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VOL. 39 | NO. 13 | Friday, March 27, 2015

Haslam to continue school funding discussion despite lawsuit

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that he's not going to let a lawsuit several East Tennessee school systems filed against the state over funding derail the administration's efforts to address grievances about the state's school funding formula.

Hamilton County and six Chattanooga-area school systems filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, a day after the superintendent of Hamilton County Schools and superintendents representing Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville met with the governor to discuss their concerns.

The state's four largest cities represent about 30 percent of the state's 1 million students. They have argued that the funding formula, known as the Basic Education Program, is not adequately funded, and they threatened to sue.

After meeting with the governor on Monday, the superintendents told reporters they'd like to see plans the governor discussed play out before pursuing litigation. However, Hamilton County filed suit t he next day.

Haslam told reporters Thursday that he plans "to keep conversations going" despite the lawsuit.

"We're not going to say, now that we've been sued we're going to shut down our efforts," he said. "We're still going to try to get to the right outcome."

The Republican governor has said he's working on short-term and long-term plans to address the superintendents' concerns.

He appointed a task force last year to study the funding formula.

Last month, Haslam announced in his State of the State address that he's putting $44 million into the program, which hasn't been fully funded since it was overhauled about eight years ago under then-Gov. Phil Bredesen.

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