(The Center Square) – Tennessee began its look at rejecting federal K-12 education funding Monday with a review of overall funding from the state’s Office of Research and Education Accountability and Fiscal Review.
Director Russell Moore of OREA said his group can be as involved as needed as the Joint Working Group on Federal Education Funding prepares a report for the Tennessee Legislature on the topic by Jan. 9.
OREA looked at federal funding coming into the state from 1968 to 2022 while detailing the rise in federal funding for school lunches during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the federal government paid for school lunches for all students, to the $400 million drop in funding as students are again required to financially qualify for free lunch.
Committee Chair Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, said the goal was to start the committee meetings with a 10,000-feet view of federal K-12 education funding before getting into more of the details.
The committee heard about the five main groups of repeated annual federal grant funding categories, including Title I for disadvantaged students, IDEA for students with disabilities, child nutrition for school lunches and breakfast, Title II to support effective instruction and Perkins V for career and technical education.
Those five categories contribute 93% of the 2023 Tennessee formula fund allocations, OREA said.
On Tuesday, the committee will hear from Tennessee nonprofit think tank Sycamore Institute on the topic along with school district leaders Matt Hixson of Hawkins County, Marlon King of Jackson-Madison County and Toni Williams of Memphis-Shelby County.
The United States Department of Education is expected to give a presentation at Wednesday’s meeting along with the National Conference of State Legislators before the group has two more meeting dates scheduled for next week.