Kingsport Board of Education backing proposed TSBA resolutions

Rick Wagner • Sep 8, 2012 at 10:37 AM

KINGSPORT — City school board members want two changes in state education funding and an end to state hindrances on the use of electronic textbooks.

The Kingsport Board of Education has gone on record in support of three proposed resolutions the Tennessee School Boards Association will consider later this year.

Susan Lodal, the BOE’s liaison to the TSBA and the TSBA board’s treasurer, said the proposals would go before the TSBA board later this month and before the entire TSBA membership in November. If approved, the TSBA would lobby for them in the 2013 General Assembly session beginning in January.

One would unfreeze the Basic Education Program capital component, which was frozen, meaning no more inflationary increases for capital projects as of two years ago.

In November of 2011, the estimate was that the freeze had cost public school systems statewide $34.4 milion.

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said the position is about “truth in advertising” when lawmakers say the BEP has been fully funded but the non-classroom component in the formula has been frozen for two years.

“There has been an outcry that it’s hurt a lot of school systems,” Ailshie said. The BEP provides the bulk of state funding for school systems or about $23 million for Kingsport.

A second proposal would allow school systems more flexibility in ways BEP funding is earned.

Ailshie said that things such as early college, Web-enhanced, virtual and online classes are among programs that can benefit students but that the BEP can use to penalize forward-thinking school systems.

For instance, when students graduate early through online classes, Ailshie said the BEP average daily membership formulas can penalize school systems for having fewer students. In reality, however, he said that often such programs cost school systems as much or more than regular instruction.

Based on this year’s students either graduating early and/or using online courses to shorten their time in the school system, the city system could lose $556,160 in BEP funding.

The third proposal would “clear all legal hurdles for use of electronic textbooks.”

Ailshie said the current state textbook system, in which each system must pick textbooks from an approved list or get permission to use others, is “antiquated” because textbook adoption soon will lose its relevance in most situations.

“In today’s world, paper textbooks have limited use,” Ailshie said, adding that for the past few years they have been a resource, not a curriculum, and that online resources and electronic textbooks are the trend in secondary education.

The TSBA regional meeting will be held Sept. 13 at Church Hill Intermediate School in Hawkins County.

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