May 14 2014
04:25 pm

According to this WBIR report by Mike Donila, Knox Co. Schools will get nearly $3 million less than expected from the state's BEP funding formula because of lower than expected revenues.

Knox Co. Mayor Burchett released a statement saying that he and his staff "will present the Knox County Commission with a new budget proposal that will be revised down in order to reflect the reality of the state's decrease in projected BEP funding."

Mayor Burchett also notes that "While Knox County Schools rely heavily on state funding through the BEP, Knox County is actually a BEP 'donor' county. That means Knox County sends significantly more revenue to Nashville to fund BEP statewide than our local schools receive each year."

R. Neal's picture

Indya Kincannon says on

Indya Kincannon says on twitter that "BEP $$ lower due to random unexpected & unscrutinized change of formula, not change in tax revenues."


Hmmm. Guess schools aren't failing fast enough for the privatizers.

Average Guy's picture

Maybe it's a reach at this juncture,


random unexpected & unscrutinized change

sounds kinda like punishment. Especially as it relates to government budgets.

Average Guy's picture

I took it Kincannon was

I took it Kincannon was taking about KCS from he post and subsequent replies.

Was she talking about the State as Donilla reports? If so, I'd be curious as to Memphis and Nashville. Are these numbers somewhere?

R. Neal's picture

State.She referenced a TACIR


She referenced a TACIR report.

Maybe she was talking about this... (haven't read it, bet it's interesting.)

There's also this...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


If there's been some recent change to the BEP funding formula, Randy, those two links don't appear to explain it.

That first link is just a 22-page tutorial PowerPoint (and a pretty good one) as to how the formula works. It doesn't appear to differ from the BEP 2.0 formula adopted by the legislature in 2007.

That second link reports on a new task force formed in January 2014 to study and potentially recommend formula changes, but it says any such recommendations are expected at year end (and it doesn't detail any recommendations recently made, either).

We didn't see any bill pass to modify the BEP formula, did we? Something buried in an amendment or some such???

R. Neal's picture

Indya gave a hint, but didn't

Indya gave a hint, but didn't elaborate. That's all I could find from a cursory search. Sound like a job for Super Tamara to ferret it out? Nobody more qualified I can think of.

(Maybe Indya can clarify?)

mdonila's picture


Eh, I think I'll go with what the finance officials said regarding revenue. It's not to say Indya is wrong, but it's a chicken or the egg argument.

Someone else asked about Memphis and Nashville. I know Nashville dropped. I think it was $3.5 million, but not positive. It was a big number. Not sure about Memphis.

Average Guy's picture

The order of things

I know WBIR is a local channel so the obvious interviews would be with local officials.

That said, who gave them the news?

Tess's picture

the new community college initiative

Pulling money for Haslam's new junior college tuition pass?

Factchecker's picture

Small government from small

Small government from small minds, for small minds.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


We didn't see any bill pass to modify the BEP formula, did we? Something buried in an amendment or some such???

Answered my own question. No. When I searched the term "basic education program," this is the list of bills introduced this spring and last spring.

You'll note that only one of them, HB 1894/ SB 2277, was actually enacted. I read the bill, its single amendment, and its fiscal note, but none of that hints at any change beyond the miniscule one explained in just the bill summary.

I can't guess to what "random unexpected & unscrutinized change" Indya is referring...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


"Super Tamara," huh? Well, I like that better than "Ol' Number 4." I reckon I'm flattered enough to keep looking, but where?

TACIR has no report on BEP beyond 2009, except for that 2014 PowerPoint tutorial you spotted and we don't see any legislation enacted this past session.

Can a change of this sort be effected via State Board policy? I wouldn't think so, but I'll look...

Average Guy's picture


The reason for my question on where this came from.

As it stands, we have State level cuts but no State level reporting on the source or reason.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yeah, I caught that and tried to take a look at a couple of statewide newspapers, but the Commercial Appeal and The Tennessean are both behind paywalls.

I did catch a mention in the CA as to over 800 teachers being laid off effective June 30, but what I could read of the article cited lower enrollments (due to those six new Special School Districts, maybe?), not state budget cuts or changes to the BEP funding formula.

