NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Monday his expectation for federal education funding to go directly towards student achievement.
In a release regarding Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds, the state says after three rounds of federal COVID-19 stimulus funding, Tennessee’s K-12 schools will see nearly $4.5 billion in funds.
“By using these funds wisely and returning to in-person learning, we have the opportunity to set our students up for decades of success,” said Gov. Lee. “I appreciate the General Assembly passing common-sense provisions that ensure we stay focused on progress, not punishment as teachers, schools and districts get back on their feet after serious disruption.”
Officials say the funding should focus on the following areas:
- Early reading, tutoring, and summer programming with a focus on phonics
- Student readiness supports including ACT preparation
- Expanding access to advanced coursework
- CTE equipment and programs
- Innovative models for K-12 mental health supports
- Teacher recruitment and retention
- Deferred maintenance for facilities
- Technology for devices and high-speed internet
- Serving special needs and low-income students
Lee has been a strong advocate for in-person learning after the pandemic shut down schools for several months in 2020.
Monday morning, Lee tweeted that he felt in-person learning is safe and is the only way to get students back on track after experiencing “significant learning loss” due to the pandemic with schools shifting to virtual instruction.
At the beginning of the spring semester, Tennessee and Shelby County Schools leaders had a bout regarding in-person vs virtual learning. Nearly a year after schools closed due to the pandemic, SCS remained fully virtual.
And after delaying its reopening more than once, SCS decided to reopen its classrooms at the beginning of March.