Austin said. “Tenessee has a huge rainy day fund, and I understand there’s a lawsuit now, I’m an attorney so I’m attuned to those sort of things, and the state’s very concerned about that. We have a rainy day fund that can take care of that and if education is not what we spend it on, then I don’t know what we spend it on. There is nothing more important than education.”

Austin said that there needs to be funding for other school programs outside of core subjects. Cumberland County Schools CFO Kacee Harris said that students should have to decide between having art classes or PE classes.

“My kids are in a really small district,” Harris said. “And they had to choose between art and P.E. teachers. So I don’t have cute refrigerator art. And that’s something that’s important that creative process for this kids but also the whole experience, the culture of going to school.”

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