Meanwhile, Andy Spears' Tennessee Education Report had a cheeky reminder for the governor back in January, when he appointed Huffman to this BEP "task force:"

Someone probably ought to tell the Governor that there’s a group of people (school directors, city and county representatives, school board members, and other education stakeholders) that meet regularly to review and study the BEP. It’s called the BEP Review Committee and it is required by law, specifically: Tennessee Code Annotated 49-1-302(4)(a).

This task force meets 4 times a year and makes recommendations annually for upgrades or improvements to the BEP.

But I thought even the BEP Review Committee mandated in statute--so surely this more informal "task force," too--has to get its recommendations passed into law by the legislature?

Yes, Randy, Indya may well be able to clear up this confusion.

Mike Knapp's picture

BEP TACIR component / better revenue streams = less inequality

Was hoping to save such exciting reading for summer break but I guess I had to crack open the BEP Funding Handbook before reaching the rocky beaches of eagle creek...
My cursory read of the handbook didn't come across any language which detailed state revenue fluctuations and BEP funding, putting this out there for folks to gnaw on (link below). I'm going blind reading this thing in bed on my iPhone.

On a different but related note FWIW the TACIR had a lot of very prudent things to say about state revenue streams, especially with regard to over reliance on sales taxes as being problematic. My understanding for this shortfall is that it has more to do with franchise and excise taxes. Maybe a topic for another day but nevertheless - would we we be bickering over relative pennies for public education if we had better, more stout revenue streams - how much would a wealth tax generate in Tennessee?

TN BEP handbook for computation

The State Board and Department of Education use a percent of total measure of fiscal capacity rather than a per pupil measure. Once TACIR determines per pupil capacity for each county, this value is multiplied by average daily membership. This produces a county-wide measure of total fiscal capacity. The values of the 95 counties are summed, and each county is expressed as a proportion of the total. The fiscal capacity index for each county is this proportion.
FY 2012 -95- BEP Handbook

KC's picture

They want to punish teachers

They want to punish teachers by cutting them, and they think this lame-ass excuse will let them do just that.

Just as Cleveland isn't Hollywood, Nashville isn't Knoxville, governor. There's gonna be a time when he will need all the friends and supporters he can get, and they'll be gone.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

(Quick aside)

I love you for your mind, Mike Knapp.

That first link of yours I've been foisting on this audience for 13 years now, all the way back to that k2k blog where many of us first met.

Foisted it on Knox County Council PTA and Tennessee PTA, too.

And subsequently joined forces with Tennesseans for Fair Taxation to foist it on the general public.

TACIR needs to update that study, but Brother Bob Rochelle isn't around anymore to do it (and his replacement from Mt. Juliet, Mae Beavers, isn't likely to).

(This week's Time magazine had a good article on Piketty, entitled Marx 2.0.)

Mike Knapp's picture

Ditto Tamara

I miss Rochelle. This BEP issue is almost if not more Byzantine and arcane than TVAAS calculations...
Once we get to talking about class size for instance (plus whatever other demands, err requests which should have been forthcoming last fall...), my thinking is it'll be the state not the county that'll have to fund the difference. If we drop down 10 kids per class in high school we talking about more $ than firing the PR dept... Something will have to give.

KC's picture

Watch it now: Big Mac's

Watch it now: Big Mac's appeal to Mayor Burchett won't be to give teachers raises, it will be to "save" their jobs from some kind of "state" cuts. See how it unfolds. Haslam is giving McIntyre coverage so he can do his dirty work and clean out those "disloyal."

Tamara Shepherd's picture


So I looked up TCA 49-1-302 , which Andy Spears says mandates the BEP Review Committee.

First, it appears I was mistaken to think that the funding formula could be altered only by the legislature, as the statute seems to grant this authority to the State Board of Education via the recommendations it receives from the BEP Review Committee the Board appoints. The statute says that "the policies, formulas, and guidelines may be changed as necessary, but not more often than once per appropriation period."

Second, it appears that Haslam's January announcement of a "BEP task force" is either (1) a separate entity working parallel to the BEP Review Committee required by statute, or (2) an official but exclusionary BEP Review Committee formed in violation of statute?

