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The Center Square [By Jon Styf] –
Tennessee Representatives who were part of a joint committee examining the state rejecting K-12 federal education funding submitted a report on their findings without the signature of one Democrat member.
The report said Tennessee schools will accept $1.3 billion in federal funding this fiscal year, 9.9% of the funding for those schools. The state contributes $6.9 billion and local governments spend $4.8 billion.
The report offered several suggestions to the Legislature, including increasing legislative involvement in the federal grant process to “implement safeguards to protect the state from unwanted federal overreach.”
The report also suggests the state could apply for waivers of federal requirements through the U.S. Department of Education or re-work the state’s plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and have them re-authorized by the federal government, according to a copy posted by Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR.
The House report comes after the Senate members of the joint committee filed a separate report in early January, saying they could not agree with House members on recommendations.
Both reports noted that “there are more questions than definitive answers about what rejecting federal K-12 dollars could mean for Tennessee’s obligations because no state has ever done so,” words that first appeared in Sycamore Institute’s October report on the matter.
Rep. Ronnie Glynn, D-Clarksville, will not sign the House report, he said, because “the hearings made clear how harmful such a move would be to Tennessee’s school children and how detrimental it would be to taxpayers and our state’s budget.”
Reps. Debra Moody, R-Covington, John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, and William Slater, R-Gallatin, signed the House report.
“I cannot support such a fiscally irresponsible proposal that would effectively double-bill Montgomery County families and provide no additional benefit to our students and, in several cases, even less services to those who need them most,” Glynn said in a statement. “I will not support placing more financial burden on the shoulders of local officials and my constituents who would inevitably end up paying higher property taxes.
“If our state has the ability to spend over a billion more dollars annually on public education, then we should invest that money in our public school students, teachers and school buildings. Rejecting federal education dollars is a bad idea and would be a grave mistake.”
About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.