A lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the state’s school funding formula will keep moving forward despite a last-ditch effort by Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery to derail the effort.
A school funding lawsuit that has hung over Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration for more than three years has survived a third attempt in six months to kill it, including a “Hail Mary” legal maneuver before Tennessee’s Court of Appeals.
In the waning days before the Republican governor leaves office on Jan. 19, the appellate court denied Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery’s request to consider an appeal for dismissal.
The third strike increases the likelihood of a 2019 trial over whether the state adequately funds its K-12 schools — a question that could have far-reaching implications for Tennessee’s system of funding public education.
Despite Haslam’s claims that he’s made valiant efforts to increase school funding, a look at relevant data indicates Tennessee still has a long way to go to adequately fund schools:
To translate, in 2010 (the year before Bill Haslam became Governor), Tennessee spent an average of $8877 per student in 2016 dollars. In 2016 (the most recent data cited), that total was $8810. So, we’re effectively spending slightly less per student now than in 2010. The graph indicates that Tennessee spending per student isn’t really growing, instead it is stagnating. Further evidence can be found in noting that in 2014, Tennessee ranked 43rd in the nation in spending per student. In 2015, that ranking dropped to 44th. 2016? Still 44th
It will be interesting to see how the lawsuit proceeds and what the outcome will mean for school funding in Tennessee.
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