Haslam expects to meet educators next Monday to discuss dispute over school funding formula


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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he'll meet with the leaders of the state's four largest school districts next week to discuss an ongoing dispute over education funding.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1Et3RZW) reports Haslam told reporters he expects to meet on March 23 with school directors from Hamilton, Knox and Shelby counties as well as the director of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The discussion comes as officials in some school districts consider filing lawsuits over the Basic Education Program, which is the state's formula to fund public education.

Haslam said on Monday that he's "not sure that suing people ever helps the conversation."

District officials say the program doesn't provide enough funding for a multitude of expenses, but Haslam says his proposed budget would bolster funding.

Haslam, a Republican, said that "obviously I want to listen to their point. ... I think one of the points we'll make (to the Big Four districts) is that if you look at states' contributions to K-12 education in the last four years, Tennessee would be at the top of the list in terms of percentage of budget."

The governor added, "We're always going to work to not just adequately fund education but do it in the right way with the best outcomes. And I think superintendents actually have a unique insight in that. Like us, they're not just ... obviously they want more money, but they're interested in outcomes as well."

Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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