McQueen seeks $73 million increase in state education budget, not counting anticipated teacher pay raise

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen wants a third consecutive annual teacher pay raise included in the state budget next year for and new funding to help local school districts pay for Tennessee’s required but unfunded intervention program aimed at keeping struggling students from falling through the cracks, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

McQueen presented her wish list to the governor during budget hearings Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Tennessee is projecting a slowdown in the growth of tax revenue next fiscal year — about $350 million compared to $1 billion this year — but Haslam says that investing in teacher pay continues to be a priority of his two-term administration.

“We want to continue to fund teacher salaries the best we can,” he said following Tuesday’s budget presentations.

McQueen offered up $73 million in specific requests, the bulk of which would cover growth and inflationary costs associated with the state’s funding formula known as the Basic Education Program, or BEP.  The list also includes $10 million for school improvement grants for “priority schools” in the state’s bottom 5 percent, another $6 million to help charter schools pay for facilities for a second year in a row, and almost $4.5 million for the state’s reading initiative in its third year.

But she did not attach dollar amounts for her big-ticket requests like teacher pay and the unfunded program known as Response to Instruction and Intervention, or RTI. She told reporters later that her department will pound out those important details with Haslam’s administration during the months ahead before the governor presents his final spending proposal to lawmakers in February.

One Response to McQueen seeks $73 million increase in state education budget, not counting anticipated teacher pay raise

  • Michael Lottman says:

    This education request does not sound like enough to change anything very dramatically regarding the mediocrity-at-best of our public school system, and as noted makes no specific commitment about raising teacher salaries to acceptable levels and including provisions to ensure that the money is actually devoted to salary increases. It appears that the commissioner still does not view herself as an advocate for public education and remains content to be seen as a “team player.” If the commissioner asks for next to nothing, it is not reasonable for her or anyone else to expect Haslam to say “no, that’s not enough. Here, take this much more.”

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