Facts via Sunshine Review

The Tennessee public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Tennessee has 136 school districts.

School revenues, expenditures and budget


The total proposed FY 2011 budget equals $28.41 billion. Of the total budget, Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade totals $5.36 billion or 19% of the state budget. The state, according to January 2010 reports, is facing an estimated $1 billion shortfall.[3] The General Assembly passed a $29.6 billion total budget for FY 2010 that started July 1, 2009, $12.1 billion of which is state spending and $2.2 billion federal stimulus money (total federal is almost $12 billion).[4]

The cost per pupil is $7,739, ranking 47th in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[5] The national average cost per student in public school is $9666 per year. [1]

Personnel salaries

In the 2006-2007 school year, Tennessee’s Department of Education reported base salaries as follows:[7]

  • Average Teacher Salary with Bachelor’s Degree: $28,365
  • Average Teacher Salary with Master’s Degree: $31,541
  • Average Teacher Salary with PhD: $38,025

Role of unions

The main unions related to the Tennessee school system is the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2003 tax period NCAE had: $10.20 million in total revenue, $9.51 million in total expenses and $11.94 million in total assets.[9]

List of local Tennessee school unions:[10]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is comprised of nine members including a student member. Each member represents one of the state’s congressional districts. All members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the general assembly. Board members serve a nine-year term, while the student member serves a one-year term.[11] The State Board of Education is responsible for governing the state’s elementary and secondary education systems. Some of the boards duties include evaluating curriculum, teacher education, implementing laws and policies, monitoring teacher and student performance, and working closely with the general assembly to secure legislative support of education.[12]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

The main education taxpayer-funded lobbying organization is the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Academic performance

In the 2009 school year, Tennessee schools did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. The state did, however, meet AYP requirements in 2007 and 2008.[14]

Year Math AYP Reading AYP Attendance Rate State AYP Status
2007 met met met met
2008 met met met met
2009 met met met Did not meet

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: The state of Tennessee had 17 public charter schools in the 2007-2008 school year, according to reports. Approximately 2,500 students are said to have attended charter schools.[15]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Tennessee has two open enrollment policies: intra-district (voluntary and mandatory) and inter-district. In other words, students are permitted to attend a different school within their school district or in any school outside their neighborhood school district. Additionally, students in low-performing schools may attend another school within their district.[16]
  • Online learning: In 2006 the state of Tennessee created e4TN, a state-led online learning program. The program was implemented in 2008. The program serves students in grades 7-12 and in 2008 reported 2,791 course registrations.[15] According to e4TN the program consists of 25 high school courses based on state curriculum standards.[17]

External links


3 The Chattanoogan,”Bo Watson: State Could Face $1 Billion Shortfall,” January 4, 2010
4 Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, “The Budget Fiscal Year 2009-2010,” March 23, 2009
5 Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
7 Teaching Tips,”Tennessee,” retrieved May 1, 2010
9 Center for Union Facts,”Tennessee Education Association,” retrieved May 1, 2010
10 Center for Union Facts,”Tennessee teachers unions,” retrieved May 1, 2010
11Tennessee Department of Education,”About State Board of Education,” retrieved May 1, 2010
12 ”Tennessee Department of Education,”State Board of Education,” retrieved May 1, 2010
14 Tennessee Department of Education,”2009 State AYP Summary,” retrieved May 1, 2010
15 15.0 15.1 The Heritage Foundation,”Tennessee School Choice,” retrieved May 1, 2010
16 Education Commission of the States,”Open Enrollment: 50-State Report,” retrieved May 1, 2010
17 e4TN,”About e4TN,” retrieved May 1, 2010

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