Headlining key legislative action taken this year on education is adoption of a budget which invests an additional $175 million in new funding to support teachers and students in public schools. It continues Tennessee’s strong commitment to education and adds $71 million for teacher pay raises and $40 million in school safety grants to prioritize school resource officers. It fully funds the Basic Education Program (BEP) formula and appropriates an additional $39.4 million for BEP growth and inflation. 

   In increasing education opportunities, the budget provides $8 million to expand the Tennessee Early Intervention Services Program for young children up to age three with learning challenges, $25 million to establish a Pilot Education Savings Account (ESA) program to serve low-income students zoned to public schools in Metro Nashville, Shelby County and the state’s Achievement School District (ASD); and $951,600 to create the Charter School Commission to ensure authorization of high quality charter schools.

   There is also an increased focus on vocational and technical education in Tennessee to fill a shortage of high-skill trade jobs. This year’s budget provides $25 million in non-recurring funds for the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Community Grants to upgrade and expand K-12 Career and Technical Education Programs in rural areas. It also includes $4 million to increase access to vocational education for high school students by doubling the fully funded dual-enrollment credits available and includes $12.3 million recurring for additional need-based, student assistant awards. Finally, it creates the Future Workforce Initiative to prepare student for jobs of the future in science, technology, engineering and math.

   The 2019-2020 budget appropriates $6.6 billion in total funding for K-12 education.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is every any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the 111th General Assembly.

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