Update on School Finance Lawsuit

As we have discussed, EISD is part of the current funding lawsuit that is being held in Austin. EISD is a member of the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition. This Coalition was formed with the work of the Equity Center and Dr. Wayne Pierce. Yesterday, Dr. Pierce testified at the trial. Below are excerpts from his testimony (from TexasISD.com & Joe Smith):

Dr. Wayne Pierce, Executive Director of the Executive, showed a table indicating
what would happen if all school districts statewide taxed at the maximum of
$1.17. It was clearly evident that to reach the funding levels of their property-wealthy counterparts, poor school districts would have to impose tax rates of $1.95, which would be illegal. Dr. Pierce used several individual districts to make his points very clear and applicable to one’s local zip code. The following are excerpts from articles and comments made related to Dr. Pierce’s testimony will continue on Monday.

  • The AP (11/2) adds that Wayne Pierce of the Equity Center testified that . . . the
    bottom 15 percent of poorer school districts collect an average of $5,581 per
    student per year in property taxes – compared to $7,535 per student for the top15 percent of the wealthiest districts statewide. That works out to a more than
    $65,000 per-classroom funding deficit each year, he said. The funding gap
    persists, Pierce said, even though the top 15 percent of wealthiest districts
    only collect an average tax rate of $1.02 per $100 of property value, compared
    to an average of $1.10 collected by the bottom 15 percent of the poorest
    districts.
  • AUSTIN — Property-wealthy school districts spend about $65,000 more per classroom than poor districts, Equity Center Executive Director Wayne Piercetestified Thursday in an ongoing school funding lawsuit. “You could do some
    wonderful things” if property-poor schools received equal funding, Pierce told
    Judge John Dietz, who had asked why the funding gap was a disadvantage. Gary
    Scharrer, San Antonio.
  • (He demonstrated that). . . two homes whose property values were within $10 of each other — one in the San Antonio Independent School District area and one in neighboring Alamo Heights. Both areas pay $1.04 in property tax rates, but San
    Antonio gets $5,333 annually per student compared with $6,666 per student in
    Alamo Heights — a $1,333 per-student difference – Gary Scharrer, San Antonio.
  • Similarly, two Travis County homes of nearly identical value — one in Pflugerville ISD and one in Eanes ISD, with the same $1.04 tax rate — Eanes gets $1,327 more per student.“And with money, it’s cumulative,” Pierce said. “It’s not like this isonly one year. Each year adds up.” Gary Scharrer, San Antonio.
  • An expert witness says the poorest school districts in Texas tax at a rate that is7.8 percent higher than the state’s wealthiest districts, but receive 35 percent less in per student funding CBS – DFW
  • Pierce: If everyone taxed at max M&O ($1.17), the top 15% would receive $2,790 more than bottom 15%
  • Pierce: The story is always the same: the property poor district who have a higher tax rate yield less revenue.
  • Pierce says only 130 districts statewide can reach 1993 revenue per WADA level(adjusted for inflation) at $1.04.
  • Pierce says comparing Ch. 41 districts of yesterday to today is apples & oranges.
  • Before, there was about a 3 cents tax gap. In ’11-12, the gap is now 9 cents
  • The gap has increased by $864.
  • The tax rate gap is 14.3 cents between top & bottom 15%.
  • Pierce: Substantially equal revenue for substantially equal tax has gotten worse since Supreme Court decision.
  • When looking at the percent of students who were college ready, the higher percent belonged to those with more dollars
  • Pierce: In every instance, those with less funding had lower scores.

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