Local schools win suit against State

CROSBY, HUFFMAN GCCISD– Last Monday, Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of over 600 districts’ petition that the system that Texas uses to fund its schools violates the state’s constitution because it does not provide enough money to schools and it is not fairly distributed.

This is the sixth time Texas has been sued for not meeting constitutional obligations to fund public education as mandated by law and there was a $5.8 Billion budget cut passed by lawmakers in 2011.

One sources indicated that the difference is between $7,000 per student and $5,000 per student per year. About 50% of the Texas budget goes to public education about 60% goes to education in general, said another source, indicating that if budgets are cut, some must be from education.

Lawmakers are already positioning to deal with the matter in extra session after an almost inevitable appeal.

Superintendent of Crosby ISD Dr. Kieth Moore said, “It’s a great day for students in Texas. The teachers and staff across Texas have done a great job of making a broken system work for years. Our legislators have asked for higher standards for years but have failed to provide the funding needed to reach an agreement population of students that is becoming more and more economically disadvantaged. Legislators have touted decreased funding to our schools while the shortfall has been shouldered by the teachers and educators across Texas. This decision is validation to the professional educators across Texas that have worked hard for their students in a broken system. We have won the battle but we are sure that the state will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. Our parents, educators and community members need to continue to voice their support so that it is clear that our expectation is for the state to live up to their end of the bargain.”

Dietz ruled the state’s funding system is unconstitutional. The state relies on property taxes to fund schools and about 36% of those schools’ funds are redistributed to poorer districts. In 2011 districts organized around the Equity Center sued the state because wealthier district were receiving more funds even if they had lower property tax rates. Then another suit was filed by larger districts saying that the tax rate cap is an illegal state property tax and their funding was inadequate.

David Dewhurst and Governor Perry disagreed with the ruling although Judge Dietz written detailed decision has not been issued but is expected to be issued soon.

Josh Turner representing petitioners summed up the situation by saying “If we expect to do better as a state, we have to make sure we provide school districts with the means to do that.”