Society

Breakdown of school funding case issues

By ROBERT WESTBROOK
Superintendent, Milano ISD

On Feb. 4, Judge John Dietz handed down his decision in the landmark school funding case, Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition, et al. v. Michael Williams, et al. There were five plaintiffs—four groups representing school districts, with an additional group representing charter schools—and one plaintiff-intervenor group representing an organization, led by former Chairman of House Public Education Kent Grusendorf, with a primary goal of removing the state’s limit on the number of charter schools.

All of the major claims brought individually by the four ISD groups were upheld. The charter school-related groups were unsuccessful with respect to their claims, but expected to appeal the decision, as is the state with respect to the claims on which they did not prevail.

The list below, compiled by The Equity Center, provides a quick look at the overarching issues of each group and how they did in respect to the issues raised. In some cases, the issues are the same or very similar, relating to the same constitutional provision:

• Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition—Funding is not equitable/property tax effort does not result in similar revenue, Successful; System is not adequately funded, Successful; Property tax system has become a de facto state ad valorem tax, Successful; Property tax system violates equal and uniform tax provision, Unsuccessful. • Edgewood ISD, et al—System is not financially and quantitatively efficient, Successful; System is unsuitable in regard to provision of general diffusion of knowledge (GDK) for low income and English language learners, Successful; Low-wealth districts forced to maximum M&O tax rate to fulfill state mandates, Successful.

• Calhoun County CISD, et al— System is not adequately funded/ fails to provide resources for GDK, Successful; System prevents districts from exercising meaningful discretion in setting a tax rate, Successful; Current inequity does not violate Constitution and Fairness Coalition equity claim should be denied, Unsuccessful.

• Fort Bend ISD, et al—System is not adequate and is unsuitable because it is not structured and funded to establish a GDK, Successful; System is not efficient, equitable, or suitable, and funds below GDK, Successful; Lack of meaningful discretion in setting tax rates, Successful.

• Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education (TREEE)— System is inefficient with respect to the cap on the number of Charter Schools, Unsuccessful; System is inefficient with respect to employment rights in statute, Unsuccessful.

• Texas Charter Schools Association— System is inadequate/inefficient with regard to the funding of facilities for Charter Schools, Unsuccessful.


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