By ROSE FRENCH
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —; An 18-year-old lawsuit brought by a coalition of small schools in Tennessee that forced lawmakers to create a new education funding formula fairer to counties with smaller tax bases was dismissed by a Nashville judge today.
Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled that the so-called small schools lawsuit be dismissed because there were no issues related to the suit that were pending.
However, McCoy did say that she would consider reopening the case if, for instance, the funding formula —; known as the Basic Education Program —; were repealed or if substantial amendments were made to plan.
Lewis Donelson, one of the lawyers for small schools, asked McCoy today to keep the case alive.
He said urban school districts, which believe they’re not getting enough money with the BEP plan, are lobbying legislators to amend or repeal the BEP, replacing it with a new formula.
“It would be wise to leave the case as it stands,” Donelson said. “If we dismiss this case, we would have to start all over again.”
McCoy said the courts didn’t deal with “what ifs” and said there are no issues “hanging out there. I guess I can’t see anything that’s left.”
The lawsuit was originally filed in 1988 by a coalition of 77 small school districts, who argued they weren’t getting as much money as more affluent, suburban areas.
The case eventually reached the Tennessee Supreme Court, which in 1993 ruled that the state’s education funding system was unconstitutional.
See tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press for full coverage.