A Bigger Share for Small Schools?

There are rumblings that the small school systems across the state are getting ready to have an attorney sue over uneven state-education funding. The group sued back in the 1990s, arguing successfully that education was not being funded fairly and that students in small school systems, primarily in rural counties, were not getting an equal chance at a quality education. It led to a new funding formula for the Basic Education Program.

It is not a coincidence that Gov. Bill Haslam announced a 12-member task force last week to examine BEP funding with an eye toward revising it, if necessary. It was last revised in 2007. Media reports have noted that metropolitan school systems are dissatisfied with the funding formula, but the greater threat to the status quo is from the rural counties.

The task force is also likely to focus on an effort to head off a small-schools suit alleging that requirements for Common Core, testing, and the technology to take the tests put small school systems at a financial disadvantage.

The last BEP adjustment caused a diversion in some of the funding that would have gone to Knox County and other larger systems. It’s likely that the task force will recommend millions of additional dollars to pay for technology.

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