Lawmakers drop bill to withhold state funding for schools staying virtual

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many Shelby County Schools leaders breathed a sigh of relief after a bill to defund districts that do not offer in-person learning died in the Tennessee legislature Friday..

“We want students in schools as well,” said Keith Williams, Exec. Director Of Memphis Shelby County Education System. “We want learning to occur. But we have to perfect the platform we are on.”

Many Shelby County Schools leaders were outraged when they learned some Republican lawmakers across Tennessee filed a bill that would allow the state to defund school districts that did not offer in-person learning.

For the 2019-2020 school year, state funding made up more than half of the just over one billion dollars it took  to run the district.

Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson says the bill was not presented on the house floor.

“It didn’t come up and I’m happy it didn’t,” he said. “It would have been an unnecessary fight.”

The brief four-day special session sparked various conflicts inside the Republican-dominant Statehouse over the best measures to help struggling teachers and students amid the outbreak. Ultimately, GOP lawmakers easily pushed through Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s agenda that he had outlined earlier in the week.

Legislatures return for regular session in a week. The bill may be presented then.

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