Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education joined school board members from across the state in Nashville on Tuesday, February 24th for a day of legislative networking at TSBA's annual "Day on the Hill" event. This year, featured program speakers included Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Kent Williams, Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, and House Education Committee Chair Harry Brooks.
"Day on the Hill" is designed for school board members and superintendents to study pending education legislation and discuss priorities with local legislators. The event began with a breakfast at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel and was followed by visits to legislators' offices and committee hearings.
Kenny Rhody, Third District School Board member, said in a prepared statement that " As your Tennessee Legislative Representative, I along with Charles Robinson, Chairman of the DeKalb County School Board, and Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools, had the pleasure to represent DeKalb County Schools, at the annual Day on the Hill sponsored by the Tennessee School Board Association, where your school board members and directors are turned loose on Capitol Hill to meet with and discuss issues that affect the needs of the children of DeKalb County. We had the chance to sit down with Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Senator Mae Beavers and other dignitaries that affect our concerns. The issues this year that will affect us most are the stimulus package that is now law and will help our education system statewide."
"Day on the Hill provides a terrific opportunity for school board members throughout the state to
promote public education and seek assistance from the General Assembly with one collective voice," said David Pickler, TSBA President and Shelby County school board chairman. "We look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to continue to improve the quality of our schools in Tennessee and showcase the many successes of public education in our state."
In addition to the elected vs. appointed superintendent issue, TSBA hopes the General Assembly will have a serious discussion of Tennessee's system of funding public education at the local level.
2007's adoption of the Basic Education Program (BEP) 2.0, provided much-needed revenue to school systems and a substantial step toward more appropriate funding for education in the state; however, several local governments used the increase to reduce local effort to public education. At a minimum, TSBA believes local governments should have to provide an inflationary adjustment to schools each year to recognize natural increases in education costs. In addition, TSBA would like to see school boards have more fiscal autonomy in school budgeting. Tennessee is one of only 11 states in the country where boards of education have no ability to raise revenue for schools.
"Boards of education have embraced accountability, but accountability without the authority to address funding to meet the very performance standards that have been mandated is, in our opinion, unreasonable," said Smith.
Smith added that the association will continue to urge legislators to recognize the importance of local management of schools and resist attempts to remove local flexibility. "There is no ‘one-size-fits-all' solution in public education," said Smith. "All of our priorities are designed to give school boards the flexibility, authority and tools they need to do the best jobs for their individual students and communities, all of which have their own unique strengths and challenges."
The Tennessee School Boards Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization, is a federation of the state's local school boards. It serves as an advocate for the interests of Tennessee's public school students and school districts.