Judge Rules in School Finance Lawsuit

State District Court Judge John Dietz has issued his bench ruling for the school finance lawsuit filed against the state. Below is a summary of Judge Dietz’s rulings. Overall, Judge Dietz declared that the current system is inadequate (does not provide enough funding), inequitable (does not distribute the funding in an equitable manner, and establishes a state ad valorem tax (a state wide property) that violates the state constitution. Eustace ISD has been a member of the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition from the outset. Note that each group that filed a lawsuit against the state is addressed separately in the ruling. There were two groups that did not have rulings in their favor: Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education and Texas Charter Schools Association.

Overall, the ruling is almost exactly what the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition argued. While this ruling is a first step, it is anticipated that the state will appeal the rulings to the Texas Supreme Court. Speculation is that there may be a ruling from the Texas Supremen Court in October 2013.

TEXAS TAXPAYER AND STUDENT FAIRNESS,et af.

The current school finance system violates certain provisions of the Texas Constitution in that it:

  • fails to provide substantially equal access to revenues necessary to provide a general diffusion of knowledge
  • is not adequately funded
  • created a state ad valorem tax

EDGEWOOD INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.

The current school finance system violates certain provisions of the Texas Constitution in that it:

  •  is financially and quantitatively inefficient
  • is constitutionally unsuitable for the provision of a general diffusion of knowledge for low income and English Language Learner students
  • low wealth school districts no longer have meaningful discretion in setting their tax rates
  • constitutes a statewide ad valorem tax

FORT BEND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.

The current school finance system violates certain provisions of the Texas Constitution in that it:

  •  is inadequate and unsuitable because it is not structured, operated, and funded so that it can accomplish the general diffusion of knowledge
  • is inefficient, inequitable, and unsuitable and arbitrarily funds districts at different levels below the constitutionally required level of the general diffusion of knowledge
  • prevents districts from exercising “meaningful discretion” in setting their tax rates

CALHOUN COUNTY INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.

The current school finance system violates certain provisions of the Texas Constitution in that it:

  •  is inadequate and fails to provide the resources needed to achieve a general diffusion of knowledge
  • prevents districts from exercising “meaningful discretion” in setting their tax rates

TEXANS FOR REAL EFFICIENCY AND EQUITY IN EDUCATION, et al.

Judge Dietz declined to declare for this plaintiff.  Judge Dietz state that the issues raised by the Efficiency Intervenors clearly reflect policy decisions within the sound discretion of the Legislature. 

TEXAS CHARTER SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION,et af.

Judge Dietz ruled against this plaintiff in that the Legislature is within its discretion to fund charters differently than traditional public school districts..

 

 

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