Lee’s State of the State agenda proposes over $1 billion new recurring funding for K-12 public education

Nashville — Monday night, Gov. Bill Lee proposed more than $1 billion new recurring funding for K-12 public education in Tennessee during his fourth State of the State Address, including a proposal for a new student-based public education funding formula, innovative school models in middle and high schools, new school buildings to get classrooms out of floodplains and a $125 million increase for teacher compensation.

“Tonight, we heard Gov. Bill Lee propose historic investments totaling more than $1 billion for public education to support a comprehensive, responsible plan for improving outcomes for Tennessee students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn.“Gov. Lee has made clear his commitment to ensuring high academic expectations on outcomes for Tennessee students by proposing investments that will make it possible to provide the best for all and put all students on a pathway for success.”

Lee’s budget proposals for K-12 public education includes a $750 million investment in public education and for a new student-based funding formula to invest in Tennessee students, a $500 million investment in Innovative School Models in Tennessee’s middle and high schools, a $200 million investment in communities that have public schools located in floodplains, a $125 million increase in teacher compensation funding and $32 million in facilities funding for public charter schools.  

$750 million investment for public education, new student-based K-12 funding formula

In his annual State of the State address, Lee committed to proposing a student-based K-12 public school funding formula—improving the way Tennessee funds public schools for the first time in more than 30 years.  

Crafted with input from thousands of Tennesseans, the proposed funding formula would allocate funding to districts according to the needs of individual students and will provide greater public transparency around how state funds are spent to support student learning and success.    

$500 million investment to boost opportunities for career readiness and success for students statewide  

Building upon the state’s strong commitment to ensure Tennessee is future workforce ready, Lee is proposing an historic investment to bring Innovative School Models programs to every public high school and middle school in the state, helping ensure students are better prepared, earlier on, to make decisions about their futures.  

By expanding Tennessee’s Innovative School Models aimed at building readiness and preparing students for success after high school, more students will have opportunities to participate in participate in innovative local programs aligned to Tennessee’s highest-demand skills and careers.  

“The future of innovative programs to boost student readiness is now brighter than ever,” said Dr. Jean Luna, Chief of Student Readiness, Tennessee Department of Education. “Through reimagining the high school experience, expanding access to courses and engaging younger students in career exploration, we will continue to build our pipeline and keep our state’s workforce strong.”

$200 million to communities with public schools at high risk of future flooding damage 

Over a weekend in August 2021, several middle Tennessee counties were severely impacted by devastating flooding that destroyed lives, homes, buildings and schools. Fortunately, classrooms and schools that were filled with feet of water within minutes were generally empty.  

Tennessee is committed to providing our students with safe and modern facilities to grow and learn. Lee is proposing $200 million in funding toward contributions to communities that want to relocate public schools in floodplains and get their classrooms out of risk of predictable catastrophic flooding. 

Risk of flood is more predictable than other natural disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes, and floodplains outline where risk of damage can be expected. Currently there are 14 public schools in Tennessee in a floodplain susceptible to being severely damaged or destroyed by future flooding. 

With the use of state and one-time federal relief funds, Tennessee has the opportunity to proactively address anticipated risks to our students and schools and help rebuild schools in locations not susceptible to predicted flooding. 

“Our state is committed to ensuring our students are able to learn in safe and modern school buildings and classrooms,” said Shannon Gordon, Chief Operating Officer, Tennessee Department of Education. “We want to minimize the impact of future flooding on our school buildings to keep our students and educators safe and focused on learning and accelerating achievement.”

$125 million for teacher pay increases across the state

Lee has proposed an increase of $125 million to the amount of state funding available for teacher pay increases for the coming fiscal year.

Educators are important to the success of our schools and success of our students. In classrooms every day, Tennessee teachers rise to the occasion to meet the needs of all students and provide them with a quality education.

$32 million for charter schools facilities funding across the state

Lee continues his commitment to supporting public charter schools by allocating $32 million in facilities funding for Tennessee’s charter schools.  

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