It's the membership of the "task force" that's curious. I found a slate of 2013-2014 BEP Review Committee Members that then numbered 24 people, noted that Haslam's January 2014 "BEP task force" cited in Randy's above link numbers just 12 people, and cross-referenced the two to discover that the newer "task force" slate excludes all kinds of folks whose inclusion on the "review committee" is required by statute.

Absent from this "task force" (but present on the earlier "review committee") are representatives from the TEA, the TN School Board Assocaiton (TSBA), the TN Organization of School Superintendents, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, and various district-level directors of schools and/or directors of operations for school systems, all of whom statute says must be represented on the "review committee."

Finally, statute says the "review committee" is to meet four times per year and to issue its annual report on or before November 1, so it would seem that any change to the formula would have been recommended to the Board and approved by them six months ago?

I suppose we should next look to the State Board of Education's minutes, which I had said I was going to do next before I got sidetracked, to see if the Board received and acted on some manner of recommendations from either the "review committee" or possibly this "task force" in recent months?

Tomorrow. Yawn.

Indya's picture

Reduced BEP Funding

I don't have a full understanding yet of these changes, but hope to learn more today.

What I understand so far is:

1. The reduction was due to a change in the TACIR components of the BEP formula. It was NOT due to any legislative changes or any change in the actual or projected state revenue collections.

2. There was no new legislation regarding BEP this past session.

3. Nobody is taking 'credit' for this BEP change. Not the legislature, not the State Dept of Ed.

4. At least 3 school systems lost significant funds due to this change: Knox, Williamson, Nashville.

5. I don't know which systems gained funds.

6. TACIR (Tennessee Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations) is a committee formed in the 70s that is supposed to aid the state in making complex, timely and reasonable decisions. Oops.

7. TACIR also refers to a component of the BEP formula, and we're supposed to be transitioning away from it towards something called the Fox model. Very fuzzy on this.

I think the variable of the BEP formula that was changed has to do with personal income and fiscal capacity, as Knox, Davidson and Williamson are all relatively wealthy counties that do have greater fiscal capacity than many other parts of the state.

I don't disagree that we have untapped fiscal capacity in Knox County and that is something we need to consider locally while moving to BEP 2.0 . What frustrates me most is the timing of this change, and the utter lack of transparency.

The BEP Task Force is NOT the same as the BEP review Committee. I don't know why we need both, but it's not promising as I think they want to back off of BEP 2.0 and try to slice the pie in new ways rather than increase the size of the pie, which is what our schools really need.

I'll try to ask the Governor when I see him at Fulton today...


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks, Indya.

About this:

3. Nobody is taking 'credit' for this BEP change. Not the legislature, not the State Dept of Ed.

According to that statute, it would be the State Board of Ed (SBE), not the Department of Ed, to have adopted some change? Again, I haven't yet tried to look at SBE minutes.

And about this:

7. TACIR also refers to a component of the BEP formula, and we're supposed to be transitioning away from it towards something called the Fox model. Very fuzzy on this.

I suppose this "Fox model" is some sort of proposal emanating from Bill Fox's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at UTK? I'll nose around at CBER, too...

KC's picture

3. Nobody is taking 'credit'

3. Nobody is taking 'credit' for this BEP change. Not the legislature, not the State Dept of Ed.

4. At least 3 school systems lost significant funds due to this change: Knox, Williamson, Nashville.

All systems with significant teacher outrage.

And there ya go. And "we don't know who to blame, oh my!"

Average Guy's picture


In government (at least in theory), should it be a dictate like this is imposed and nobody knows where it's coming from?

All systems with significant teacher outrage.

We know Knox and Nashville schools have been a thorn in Huffman and Haslam's side. Can you expound on any kickback coming from Williamson County?

And I'd still like to see the list of what schools are getting what's being taken away.

Rose's picture

Definitely some pushback

Williamson County Teachers Vote No Confidence in Huffman

Looney Signs Anti-Huffman Letter

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Just left a message with Bill Fox's Number Two at CBER, Matt Murray (whom I've met many times over the years but who probably doesn't know me from Adam), begging some insight on this "Fox model" Indya references.

