MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The pandemic continues to have a negative impact on local schools. Shelby County Schools says the district has lost more than 2,000 students since the beginning of the school year.
There’s is no word on whether the students have switched to new districts or to home schooling.
When schools operated by charters and the state-run ASD are factored in, the total number climbs to 3,865 students who were in school at the beginning of the year but were not in district schools after the first 60 days.
Jerica Phillips said she thinks most students transferred to other schools who managed to remain open during the pandemic.
“A lot of other smaller schools and districts, and maybe private schools and charters, they were able to stay open,” Phillips said. “Certainly, a large school district like Shelby County wanted to close because it was the safest thing to do.”
SCS pointed out in a statement that similar school districts nationwide have experienced a decline in enrollment due to several trends related to the pandemic.
The trend could hurt the district’s funding.
Governor Bill Lee wants state lawmakers to redo the funding formula. Just before Christmas, the governor met with Tennessee’s top educators to talk about changing the school funding formula.
He says after 30 years it’s time for a change.
“If you ask superintendents across the state, there’s not a lot of people who like it the way that it is,” Governor Lee said.
House speaker Cameron Sexton does not expect a push for school vouchers. He says Republicans still need to work out the details with education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. Democrats are skeptical.
“There’s a lot of talk about changing the formula, but if you’re not going to put $2 billion into the system to make sure you’ve got adequate dollars, you’re really just moving the deck chairs around instead of moving the direction of the boat,” Senator Jeff Yarbo said.
Tennessee ranks near the bottom of national lists when it comes to school spending.
Speaker Sexton says the state may give high-performing schools some sort of bonus, but didn’t elaborate on the details.