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Tenn. Funding Plan Hurts Rural Schools, Court Rules

October 09, 2002|From Associated Press

NASHVILLE — Tennessee's system for distributing tax money to public schools was declared unconstitutional Tuesday by the state Supreme Court.

In its third such ruling in less than a decade, the court found unanimously that the system shortchanges rural districts and denies equal educational opportunities for students.

The decision could potentially cost the state government, already stretched financially, hundreds of millions of dollars.

The court, in a decision written by Justice E. Riley Anderson, said the plan adopted by the Legislature seven years ago doesn't equalize the pay between teachers in rural and urban school districts.

It also "fails to comply with the state's constitutional obligation to formulate and maintain a system that affords a substantially equal education opportunity for all students," he wrote.

"Until that mandate is met, the inherent value of education will not be fully realized by all students in the state, regardless of where they live and attend school."

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