The Knox County Board of Education has identified the following legislative priorities for 2020:
Funding for Public Education
The Knox County Board of Education believes it is crucial to the future of our state that the Legislature invests more in public education, to adequately fund our public schools.
State-mandated programs or added responsibilities must, without exception, be accompanied by 100% state funding for all direct and indirect costs, and without corresponding reduction of state financial support in any other areas of public education. Waivers should occur whenever 100% state funding is not received.
State legislative bodies and regulatory agencies should determine the full impact on local school systems before taking action on proposed legislation, regulations and guidelines related to education.
The Knox County Board of Education urges the General Assembly to amend the BEP formula to include:
- Full Funding for Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) positions within school districts.
- Funding for School Nurses, Counselors, Social Workers, and Mental Health Professionals:
- School Nurses: 1 nurse per 750 students (recommendation of the BEP Review Committee, the National Association of School Nurses, the American Association of Pediatrics and the CDC).
- Guidance Counselors: 1 counselor per 250 students for all grade levels, as recommended by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).
- Social Workers: 1 social worker per 250 students (recommended by the National Association of Social Workers and the School Social Work Association of America).
- Mental Health Professionals: Additional funding for mental health workers and supports.
- Funding for Teacher Salaries: Funding for the total number of teachers each individual school is required to employ to meet student teacher ratios under state law.
Local Control of Schools
The Knox County Board of Education believes that local boards of education are best equipped and informed to make decisions to address the needs and challenges of their local schools.
The Board supports school choice within the public school district / LEA for any student who is zoned to a school that is failing to meet accountability measures or student needs. The Board of Education opposes any legislation to create a voucher program in TN, diverting money to private schools that is intended for public education. Private schools are not required to serve all students or meet Tennessee’s standards and/or accountability measures. Vouchers diminish equal opportunity and public oversight of education.
Teacher Performance Evaluation
The Knox County Board of Education embraces annual performance evaluations as a critical professional development and instructional improvement tool. However, it urges the Tennessee Legislature and State Board of Education to develop instructionally sound guidelines and criteria for teacher evaluation models using local educator input and multiple measures that more adequately represent teacher performance and course content. Until appropriate and valid guidelines are developed, summative scores should only be used in as advisory capacity and not as a major determinative factor in forming personnel decisions.
The Knox County Board of Education opposes legislation requiring the A-F grading of public schools. We would like to see an accountability system that meets the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and does not stigmatize schools and students.