We'll see.

Average Guy's picture

WATE has basically the same

WATE has basically the same details as WBIR's story. The KNS has something, but it's behind the pay wall. Anybody with a hard copy know if anything further is offered on the origin of this?

Maybe we'll just have to wait on Nashville's Phil Williams to come to Knoxville and find out if this slash magically manifested itself on Burchett's desk or if someone from Nashville is willing to take ownership.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


It looks like KNS is the only media outlet to yet refer to some stealth change in the BEP funding formula.

McIntyre quote:

McIntyre said the school system was told by the state that there was a change in the formula’s methodology.

“We are in the process of asking a lot of questions of the Department of Education and we’ve talked with several members of our legislative delegation to find out: what is the ... adjustment that was made, why would it have such a significant impact on our potential revenues and the timing. Why would it be happening so late in the budget process?” he said. “The timing is problematic.”

A subsequent Fugate quote in the KNS article also cites a change in the funding formula.

Average Guy's picture

Stealth being the key word

Three local outlets reporting "the state" is dictating this as if "the state" is some nameless monolith.

Burchett got something from somebody. Are we really to believe it was anonymous?

Indya's picture

two more things

I learned two more things this morning:

1. Shelby county is one of the school systems that gained from the change, up $10m.

2. BEP formula variables have been modified in the past, but never, as far as I can determine, this late in the budget cycle with this little notice or debate.

The timing is horrible, even, potentially for systems that gained funds, in terms of local funding, credibility, etc.

The budgeting process is already hard enough with the unpredictability of the economy and the political challenges. We don't need last-minute BEP formula re-calculations, activated by unknown agents for unknown reasons.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't think Knox is being punished. Rather I suspect bureaucratic lack of awareness of how these things play out in local government and the actual impact on students and schools.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Isn't it possible that the

Isn't it possible that the Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools merger made the Memphis numbers change?

Indya's picture

Yes, but...

Quite possible, but the merger has been in place for a little while, so they could have known that and adjusted 9 months ago.

This last-minute change is unprecedented. It would be different if they changed the calculation and said it would take effect in the next fiscal year. We could prepare and plan accordingly. This is such short notice.

I suspect that this highly unusual last-minute BEP recalculation is to prevent another lawsuit by small school systems. Shelby County is getting a bump, albeit a small one percentage-wise, but the other beneficiaries may be small districts. Hard to say since I've not seen a list of how this change affects each of the 136 school systems across the state.

There's decades long tension between resources for urban vs. rural schools in TN. Small schools won a big lawsuit in the 90s I think. BEP 2.0 was going to help urban areas, if it were ever fully-funded.

We need to ally ourselves with rural districts in a fight for adequate school funding for all. Fighting over slices of the same-size pie is ultimately not a winning strategy for either side, much less the state.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The timing is terrible. The

The timing is terrible. The explanations are vague. Memphis numbers did change.

There will never stop being resentment between urban and rural communities. Here in Knoxville, economically comfortable suburban schools put projects on Donors Choose and whine for the world that they need their project funded because it's unfair for inner city schools to get more funding than they do. In Memphis, the anger is unbridled racism.

Our cities and state are too small for this behavior.

Mike Knapp's picture

ally ourselves with rural districts

We need to ally ourselves with rural districts in a fight for adequate school funding for all. Fighting over slices of the same-size pie is ultimately not a winning strategy for either side, much less the state.

That is the answer

jcgrim's picture

Some pie slices are smaller than others

Mike, Yes & yes. Has anyone looked at the tax revenue the citizens of Knox Co lose due to TIFs?
Or are those huge tax breaks to Pilot & Walmart sacred?

R. Neal's picture

TACIR had a report on this

TACIR had a report on this very topic a while back:

Impact of PILOTs, TIFs, and other property tax incentives on school funding

Average Guy's picture

"Voluntary diversion"

= fancy government term for picking winners and losers.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't think Knox is being punished. Rather I suspect bureaucratic lack of awareness of how these things play out in local government and the actual impact on students and schools.

That seems quite likely.

