More State Business Stuff

This is a very interesting article about the BEP Program:

State Commission Report: State and Local Education Funding for K-12 Exceeded Basic Education Program Requirements by $2.1 Billion in 2017-18

March 9, 2020 Laura Baigert

According to a state commission report that studied education funding for fiscal year 2017-2018, the combined state and local government funding exceeded the Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula by $2.1 billion.

The report, “K-12 Public Education Funding and Services,” was prepared by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) at the request of then Chairman of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee Charles Sargent in April 2018.

TACIR was created by the General Assembly in 1978 in response to a need for a permanent intergovernmental body to study and take action on questions of organizational patterns, powers, functions and relationships among federal, state and local governments.

TACIR consists of 25 members, including state and local government officials as well as private citizens.

The staff of about two dozen, with an annual salary cost of about $2 million, includes seven in the office of the executive director, ten researchers, four research consultants and a senior public policy consultant.

TACIR’s K-12 education funding report, which reviewed the 2017-2018 fiscal year running July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, was released in January 2020.

The BEP formula was laid out in the Education Improvement Act of 1992, although with its few imposed earmarks to local school boards, it is “properly characterized as a funding formula, not a spending plan,” says the report.
Revenues in fiscal 2017-2018 for K-12 public education totaled $10.2 billion, $1.2 billion from the federal government, $4.9 billion from the state and $4.1 billion from local governments.

At 95 percent, nearly all state revenues local school systems receive is through the BEP formula, which also requires a level of local matching funds for Tennessee’s 141 public school systems.

Of the $2.1 billion of funding above and beyond the BEP formulate requirements, $400 million was from the state, while $1.7 billion was local revenue.

TACIR’s report goes on to say that at $1,396 per student, Tennessee spends only 75 percent of the $1,959 national average per student.
What the TACIR report doesn’t mention is that Tennessee – recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report number one for fiscal stability – has spending on K-12 education as a percentage of all expenditures at 20.6 percent against a national average of 21.5 percent, according to National Center for Education Statistics.

TACIR reports that meeting local needs as well as requirements by the state and federal governments often requires more resources than the BEP formula provides.

The four categories and the split for state and local funding, while varied over time, are currently set as follows:

Instructional salary – 70 percent state, 30 percent local
Instructional benefits – 70 percent state, 30 percent local
Classroom – 75 percent state, 25 percent local
Non-classroom – 50 percent state, 50 percent local

A table in the TACIR report shows that over a ten-year period, the total split of BEP funding is consistently 65 percent from the state and 34 percent from local governments, the difference being in fractional percentages. The report does not, however, indicate whether the percentages are reflective of the splits over the four categories.

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