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School Funding Town Hall Raises Questions About Local Match

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
School Funding Town Hall Raises Questions About Local Match

School and county leaders from across the Upper Cumberland came together Wednesday to talk about the issues of a new state funding formula for education.

The meeting focused on the local match component that every county has to provide. The consensus to state officials: more information was needed both on how the modeling is done now and how it will change.

“They’re asking us to buy into this new funding formula but they’re not giving us enough information,” Putnam Director of Schools Corby King said. “About what that will look like, how it will impact tour students, our school system, our local funding body, what’s that share going to look like.”

King said that it’s hard to have these conversations without seeing numbers first. He said that there are major concerns with how the local match will affect the local tax base. King said that’s both from the school system’s perspective and how country leaders view the issue.

Chief of Districts and Schools Dr. Eve Carney and Operations Deputy Commissioner Sam Pearcey attended Wednesday’s meeting from the Nashville office.

One tool the state uses to calculate local funding amounts is a county’s fiscal capacity. Fiscal capacities are determined using financial models TACIR and CBER. One request made by several district representatives was more information on the two indexes. King said they want to better understand how fiscal capacities are calculated.

“We’re hoping that they will provide us some sessions around how TASIR and CBER indexes are calculated, I’m sure we have econ in the area to explain, but most of our local funding body cannot, I can’t explain how they determine the ability to pay for our district, and that’s going to go back to every district in there has a different per penny rate, what that generates, to determine how we can pay. But we all ask a lot from our taxpayers and any type of tax increase comes with a lot of negative feedback, for good reason, unless we can tell the taxpayers where that money is going to go.”

Typically, sources for local funding come from property tax, local option sales tax, wheel tax, and investment income. Carney said that fiscal capability does not determine that taxes will be raised but simply looks at how much a county has the ability to raise them.

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