Texas school district feels ‘vindicated’ after school finance ruling

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) – Many Texas schools are still reeling from funding cuts, after the state legislature cut billions from education back in 2011. Districts like Hutto ISD had to make some hard choices over the last few years. They were one of the first districts who got on board with the lawsuit against the state.

“Here in Hutto, we are really a family, it’s just like losing family members,” said Dyslexia Specialist, Paul Lister. “Seeing one colleague after another let go because of budget cuts.”

The district lost more than $5 million in funding. That resulted in a 10 percent loss in staff and 10 percent reduced budget. Lister says two dyslexia specialists had to be let go.

“We’re not asking for a raise, we’re not asking for more money, we’re asking for the money that original went to school districts and was taken away to balance the state budget,” Lister said.

The district didn’t sit idly, fighting the lawsuit every step of the way. Superintendent Douglas Killian says he feels vindicated for filing the lawsuit.

“Exhilarated someone else stepped up and said yes, we’re not funded adequately,” Killian said.

While the finance system was ruled unconstitutional, one Texas group says the conversation needs to shift away form money.

“Supreme Court has mentioned in the past, putting more money into the system, doesn’t guarantee any results,” said Michael Barba, policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “And what they’ve said, is at this point, is that what we need to do is ask is how can we increase efficiency of the system?”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation believes the answer is increasing competition among schools.

“Shifting the conversation again away from the funding and towards the amount of choice that individual parents should be given.”

Despite the differing opinions on Judge Dietz’s decision, both sides agree the school finance debate won’t end here.

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