After four years of legal battles, Texas' Supreme Court unanimously ruled the state's finance system for schools is constitutional. The ruling is a crushing blow to more than 600 school districts that filed a lawsuit to change that process.
The court ruled against districts, finding current funding constitutional-however they did express a need for change. "Our Byzantine school funding 'system' is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement," the court said in the ruling.
The districts filed a lawsuit in 2011 after lawmakers cut public school funding by $5 billion. Statewide school officials have expressed concern that among other things funding is inefficient and over-regulated, and does not give students an equal opportunity - or equal tools to learn.
In a statement from Belton ISD superintendent, Dr. Susan Kincannon said "Our students deserve a public school system that is adequately and equitably funded. Our taxpayers deserve a school funding system that produces substantially equal revenue for equal effort."
Waco ISD superintendent, Dr. Bonny Cain believes that the cuts further the economic divide in education - the areas that need more funding for resources often are not getting them.
"In the state there is target revenue if you lived here you get $7000 per student if you live in Penelope you get $4000 per student so the equity issue, it should not matter where you live you should have equal funding," Cain said.
While some of the funding has been restored since the initial cuts, many fear they do not keep up with the new standards placed on schools. Midway ISD Superintendent, Dr. George Kazanas, expressed worry that students could face setbacks due to the ruling.
"We are at a breaking point where we can't take that next step forward in order to make sure we have that quality product when a student finishes high school or pursue college or career and be ready to do that." Kazanas said.
Some of the district officials we spoke with urged community members to reach out to their representatives and urge them to make school funding a priority in the upcoming legislative year.
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