The Basic Education Program, or BEP, is the funding formula for Tennessee’s K-12 public schools. The BEP represents a huge portion of the state budget – over $4.3 billion, or more than a quarter of total state dollars in the budget. The BEP formula is also exceedingly complex. The Comptroller’s Office has repeatedly called for independent verification of the BEP given the magnitude of taxpayer funds involved, and for the formula to be made as transparent and understandable as possible.
The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) has attempted to answer this need on all three fronts by recalculating and verifying the BEP formula, explaining the computation of all 45 components in detail, and making the calculation publicly available for all Tennesseans. The resulting
BEP Calculator, available for download
here, uses input data for student enrollment, unit costs, and other factors to reconstruct the entire BEP calculation from scratch. Users can run the BEP for any combination of districts and counties and input new unit costs – teacher salaries, insurance premiums, etc. – to see the impact of different inputs on BEP allocations.