While the state’s largest school systems agitate over inadequacies in the state’s education funding formula, Gov. Bill Haslam is offering little on whether he’s willing to tackle that issue himself.
Anecdotally, Haslam said he finds at least 90 percent of the education community telling him they’re not getting a fair shake under the complex Basic Education Program funding formula that dictates how much state money is divvied out to schools statewide.
“Anything that’s driven by formula like that is going to leave people feeling that way,” he told Pith. “That’s one of the things we’re having discussions about. I mean, that’s kind of been out there in the background forever.”
Board members from the state’s four largest school districts met over the weekend as the Coalition of Large School Systems to talk about how the proliferation of charter schools has eaten up chunks of the Metro Nashville school district’s budget.
School board members from MNPS, Memphis, Knox County and Hamilton County then heard from Washington, D.C., attorney John Borkowski — the MNPS legal counsel who offered the district three legal avenues to challenge a state-level charter school authorizerin August. He explained the lack of funds from the state to offset the costs of charter schools is one of four "deficiencies" costing the large school districts what he calculates as more than $1 billion annually.
As members of CLASS, the group discussed the possibility of approaching the state about addressing the formula and the possibility of taking legal action down the road, but took no formal action.
There’s no plan to revamp formula for the coming budget cycle, according to both the state education commissioner and governor. Haslam was vague when asked whether he sees himself addressing the BEP in a second term.
“I think there’s definitely pressure to do that,” he said while walking away, “so we’ll have to figure that out.”