Mar 1, 2023 - News

Metro undecided on resuming school funding lawsuit

Illustration of a dollar made out of chalk on a chalkboard being erased

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Metro is undecided on whether to press forward with its lawsuit against the state over public school funding, the city's top lawyer says.

Catch up quick: Shelby County and Metro sued the state in 2015 arguing that school funding is inadequate in Tennessee.

  • A coalition of small school districts joined the lawsuit in 2020 in a legal maneuver establishing a rural-urban agreement that the state wasn't investing enough in public education.
  • Earlier lawsuits over Tennessee's education funding focused on how the pie of state money is divided between rural and urban districts. But the newer lawsuit was focused on the adequacy of funding and not how the pie is divided up.

State of play: Gov. Bill Lee's administration overhauled the school funding formula last year. While the new formula is being implemented, the plaintiffs and the state agreed to stay the lawsuit until August.

  • Metro legal director Wally Dietz tells Axios, "We don't know whether we'll continue to press the case."

Yes, but: Nashville school board chairperson Rachael Anne Elrod says she hopes the lawsuit continues.

  • She says the next mayor, in consultation with the school board, should decide whether to remain in the lawsuit. Elrod says the city will also want to know if Shelby County and the small school districts remain in the lawsuit.
  • "There's not enough funding, and that has not changed," Elrod says.
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