Stafford MSD challenges Texas school finance system
Claims system unconstitutional again after 6 years
By Elsa Maxey
Stafford Municipal School District (MSD) announces that it has agreed to join a coalition of school districts to challenge the constitutionality of the school funding system. The local area school district as part of the coalition intends to address concerns that will require the legislature to adequately fund public education, provide local discretion, and tie funding to State standards and requirements. Stafford MSD said that less than six years ago, the Texas Supreme Court struck down the State school funding system and found that the Texas legislature over-relied on local property taxes, left local school districts without substantive discretion over local tax rates, and it operated a state property tax in violation of the Texas Constitution.
Six years later, the Texas legislature has failed to answer the call for needed change, maintains Stafford MSD. It also states that Texas is once again operating under an unconstitutional school funding system.
Understanding the state’s complicated school finance formulas is reportedly complicated even to legislators because there is a mix of state and local money. The degree of difficulty to make sense out of the funding that goes to school districts has been compared to the IRS code or even worse.
“Our goal is to benefit all school districts by requiring the Texas legislature to establish a rational and understandable funding system actually tied to the high standards it has set for all students, rather than simply leveling down to fit funds available,” said Lawrence Hindt, superintendent of schools at Stafford Municipal School District.
The coalition that the Stafford school district has joined will be represented by David Thompson and Philip Fraissinet of Thompson & Horton LLP. Thompson and Fraissinet, reports the school district, were part of the legal team that successfully argued the State property tax claim in 2005. It also said that Moak Casey and Associates will assist the coalition as experts.
“We believe this legal team has the expertise, experience, and record of success to represent a diverse coalition of districts seeking this common objective,” said Hindt.
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