Rutherford County, TN - State Representative Mike Sparks from Smyrna is pushing for a change in state legislation to authorize the Murfreesboro City or Rutherford County Schools to use funds from the “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)” program to cover costs tied to programs that benefit students… Sparks says that TANF has an excess of funds that are not being utilized, which could be used by the local schools. If approved, schools could utilize a portion of the money on a variety of programs.
Some of the money, if approved as beneficial, could be used towards the arts, helping students that battle mental illness or even teaching the game of chess within classrooms... Mitchell is the Rutherford County Assessor of Property. Sparks and Mithcell previously told WGNS News that chess could help teach critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills. Finances from TANF could also pay for programs that are orchestrated by non-governmental organizations (NGO), if legislative approval is received. However, the state would have to form a list of items, materials or programs that would be eligible for purchase if using the TANF funds.
The bill (HB 0715) was introduced by Sparks in the State House on January 27, 2023. The Senate version of the bill (SB 0371) was approved this past week and referred to the Senate Education Committee for further review. Rep. Sparks told WGNS he has already spoken to local school board members about the proposal.
HB 0715: TN Dept. of Education - As introduced, authorizes a Local Education Agency (LEA) or public charter school to use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program funds to cover costs associated with programs that provide covered services to eligible students; requires the department to consult with the department of human services to determine which programs are eligible to be funded with TANF program funds; requires the department to publish a list of eligible programs on its website. - Amends TCA Title 49 and Title 71.