Judge: Texas School Finance is Unconstitutional

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

AUSTIN - It's been a long fight for schools in the Lone Star State including many of those in West Texas. They sued the state claiming the way schools are being financed is unconstitutional and unfair. After an exhausting three month trial, a district court judge ruled in favor of more than 600 school districts Monday.

The ruling was made by State District Judge John Dietz after a 12 week trial saying that the state fails to provide local school districts equal access to revenue under the Texas constitution.

During closing arguments on Monday, attorneys representing around 600 public school districts told the judge that the way Texas funds their schools is "woefully inadequate and hopelessly broken."

14 West Texas school districts joined the lawsuit through the Texas School Coalition including Midland ISD and Fort Stockton ISD.

"We're pleased with the ruling: We joined one of the original lawsuits because we feel the school funding system is inequitable. Still there is a long way to go until there is a resolution to this so we will continue to be as efficient and effective as we can under this system," ECISD Spokesperson, Mike Adkins, said through a statement.

"From every dollar we raise, approximately 45 cents goes back to the state. So we really have very little control over our own local dollars that are raised because we have to give those back to the state," Austin ISD Intergovernmental Relations, Edna Butts, said.

At issue are $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and education grant programs imposed in 2011 by the state legislature but the districts say simply restoring that funding won't be enough to fix a fundamentally flawed system.

The districts say more kids are enrolling across the state, about 80,000 a year, and schools don't have the resources to educate them.

The Attorney General's office is expected to appeal the case to the Texas Supreme Court.