The Basic Education Program

The Basic Education Program (BEP) was the funding formula through which state education dollars were generated and distributed to Tennessee schools. The Board annually reviewed and approved school system allocations generated through the BEP formula.

The BEP Blue Book outlined, in technical detail, the major categories and components of the BEP.

The BEP Handbook for Computation was prepared by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Office of Local Finance annually and provided documentation for the calculation of the costs associated with each of the formula’s components, which were divided into three categories: instructional, classroom, and non-classroom components.

The BEP Review Committee convened annually to review the BEP and outline recommendations. See latest Annual Report

The final meeting of the BEP Review Committee was held October 31, 2022. This committee will be replaced in the coming years with a TISA Review Committee, relating to the new education funding formula.

General Overview of the BEP

  • The funds generated by the BEP are what the state has defined as sufficient to provide a basic level of education for Tennessee students. This basic level of funding includes both a state share of the BEP and a local share of the BEP.
  • The BEP has four major categories (instruction, benefits, classroom and non-classroom), each made up of separate components related to the basic needs of students, teachers, and administrators within a school system.
  • Student enrollment (average daily membership) is the primary driver of funds generated by the BEP.
  • There are 45 BEP components most of which are based on student enrollment (ADM). For example, students per teacher, assistant principals per school, or dollars per student for textbooks.
  • Unit cost adjustments (salary, health benefits, insurance) are essential to maintaining a similar level of funding from year to year, due to inflation. For example, in 2006 over 100 million new state dollars were required to maintain full funding of the BEP.
  • The funds generated by the BEP are divided into state and local shares for each of the three major categories (instructional, classroom, non-classroom).
  • The state and local share for each school system is based on an equalization formula that is applied to the BEP. This equalization formula is the primary factor in determining how much of the BEP is supported by the state vs. the local district.
  • The equalization formula is driven primarily by property values and sales tax, applied at a county level. For example, the state and local equalization shares for County System A would be the exact same state and local shares for City System A, within the same county
  • All local school systems are free to raise additional education dollars beyond the funds generated by the BEP.

For more information regarding the BEP Committee, please contact:
Nathan James, Director of Legislative Affairs