Tennessee’s Comptroller is warning a pair of programs used to fund education may be in a “risky situation.”
A new report from the Comptroller’s office expresses several concerns with the Basic Education Program, or BEP. It’s been used to divvy out state money to local school districts since the early 90s, and the amounts are determined, in part, by how many students are on the rolls. Those figures are submitted by the districts themselves. Add in economic pressures, the argument goes, and there’s an incentive for overstating how many kids are in school on an average day. What’s more, the report’s authors also contend two decades of tweaks have made the formula so convoluted that school systems can’t be sure they’re truly receiving the right amount.
The Comptroller’s office doesn’t accuse anyone of gaming the system now, but suggests changes are needed to remove the temptation. And it says that’s a lesson that can be applied to the relatively new Complete College Tennessee Act.
That program works on a similar model, tying funding for the state’s colleges and universities to their graduation rates. The report encourages the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to audit those figures right from the start, adding in a layer of transparency it contends isn’t there in the BEP. And, looking forward, the comptroller’s office warns against letting the much newer law become overly complicated.