TISA awaiting legislative approval, governor’s signature
Humboldt City Schools projected to receive a minimum of over $600,00 in additional funding
by Danny Wade
This is the second article in a series on Tennessee’s new public education school funding program, TISA (Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement). This is the program Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn are promoting.
TISA will replace the 30-year-old funding formula, BEP (Basic Education Program) and is based on a four-tier framework pyramid. The lower (largest) slice of the pyramid is “base” funding. The next portion (second largest) is “weights” funding for students with unique learning needs. The third segment is “direct funding”. The final partition, the top of the pyramid, is “outcomes funding”, the least amount of funding within the overall funding.
Two bills have been introduced in the Tennessee Legislature—one in the House of Representatives and another in the Senate. Last week, the Senate passed their bill with two amendments. Humboldt City Schools superintendent, Dr. Janice Epperson said both amendments should benefit Humboldt schools and the students. She said the House was expected to vote on the bill since Governor Lee wants to have the state’s budget approved by March 29.
Dr. Epperson, along with two members of the team, Academic Coordinator Michelle Lewis and Director of Professional Development Jozelda Porter, discussed TISA and how TISA funding and the amendments will affect Humboldt students.
One amendment in the Senate’s bill removed charter school funding from the “weights” segment and moved it into the direct funding section. This should give public schools additional funding.
The second amendment added a new classification for test results, “approaching”. A good number of Humboldt students may fall into this new category.
The House must pass their bill and Governor Lee must sign bills into law before they take affect for the 2023-24 school year.
Under TISA, Dr. Epperson said Humboldt City Schools receives $6,860 per student enrolled, the same as the current BEP. But with the new formula, HCS will receive an additional $607,552.55 system wide. Even more dollars could be coming Humboldt’s way once the “weights” formula is calculated. There are factors that will determine if students will qualify for more funding.
•Economically disadvantaged – These are students who are eligible through direct certification, which includes assistance programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) or temporary assistance for needy families. Other qualifications include homeless, foster, runaway or migrant students.
Dr. Epperson believes many Humboldt students will fit into this classification.
•Concentration of poverty – These are students who attend schools eligible for Title 1 school-wide designation with high numbers of children from low income families.
Dr. Epperson does not think Humboldt will qualify for this category.
•Sparse – This is for school systems with 25 students or less per square mile.
•Small – These are school systems with less than 600 students.
•Unique learning needs – There are 10 unique learning needs that have yet to be announced but is designed to be a ‘crosswalk’ between TISA and BEP.
Dr. Epperson and her team feel like Humboldt could receive additional funding due to these classifications. She also noted that the same student may fall into more than one category, meaning those students would be counted multiple times.
As you can see, school funding is extremely complicated. It will take school officials and the state a while to determine exactly how much funding each school system will receive. The good news is that TISA does not go into effect until the 2023-24 school year. This will give everyone more time to dig deeper into the funding formulas and hopefully have a plan in place once the program is implemented.
But the first step is for the Tennessee House and Senate to pass their respective bills and Gov. Lee signing it into law.