Average Guy's picture

Bullet point four


8.1 percent of the district's budget is allocated to charter schools for 2014-15.

If any of that $10 million goes to increase that 8.1%, I think you'll have your answer.

What we do know is that systems that have bucked privatization are getting cuts while the system "embracing" charters is the recipient of those cuts. Funny how that's playing out.

And I don't think this is a lack of bureaucratic awareness, as it appears some one or some group is trying very hard to keep their name off of this.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Well, I don't get the lack of transparency, either. I went onto the SBE's site and read minutes from both their work sessions and their regular meetings going back to January 2014. There's no reference anywhere to the SBE having even heard any recommendations for funding formula changes from this "task force," much less any reference that the SBE might have adopted any changes. So far as I know, since this "task force" was formed in January, their any recommendations would have been rendered during the period January through May 2014?

Neither is there any reference in minutes for that period that the official BEP Review Committee offered any recommendations for changes. Presumably, the official review committee would have offered their recommendations prior to November 1, anyway?

And Matt Murray called back from CBER, too. He essentially had to defer to Bill Fox, though, whom he confirmed had been working closely with TACIR on potential changes to the funding formula. That was about all he could say.

He suggested that if I couldn't reach CBER's director Bill Fox (and it sounds like a lot of school superintendents will be trying to track him down today), I might carry my questions to TACIR's director, Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick--but I've got to disengage from this activity today.

Anyone who has the time to contact Dr. Roehrich-Patrick should feel free. She's been there for a good 15 years, I know, and has been kind enough to explain stuff to me before.

I'm off to plan Saturday's high school graduation festivities!

fischbobber's picture

Isn't this the second cut?

Didn't Haslam cut the money for teacher's raises from the education budget about 6 weeks ago?

Clearly what has to happen is local government needs to begin withdrawing funds from private ventures (TIFS, charter schools, tax incentives , etc. ) and restore the money to the education budget.

It would appear that the governor is ignoring the state constitution in an effort to keep the U.S. justice department from investigating whether or not the Governor is violating the civil rights of his minorities by disproportionate funding. (Hint, he his.)

The Governors office ignores federal labor law, civil rights law, refuses to assist in providing healthcare to the working poor, and holds the average citizen hostage by instituting class warfare between those of us struggling to hold on and those falling off the cliff. What will it take for the citizens of this state to wake up?

Haslam doesn't need to be impeached; he needs to be investigated, charged, convicted and jailed.

Mello's picture

Bradley and Greene Counties

Greene county reported a recent change in their BEP estimate. Is that how the state broke the bad news to these districts? Simply providing a new, lower estimate?

Bradley County had more details- (link...)

Smoake Jones's picture

Looks like less than 1 percent of the KCS Budget - SLASHED?

By my simple math we are talking about less than 1 percent of the overall knox county public school system budget involved in this calamity and collapse of funding.

The politics of BEP funding have never worked out well for Knox County and the absence of real industry and real for profit corporations located in Knox County hurts the available property tax revenue numbers (you think those not for profit hospitals pay property tax?) and Mike Edward's much balleyhooed retail and strip shopping center economy for Knox County plays right into the sales tax BEP trap that plagues Knox County today.

Average Guy's picture

Only the future can tell us

Only the future can tell us who or what this lost $3 million will effect. I have suspicions, but I'll wait to actually see what happens.

As for the now, we have a government agency or quasi government agency that apparently can change a county's budgeting process at will and with no warning. Our local press refers to this entity as "the state", so I guess that makes it okay and unchangeable.

Regardless, how much of your money needs to go to Memphis before it bothers you?

Rachel's picture

wrt some kind of conspiracy:

wrt some kind of conspiracy: never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

Average Guy's picture

Wrt incompetence

Whose incompetence are we talking about?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Whose incompetence are we talking about?

Both the State Board of Ed's *and* this shrunken 12-member "task force," apparently.

Indya and Rachel may be quite right that this shrunken "task force," devoid of district-level superintendents and/or their finance directors, had no idea how such a late change to the funding formula would impact the local budgetary process already well underway.

And we know Kevin Huffman lacks any clue.

