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State Review of BEP Raises Questions About Future Funding

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
State Review of BEP Raises Questions About Future Funding

Warren County Director of Schools Grant Swallows said that after 30 years with the BEP model, it is time for a closer look.

Governor Bill Lee called for a review of the state’s funding model for schools on Friday. Swallows said after the announcement Friday, he and other school directors were left with questions.

Swallows said that talk about making more funding available for a student-centered approach to learning is concerning.

“Are we talking about it being merit based?,” Swallows said. “If public schools are not performing at a level that they think we need to perform at, then students can take that money and go to a private school or a charter school or what? That certainly is a concern for us.”

Swallows said the governor mentioned making more funding available for students who want to pursue agriculture, saying he did not understand the reference because that is something that schools already provide.

Swallows said that the top suggestion he would make is to broaden which employees are covered in BEP.

“The BEP doesn’t cover school nurses at the level that we need them to be covered,” Swallows said. “Obviously if we’ve learned anything over the last two years, school nurses are invaluable before two years ago. So those are things that have been suggested all along the way and so I think there can be some tweaks made there.”

Swallows said there will be continued questions about what the results of the review are because of the scale of the funding model. He said that hopefully the way schools and students have changed over the last 30 years will all be considered.

“I think there’s always a little bit of concern when you take on something like this,” Swallows said. “We might end up with a product that still doesn’t get there because I don’t know that there’s a perfect system out there.”

Swallows said that no matter what is decided on, a discussion about BEP at the state level was needed and he appreciates that it will happen. Swallows said that he just hopes that needs and concerns from school directors plays a part in any changes moving forward.


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