HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF)- Some educators are hoping that state legislators will invest a chunk of the state’s 40 plus million dollar budget into public schools.
“If you are not willing to put your money into education then you don’t value it” says Hamilton County’s Education Association President Jeanette Omarkhail.
Tennessee ranks bottom five in the nation for school funding.
As she anticipates Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address, Omarkhail believes teachers in her county deserve better.
“I am hoping to hear from him tonight that he is going to continue his promise to raise educators salaries” said Omarkhail.
“That plays a significant role in how our students are able to perform” said President of the Tennessee Education Association, Beth Brown.
Brown mirrors many of Omarkhail’s desires related to school funding, including recruiting and retaining the best educators possible.
“Those who are in the profession many of them have second and third jobs just to support their families and others choose not to go into the profession because of the comparably low wages” said Brown.
The Sycamore Institute based in Nashville suggests the state has about 3 billion dollars in untapped funding.
Senator Bo Watson, who serves as Finance Committee Chairman, confirms.
“Most of that (money) is due to very difficult decisions we made last year” said Sen. Watson. “So some of this year’s budget is going back and catching up on things we intended to do that we now have the resources to do this year.”
Mother of two in Hamilton County Laura Becker also anticipates Governor Lee to address the budget.
“Once the pandemic started and students we’re having to learn from home parents were recognizing how much teachers do” said Becker. “Teachers are the backbone of our economy in helping people safely have their children in school which would allow them to return to work.”
“I think the Governor will keep his commitment to increase pay for educational personel” said Sen. Watson. “He said a few weeks ago in our special session that that was going to be in this budget proposal.”