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Dronebarger: Gov. Office Not Interested In BEP, Considering New Formula

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Dronebarger: Gov. Office Not Interested In BEP, Considering New Formula

White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger reported to the school board Thursday that the state is indicating no interest in updating the BEP formula.

Dronebarger serves on the state BEP Review Committee. Dronebarger said Governor Bill Lee is looking into another funding formula.

“We’re not hearing right now that the Governor and the state department really want to talk about the BEP,” Dronebarger said. “They want to talk about creating a whole new system, and that’s pretty alarming to think something that big is going to happen in the next two months to be voted on in the spring legislation session.”

Dronebarger said the committee recommended ratio changes to the BEP formula that would fund more positions such as nurses.

“We believe some simple changes in ratios could drastically increase funding for public education,” Dronebarger said. “For example, the most notable was nurses. We’re funding in the state of Tennessee for one nurse for every 3,000 students, which is ridiculous especially in a pandemic or anytime.”

Dronebarger said White County gets about 1.3 nurse positions funded, but the district has nine to serve the system. Dronebarger said the gap means local money must be used to pay the difference.

“That’s also the cases for guidance counselors,” Dronebarger said. “Again, we get about I think 2.5 guidance counselors for the whole county, and with all the anxiety and things going on these days, we would all agree we need more of those.”

Dronebarger said the committee believed if those ratios were increased and the current budget was kept, it would free up money to pursue needed expenditures. School Board Member Bob Young agreed that the BEP formula is unbalanced.

“This should be something that is on our radar as we go into the next few months,” Young said.

Chairman Jayson McDonald said school board members will have a chance to voice concerns at the Tennessee State Board Association Convention coming November 18th. Dronebarger said he has already contacted local state leaders to start the conversation.


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