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Family aid gets attention at school board meeting

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

Johnson County Schools spoke out on Saturday, May 15, concerning a recent article circulating about incoming funding for the school district. The report focuses on the recently passed Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) Act and its effect on Johnson County. Although the data was technically correct, officials report there is more nuance the public should know on the subject.
“Recently, a widely circulated news report stated that Johnson County is set to receive $10.3 million additional dollars under the state’s new funding formula (TISA),” Johnson County Schools announced through a social media release. “This is absolutely true. However, it is also completely true that this increase is not due entirely to the new funding formula.”
This funding increase revolves heavily around skyrocketing student numbers, according to reports. The 2021 State Report Card listed Johnson County’s student count at 2,156 between its six “brick and mortar” campuses (Doe Elementary, Laurel Elementary, Mountain City Elementary, Roan Creek
Elementary, JCMS, and JCHS) and two online schools
(TN Connections Academy Johnson K-8 and TNCAJ 9-12). 
The current school year shows 2,024 on physical campuses and 2,224 for virtual learning, and next year’s projected numbers are closer to 5,000 total. Officials report the leap in growth is “roughly 150 percent,” which explains why Johnson County would receive “more than any district, including much, much larger districts like Sullivan, Washington, and Carter County.” 
Numbers are still being calculated, but officials believe Johnson County’s chunk of the TISA pie will be similar to Unicoi County’s released numbers of $1.7 million.  
“I am very supportive and appreciative of the additional funds coming to Johnson County Schools with the passing of TISA,” Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox told The Tomahawk in a previous interview. “We will be receiving additional dollars in funding with no increase in local contributions projected through 2030.”
Although news of this funding increase has been circulating, not much has been said on the subject directly. This is reported because officials are waiting on more solid information to ensure accuracy. More information should be coming to light as officials receive confirmations on what Johnson County will receive.
“We want to be transparent about the funding increase,” the release explained. “We haven’t spoken of it because we still have unanswered questions. How much of that $10.3 million will stay within our six brick and mortar schools? Most certainly, a portion will, but we haven’t been given reliable information yet.”
For more information on the TISA Act and how sums are decided, visit https://thealliancetn.org/dollars-and-sense/tisa-evaluation/ or https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/2021-funding-engagement/TISA%20FAQs.pdf.