Second lawsuit filed against state over education funding

The Shelby County School Board announced Monday it has filed its own lawsuit against the state over education funding, separate from one filed earlier by Hamilton County and other Southeast Tennessee school system, according to the Commercial Appeal.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Davidson County. It accuses the state of “failing to equitably and adequately fund public school education for all students,” the district announced in a release Monday morning.

School board chairwoman Teresa Jones called Monday a “pivotal day” for SCS.

“This is an unprecedented move for the district but we feel it is the right thing to do to ensure we can provide a solid, adequate, quality education for all our children,” she said.

The school board voted in May to hire legal counsel to fight the state over how it funds public education, acknowledging at the time a lawsuit was possible.

SCS is not the first district in the state to file suit over this issue. In March, Hamilton County and school boards in six smaller systems jointly sued the state. Metro Nashville and Knox County school districts have yet to get involved.

The 38-page suit is separate from the one filed in East Tennessee, SCS leaders said. Given Shelby County’s high poverty rate, SCS officials said they wanted to argue their point separately. the firm representing SCS has won a similar case in Kansas, district officials said.

State lawmakers have never fully funded the formula for public school allocations, called the Basic Education Program, or BEP. SCS leaders said previously if they were to get what the formula says it is entitled to receive, they would get $103 million more per year.