Commissioners calling for state to draw up new school funding formula

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - What is the best way to fund Shelby County Schools? Some County Commissioners are calling for the state to crunch the numbers and draw up a new funding formula.

At a meeting Monday, commissioners said the state's current formula to fund local schools favors rural districts. A resolution presented Monday calls for Governor Phil Bredesen to design a new formula to factor in urban districts like our own.

The current BEP, Basic Education Program, funding formula uses about 45 factors to calculate how much money the state gives to each school system.

Commissioner Mike Carpenter said the current formula does not take several factors into account that impact the cost of running an urban school system. He said it is about equal funding.

"The Formula puts too much weight on our fiscal capacity, in other words, our ability to pay, and not enough weight on the unique problems that an urban system faces such as at risk students, special needs kids and English language learners, which all costs more to educate," Carpenter said.

Both the Memphis City and Shelby County school systems, as well as the Memphis City Council, are considering the same resolution.

Insiders said all four entities may be in agreement that the BEP school funding formula needs an overhaul.

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