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More districts will join in school finance lawsuit

Coming soon to a courtroom near you.

School districts will throw everything short of the kitchen sink into their upcoming lawsuit against the state of Texas for shortchanging public education, a lead attorney in the case said Tuesday.

“We are going to try to cover the water front because the system is so out of whack,” school finance lawyer Randall “Buck” Wood said.

The suit, which he expects to file within the next two weeks, will claim that state leaders have created an “arbitrary, irrational and inequitable” funding system.

The suit also will claim that the state is responsible for the inequitable funding of school facilities, he said, while also alleging a violation of the state’s ban against a statewide property tax.

Nearly one-quarter of the state’s school districts are already levying the maximum $1.17 tax rate for maintenance and operations, resulting in a statewide property tax, Wood said, which the Texas Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in a school finance case six years ago.

[…]

Per student funding in Texas now ranges from less than $5,000 per child in some school districts to more than $10,000 in others, according to the Equity Center, which represents 690 school districts.

“We believe litigation is the only way to ensure taxpayer equity and a quality education for Texas children,” said Wayne Pierce, executive director for the Equity Center.

See here and here for some background, and here (via EoW) for a press release on the matter from the Equity Center. You may recall that during the regular session, State Sen. Bob Deuell released an eye-opening list of disparities in per student revenue for school districts in each State Senate district; the exact range is from $3,732 to $12,979. I can’t wait to see the state try to argue that there’s nothing inequitable about that. The Statesman has more.

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