Will Sullivan County Schools Close?

A funding dispute between the School Board and County Commission in Sullivan County threatens to result in the temporary closure of schools, according to WCYB:

A potential lack of funding to Sullivan County Public Schools could cause the school system to temporarily close.
An email detailing the situation was sent to system employees Thursday evening.

Sullivan County Director of Schools David Cox told News 5, the system has not received more than $800,000 in funding from the county. As a result, the General Purpose School Fund is now below the Maintenance of Effort Test from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The Maintenance of Effort Test requires that local fund does not drop lower than per pupil revenue. This means that, if the school system doesn’t receive the money from the county, the system would lose more than $4 million in state funding per month.

News 5 spoke with Sullivan County Commissioner Mark Vance by phone. He said the commission is at an impasse with the county BOE and the state department of education over the budget.

While disputes among school boards (which run schools) and county commissions (which provide funding) are not new, closing schools, even temporarily, is a fairly unusual occurrence.

It’s worth noting that if the state fully-funded the BEP 2.0 formula, Sullivan County would stand to gain some $5 million per year. Unfortunately, former Governor Bill Haslam froze BEP 2.0 and current Governor Bill Lee has chosen to fund a voucher scheme rather than invest significantly in public schools.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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