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TISA—what does it mean for school funding in Humboldt

by Danny Wade

If you have not heard of TISA, you will over the next month or two. Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) is the new school funding program that Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn are promoting.

This article will be an introduction to TISA and what it means for Humboldt students. Other articles will follow that will focus on certain sections of the plan.

Gov. Lee and Com. Schwinn released the details of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act (SB2396/HB2143) that would transition Tennessee’s K-12 public schools to a student-based funding approach.

TISA will replace the state’s BEP (Basic Education Program) that has been in place for over 30 years as the formula that determines how much money public school systems receive. School districts will receive more state funding through TISA than they do through BEP, according to Gov. Lee.

“Starting in the 2023-24 school year, the TISA would invest an estimated $9 billion in education funding for the state, including state and local funds, which includes $1 billion in new recurring state funds and $750 million in one-time state funds this year,” as stated in a press release from Gov. Lee and Com. Schwinn.

Dr. Janice Epperson, superintendent of Humboldt City Schools, has been going over the new plan with her team, Academic Coordinator Michelle Lewis, CTE Director Wayne Sheehan and Director of Professional Development Jozelda Porter. It has yet to be determined how much state funding HCS will receive under the new funding formula.

Dr. Epperson said after TISA was released, there have already been some modifications. She and her team believe there could be even more modifications once the two bills hit the State Senate floor and State House of Representative floor for a vote.

TISA is a 4-tier program.
•Base funding gives every student the same, strong education foundation.
•Weights ensure every student’s education needs are met.
•Direct funding offers students additional education opportunities
•Outcomes-based funding incentivizes achievement and education excellence.

What does this mean for Humboldt?

Base funding basically funds the necessities for school districts such as teacher salaries, nurses, counselors, technology and other similar needs.

Weight is where things get a little cloudy. This is where the needs of the student translated into more funding. There are four classifications under the “weight” portion of the funding formula: 1 – poverty and concentrated poverty; 2 – rural; 3 – unique learning needs and 4 – charter schools.

Poverty and concentrated poverty carries the highest weight, listed as “heavy”. Humboldt City Schools has a large student population that fit this category.

Rural carries a “moderate” weight. HCS students would fall into this category as well.

Unique learning needs weight category will vary based on the specific student needs. This has a broad range of students that fit this category so many Humboldt students could be included.

Since there are no charter schools in Humboldt, Humboldt City Schools will not receive additional “weight” for this category, which carries a “light” classification. Even though charter schools’ weight is categorized as light, additional funding will be available to support in-classroom services and resources for students. This sounds like another means to funnel more money into charter schools.

Sheehan explained, “The new proposed funding will use a multiplier that will make sure that the educational needs of all students are met.”

Lewis went on to describe the direct funding, “Direct funding is a proposed framework of items or programs that will give additional funding to districts.”

Porter said, “The outcomes-based funding will provide a per-student bonus as student achievement increases.”

Dr. Epperson concluded, “TISA must still go before the House and Senate for approval. I am hopeful that the voices of optimistic superintendents are heard and the legislature takes as much time needed before approval.”

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