I do wonder on what basis they've determined Knox County's fiscal capacity to be so much higher than previously thought.

Indya's picture

This change in BEP funding is

This change in BEP funding is not due to the recently created BEP task force. I know they've met a time or two, but they've issued no findings, made no recommendations. I don't know what the mission of the BEP task force is, but I know they haven't done anything yet.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, the governor's January announcement of the task force said they'd issue recommendations at the end of this year.

Since the BEP Review Committee mandated in statute was to have made its annual recommendations at year-end 2013, I just viewed those State Board of Ed minutes looking for some explanation as to why the formula would have been changed mid-year, by the task force or the Review Committee either one. But like I said, there's nothing in minutes to indicate that either body made any recommendations to the SBE.

So who made this determination that Knox County's fiscal capacity is greater than previously thought? And if it was CBER's Bill Fox, at whose instruction is he working?

It wouldn't seem to be that he's working just at TACIR's instruction, I don't think. Isn't it the case that TACIR is commissioned to do studies by others? They don't just launch some inquiry apropos of nothing?

Think I'll sit back and let our investigative media take it from here...

Mike Knapp's picture

After a 24 hour news cycle

No one as far as I can tell has provided an answer to the following questions which again are not apparent from the BEP HANDBOOK FOR COMPUTATION
1) How the TACIR/CBER formulas are affected by revenue stream flucuations
2) What the chain of command is with respect to BEP allocations IF AND WHEN the TACIR/CBER are affected by revenue flows
3) When and how the "total fiscal capacity county-wide measure" is affected by state revflowflux

IMO #3 stands out as the variable that could be manipulated to various county level +/- BEP allocations; it could explain why Knox and other counties "lose" funds while Shelby and others gain. However no one has yet answered the question how this variable changes with state rev-flow flux
Paging Donilla, CWG, Sally Absher and others who write and study these issues. If not the press then who holds these people (computers?) accountable?
According to Huffman the state doesn't rely on two formulas - so which is it?

But at the task force's second meeting on Wednesday, Huffman, who chairs the panel, said he doesn't support the fact that the current system relies on two separate models to dictate funding levels for districts.

Thanks to Indya, Tamara, Smoake and others for beating the bushes. Right now however it seems the birds are comfortably nesting, even with all the commotion...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Recap to date

Not in the sequence you raise these questions, but this appears to be all we know:

2) What the chain of command is with respect to BEP allocations IF AND WHEN the TACIR/CBER are affected by revenue flows

It's fairly clear that the TACIR/CBER formula, which we need to refer to as just the BEP formula, is affected by state revenue flows. This appears to be why statute (TCA 49-1-302) therefore requires a BEP Review Committee to convene annually to respond to such fluctuations. This appears to be why we get a new BEP Blue Book each fiscal year, too.

The chain of command cited in the statute is therefore that the Committee makes its any annual recommendations to the State Board of Ed by November 1 and the State Board, in turn, acts to accept or decline them.

The statute does not indicate if the State Board may solicit recommendations from any body other than this BEP Review Committee--like from this new task force--so that we don't know.

1) How the TACIR/CBER formulas are affected by revenue stream fluctuations

One way we know the BEP formula is affected is via tweeks to which components will be covered at what percentages based on what assumptions as to base (as in "base salary," for personnel components). Again, given that the BEP Blue Book is published annually, it appears that tweeks of this sort are most common.

The annual BEP Blue Book does not, however, cite any underlying assumptions about that year's measures of LEAs' fiscal capacity. Presumably, then. tweeks to the formula used to measure fiscal capacity are made less often?

3) When and how the "total fiscal capacity county-wide measure" is affected by state revflowflux

The only statute I've yet found referencing fiscal capacity (TCA 49-3-307, which is Public Chapter 369 of 2007, commonly known as "BEP 2.0") says that "no LEA's measurement of ability to raise local revenue shall be adjusted more than forty percent (40%) within the BEP formula in any single year." And presumably, the BEP Review Committee may make recommendations to the State Board of Ed on this count, too?

Lotta bush-beating, indeed, to have confirmed so relatively little.

