Watch the full meeting recording here.

Read the 2021 BEP Review Committee Annual Report here.

1. The 2021 BEP Review Committee’s priority recommendations are increased funding for (1) school nurses, (2) counselors, (3) Response to Intervention and Instruction (RTI2), (4) teacher compensation, and (5) technology and accessibility.  

The October meeting was dedicated to reviewing the 2021 BEP Review Committee Annual ReportMembers took an individual survey in July and discussed priorities in August before reviewing and revising the annual report during the October meeting. These recommendations have been similar since 2017, except for holding LEA funding harmless, which appeared in the 2020 report. Specifically, the Committee recommends funding school nurses and counselors at a level closer to national best practices. During the Tennessee Funding Review Mid-Cumberland Public Town Hall, multiple speakers shared their desire for more support staff funding, including nurses and counselors. 

2. Teacher weighted average salary decreased between 2020 and 2021 due to a reduction in teachers with high levels of experience.

In addition to the specific recommendations, The BEP Review Committee Annual Report provides a helpful and comprehensive analysis of teacher pay. The report finds that teacher weighted average salary decreased between 2020 and 2021 due to a reduction in the percentage of teachers with high experience levels. Additionally, they note the BEP instructional salary component did not increase in 2020-21. Therefore, it is important that Tennessee retain experienced teachers so students can benefit from their experience and high-quality instruction.  

3. Tennessee currently ranks 7 out of 12 Southeastern states in average annual instructional staff salaries in 2019-2020 and is projected to maintain 7th place in 2020-2021. 

Using National Education Association (NEA) data, Georgia ($63,557) and Virginia ($59,874) currently lead and are projected to continue leading the region in instructional staff salaries compared to Tennessee at $54,577. Tennessee is close to the regional average, which is $55,168. This estimation includes teachers, principals, and supervisors and uses data from the previous year to predict rankings. While state data may vary slightly, the BEP Report notes that it is the most reliably reported data available to make state comparisons.

4.Nashville, Dyersburg, and Chattanooga, all with school districts with a majority percentage of students of color, decreased teacher compensation disparities between themselves and neighboring school systems. 

Well-supported teachers are critical. Districts may not be able to recruit and retain high-quality teachers if their pay is not competitive. However, it is promising to see that districts were able to decrease the gap.

5. Given the Governor’s call to revise the BEP formula, it is unclear what role the BEP Review Committee will play in that process, and how their recommendations will be incorporated. 

The BEP Review Committee has been studying the state funding formula since 2005.On October 12th, 2021, the Governor and Commissioner announced 18 funding review subcommittees to review the state’s education funding formula and explore revisions. Some subcommittee members also serve on the BEP Review Committee, but it is unclear if the existing BEP review committee will collaborate within the new process or continue to exist beyond 2021. The BEP Review Committee plans to draft a letter to state leaders and discuss more at the December meeting. 

Equity Considerations: 

  • Increased funding for school nurses, counselors, RTI2, teacher compensation, and technology accessibility has the potential to increase education quality across the state. Additionally, transparency increases access to decision-making to equitably distribute resources. 
  • How can the BEP Review Committee’s Annual Reports and other resources inform upcoming revisions to the BEP funding formula?
  • How will the BEP Review Committee collaborate with the 18 funding review subcommittees?
  • If the recommendations are included in the new formula, how will it ensure that districts receive equitable allocations according to the Committee’s recommendations?
  •  Is it possible to disaggregate instructional staff data by groups like race and gender and district/city data by student groups currently tracked by TDOE (e.g., percentage of English learners) to understand better how BEP and other analyses impact different students and staff?