State Representative Frank Buck of Dowelltown has announced that DeKalb County would be receiving an estimated $572,000 in additional educational funding for 2008-09 thanks to the Schools First Initiative passed last year.
"When we first started talking about reforming the Basic Education Program, it was so taxpayer dollars could go directly to local schools while helping everyone's property taxes to remain low," Buck said. "Last year DeKalb County saw an increase of $820,000 and this year we're able to continue that trend by providing another $572,000 for next year."
The projected 2008-09 BEP 2.0 funding numbers are expected to increase average teacher salaries to $39,000, while the burden on local governments to raise property taxes will continue to be reduced. The total percentage of instructional cost contributed to local school systems by the state will increase next year to 71.5%.
"Thanks to the reforms we implemented last year, lower and middle class income families are continuing to see improvements in their local schools," Buck said. "We must continue to improve our public education system here in Tennessee so that every child in our state has a chance at the best education possible."
In addition to increasing K-12 funding by over $340 million, lawmakers last year also added over $25 million for additional pre-kindergarten classrooms, raising the total number to 934. Currently, over 17,000 students are enrolled in pre-K programs across the state, and this year the House plans to expand classes even further with another $25 million in funding, offering pre-K instruction to all of the over 78,000 four year olds in Tennessee.
"We expanded college education through the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship., we continue to expand funding for K-12 schools, and this year we hope to give every child in Tennessee, regardless of background, the opportunity to get off on the right foot with pre-K, " Buck said. "Education is the foundation of a successful life in this country and, as a legislator, I'm going to do all I can to make sure a quality education is available to the students and families of my district."
The House Education Committee is scheduled to discuss education funding next week.