Average Guy's picture

How is it known Williamson

How is it known Williamson County and Nashville Metro Schools were cut?

Digitally, I've not been able to find anything.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Dunno, but Matt Murray at CBER has confirmed that CBER's Bill Fox and TACIR's Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick have been working together to effect a change to the BEP funding formula, presumably relating to how it determines fiscal capacity (according to Indya).

The media have no apparent interest in figuring out what that change was and at whose instruction it was made.

We've made a reasonable stab at trying to figure those things out.

But it's our government and its processes SHOULD be more transparent than this, so now it's time for someone here to just phone CBER and/or TACIR to ask them these two questions directly.

I'm still on those graduation day preparations around here, but if someone would kindly pick up this telephoning task, I'll be curious to check in later.

See ya!

Tamara Shepherd's picture


You may or may not have spotted on the sidebar Mike Donila's update on this situation, namely a report that six Knox County commissioners have written Governor Haslam to ask that this change to the BEP funding formula be delayed for one year.

Also, they suggest that "the current BEP program should be moved over to the Fox method," which implies that this "Fox method" is NOT the change to have already been adopted and to have reduced Knox County's funding.

Since Amy is one of the letter's signers, maybe she can fill us in on what this recent formula change was and at whose instruction it was adopted?

Or Mike, did you ask any of these six commissioners these two pertinent questions?

Sorry I couldn't manage to phone CBER and/or TACIR today to get them answered.

Rachel's picture

So, either nobody knows

So, either nobody knows what's going on or nobody will admit to what's going on. Sheesh. Have we got a great state or what?

I'd like to see the calculations from April aside the calculations for May (all 40 components included). Then maybe somebody could tell what changed so much.

If Knox County was supposed to get $3.4M in April and now only is projected to get $0.5M, that's an 85% drop.


Average Guy's picture

This from 10:42 last night;


Although I don't see it on this site this morning.

Holding out hope a hard copy reader will tell us this article goes beyond "state" and explains the origin.

But not holding my breath.

Rachel's picture

That's the same link I posted

That's the same link I posted late last night.

Average Guy's picture

Mea culpa

Did it even make the print edition?

Jamie Satterfield's picture

Print edition

Yes, it did.

Average Guy's picture

That's good

But before I head to the library, can you say if the reporting gets anymore descriptive on the source than the "state"?

I do think there may be a solution. Maybe the "state" can force Victor Ashe to give his pension to the school system.

It's a little weird, that after a week, I know more about Ashe's retirement plan than I do in regard to who at the "state" arbitrarily siphoned off $3 million from the school system. Or why or how.

Jamie Satterfield's picture

Answer you seek

Below are a few paragraphs from the story if that helps, I am of course enabling your addiction to free news.

The Department of Education calculates the formula based on numbers it receives from the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research and the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations commonly referred to as TACIR.

To calculate its data, TACIR includes per capita income, sales and property tax bases and the amount of the property tax base that comes from residential and farm property, and the percentage of the population that is public school students, TACIR director Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick said.

“They mention per capital income in particular because when we sent the results of our formula over to them to use in the BEP this year, we told them that the Bureau of Economic Analysis had changed its definition of income and that had affected the figures,” said Roehrich-Patrick.

Bill Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, said within their formula, Knox County’s ability to pay went up slightly from last year to this year, but that’s only one factor in the formula.

R. Neal's picture

"They mention per capital

"They mention per capital income in particular..."

"Per capital." Heh. Saw that in the original online article. At least that was cleaned up for print. It has since been fixed online, too.

Average Guy's picture

You're enabler!

Haslam’s 12-member panel, which includes representatives of local districts as well, began work Monday on producing a set of recommendations by the end of this year on the formula it uses to distribute education funds through the state’s Basic Education Program, last tweaked substantively seven years ago.


I guess we have two agencies/groups that can tweak the formula to make it say whatever who's in charge of this wants it to say.

If the claim is Knox is generating more income, therefore more revenue, they make want to check Shelby County before they give them our money;

In fact, Shelby County has led the state of Tennessee in economic growth for the past two years.


