Will a lawsuit resolve revenue problem?
At least two school finance challenges could be filed and move through the legal system in the next couple of months, with the expectation of a trial next fall. At the annual convention for the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards in Austin last weekend, it was predicted half the school districts in the state would be a party to one lawsuit or the other. The funding system that so many school districts are complaining about now was put in place as a response to the last school finance challenge, which determined that school boards did not have enough meaningful discretion to set their tax rates. Five years ago, the Supreme Court directed the Legislature to create a system for funding schools that allowed school districts greater latitude to set their tax rates, rather than pushing them to their maximum tax cap. Thompson, who has led most of the recent school finance challenges, asked a room full of administrators and trustees Oct. 1 if any of them had been given meaningful discretion in their budget decisions this year. Of that $47 million, about $20 million will come from employees paying more for their health plans, almost $11 million from bumping the number of students in early grades up to 25 per classroom and just over $9 million from reductions at the central office, including in curriculum support. The claim will be that the state's funding system is inadequate to meet standards, including the expectation that all students take four years of math, science, English and social studies.
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