Monday, May 20, 2024
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Dronebarger: Exciting Time To See Lee’s School Funding Formula

White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said finally getting specifics from state officials on the new education formula answered some of his concerns.

“The framework helps now knowing to see how it’s broken down,” Dronebarger said. “At the point I think we spoke about this last, it was just there was just this grand formula coming and you’re going to love it and you just have to trust us and take our word for it. So now we have a framework. At least we see how it is broken down. It makes a little more sense.”

Under the new formula, a base amount of $6,860 will go to each student. Dronebarger said students in the White County District currently receive about $8,900. Dronebarger said the difference concerns him, but the base amount does not include weighted measures. The system was set to receive those from the state Thursday afternoon.

“Some students where they only generate $6,800, others may generate 10 to 15 thousand,” Dronebarger said. “In the end, we expect that to average out to more than what we are spending per student at this point. The Governor and the Commissioner have assured all districts would not receive less money then they did in the past. That all districts would be getting more money out of this new formula, so we’ve got to think that there is enough weight and direct categories added on to other students.”

An economically disadvantaged county and sparse population density two weights that could multiple the base amount. Dronebarger said he believes the county would fall under both categories as well as others.

“There is some other things there,” Dronebarger said. “A lot of our students with special needs, there will be some extra learning needs that they call those that will be added on there, as well. We’ll see some direct things as far as our K-2 students will get a little bonus for the focus for early literacy.”

Governor Bill Lee unveiled the new system Thursday called the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Formula. It also rewards fourth grade tutoring programs, ACT scores and CTE bonuses. The funding also addresses additional nursing and counselor positions.

The new formula will now go into committee before being considered by the General Assembly.

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