And still, no matter the search key words on google or The Tennessean, can I find anything referring to any recent BEP cuts to Williamson or Nashville.

Stay tuned I guess.

R. Neal's picture

There were two articles in

There were two articles in print and online.


May 14 Wednesday online, print Thursday: Knox County Schools to get $2.9M less from state

May 16 Friday online, print Saturday: Loss of state funding for Knox schools questioned

Both articles were a little disjointed. But at least the reporter made some calls to try to get answers. Answers were not forthcoming.

Haslam sounds like a clueless doofus. But that's par for the course. "Who me? What do I know? Nobody tells me anything." That's his cover. But what else is new?

KPD veteran's picture

Thank God for the Sentinel

Thank God for the Sentinel and making Ashe's situation public. Anyone who worked for the City during his time knows he used the pension like a piggy bank. He put Council on it for political favors. He took the vesting to five years to get them included. He bumped up the COLA and benefitted himself and his buddies. Mayor Rogero is dealing with as much as she can. She made big changes in the pension for new hires and she is going to fix this sweetheart deal that Victor used. LIke he needs a taxpayer trust fund for his kid.

It would be great to know more about what happened with the schools but for God's sake don't knock the Sentinel for doing this great reporting on Ashe.

Average Guy's picture

I'd apologize for starting the derail,

but this story on the schools, IMO, has never been on track.

So wrt the KNS, yes, they can do a good job at in depth reporting.

Like with Baumgartner, until the story spread to the offices of the DA and KCSO.

Like with Burchett's campaign finance, until their source was revealed.

Like with Mallicoat, until it got to Ander's involvement.

Like with local educators, who are simply people with "gripes".

Like with Ashe, after he became a thorn in their side.

The pension problem is much bigger than Ashe, but for some reason, he's getting the spotlight.

For at least the last five years through its reporting and editorializing, it's become obvious who are the political enemies and allies of the paper.

Mike Knapp's picture

Roger that


Average Guy's picture


Thrilled to see this topic moved off the radar!

Glad to know our democracy's elected leaders (mayor, commissioners, school board members) or our democracy's fourth estate (the free press) got to the bottom of what happened to our $3 million and whether it was TACIR or the Governor's Task Force (my bet) that took it and under what rationale they followed.

What's that?



R. Neal's picture

Burchett: disparity in state funding, not local revenue

Press release...

Knox County local education funding 11th highest statewide

Knoxville, Tenn. — Knox County ranks 11th out of the more than 130 school districts statewide in local per-pupil funding, something that is not being made clear by those pushing for a tax increase in Knox County.

While some would have the public believe that Knox County does not provide enough support to the Knox County Schools, the reality is that our local per-pupil spending in Knox County is higher than nearly 92 percent of the state.

"The $4,835 Knox County taxpayers spend in local revenue per pupil is nearly 30 percent higher than the statewide average of local per-pupil spending on education," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "The fact that adding state funding to Knox County’s per-pupil spending amount drops our ranking from 11th to 51st shows that any funding issue that may exist for Knox County Schools is the result of a disparity in state funding, not local revenue. The solution to this problem needs to be found in Nashville, not in Knox County, where some want to raise taxes or raid our reserves."

When comparing only county school districts, Knox County ranks fourth out of 95 counties in the state in local per-pupil funding.

"I would encourage the board of education and the public to contact the Knox County legislative delegation and ask for their support in addressing this state funding problem," said Mayor Burchett.

KC's picture

Really? Is Haslam "hands-on"

Really? Is Haslam "hands-on" or isn't he? I mean $3 million just gone? Naw, I see feathers and hear quacking.

Average Guy's picture


When it's high test scores or bill signing, he's hands on and everywhere.

When it's anything that needs explaining, he along with those working under him, are totally hands off and nowhere to be found.

Average Guy's picture

Got around to reading the KNS's Sat article on the BEP

Nothing new other than the new formula is a hybrid of the 1992 and 2007 models.

No description of it other than it being described as "massive".

It's still not clear if it was TACIR or the Task Force that changed the formula or why it was done when it was done.

But there appears to be some sort of list that shows what systems are getting or what's being taken away. Has that been posted here and I just missed it?

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