Round two for Texas school finance lawsuit

School finance trial

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Attorneys representing more than 600 school districts want the billions of dollars taken by the state put  back into the public school system.

$5.4 billion was taken away by lawmakers in 2011. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has said the public schools have enough money but that the money has been mismanaged. Educators disagree, and want all of the money returned. $3.4 has been restored to the fund so far.

Since there is no state income tax, education is funded through property taxes. Using a “Robin Hood” approach, money is spread from the richer districts into the lower income districts to ensure all students in the state of Texas have the same educational opportunities.

In February 2013, state District Judge John Dietz ruled it unconstitutional the way Texas finances public education and that it was unevenly distributed.

Three months later, however, the state Legislature restored funding for schools by $3.4 billion.

Two-thirds of the state’s school districts are involved in the lawsuit. Five million students attend Texas public schools right now, and 80,000 new students enroll per year.

Dietz’s initial decision sided with the districts, but he hasn’t submitted a full, written opinion.

Association of Teachers and Professional Educators Governing Relations Director Brock Gregg is watching closely. “For the education community, this lawsuit is the difference maker. It’s the difference between a positive education agenda and a negative education agenda.”

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