Local officials from Maryville and Alcoa traveled to Nashville March 29 and met with Gov. Bredesen where they discussed issues surrounding the states Basic Education Program.
Those who attended the meeting with the governor included:
Alcoa Mayor Don Mull
Maryville Mayor Joe Swann
Maryville City Manager Greg McClain
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson
Maryville Assistant City Manager Roger Campbell
Alcoa Assistant City Manager Bill Hammon
Director of Maryville Schools Dr. Mike Dalton
Director of Alcoa City Schools Tom Shamblin
Representative Doug Overbey, Representative Joe McCord, and Senator Raymond Finney also were present.
Both Maryville and Alcoa officials agreed with the governor that educational funding needs to be increased for the entire state. Their priority is to encourage that the high performing schools will not lose a great deal of state shared funding in the process.
Both mayors explained their respective city commissions have demonstrated the willingness to support education locally by virtue of their percent of the tax rate committed to education. They stressed the importance of the partnership with the State supporting this commitment to excellence.
"We share the same goal of many high performing city and county systems across the state," said Mayor Swann. "We want the best educational opportunities for our young people. We are not afraid to expect our local systems to be academically high performing systems, but we need the continued collaboration and support of the state to assist us in achieving this end."
The need to speak to this particular issue started in 2006 when the Tennessee State Legislature agreed that a BEP review committee be formed to make recommendations on how to change the current funding formula of the 136 public school systems in the state.
The current BEP uses several indicators for funding such as the ability to pay, property and sales tax capacity, per capita income, tax burden and school population to calculate the funds for each.
A copy of the BEP recommendations was available for review in early January 2007. At that time, the cities of Alcoa and Maryville met and agreed that a joint meeting should be held in order to educate their elected officials on the complexities and repercussions of the proposed formulas.
The historic meeting focused on the most substantial losses of State shared funds to both cities if any of the BEP formulas were adopted. For Alcoa, the highest loss of funds could be 100% (2006--$4,980,000) and as much as 17.5% for Maryville City Schools (2006-- $16,050,000).
City officials understood that such a loss could place a tremendous burden that could result in such measures as in an increase in property tax, cuts in city services, a reduction in school expenditures, or even to option out of the school business altogether.
Alcoa Mayor Mull thanked the Governor and the local legislative delegation for all their broad support for activities and projects in Blount County.
"We have several local initiatives that would have never gotten off the ground if it had not been for the support of the Governor and his team," said Mayor Mull. "From an educational perspective, we just want to do everything we can to support excellence in education locally."
Although the BEP Review Committee announced in late January that they were unable to make a decision on which of the four methods to recommend to law makers, the issue continues to remain front and center as the governor and legislature continue to try to find ways to produce additional funds for schools.
Maryville and Alcoas next steps will be to partner with similar systems throughout the state who will potentially lose funding. An outcome of this effort will be more public meetings to discuss this issue and suggested solutions to the problem of funding for education.