Editor's note: The following letter was sent out to parents and staff Monday from Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan. As a community service, the Reporter is sharing it with readers.
On Monday, Feb. 4, the Honorable Judge John K. Dietz ruled the current system of Texas school finance is unconstitutional. Six lawsuits, representing over 600 school districts were filed against the Texas School Finance System.
The six lawsuits included the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition, representing more than 400 school districts with mid to low property wealth; Fort Bend ISD et. al., representing 80 school districts; Calhoun County et. al., representing over 90 districts with high property wealth; Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), representing districts with high percentages of English language learners; Texas Charter Schools; and Texas Association for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education.
The lawsuits were consolidated into one lawsuit and testimony began in October 2012.
Glen Rose ISD was one of districts supporting the Calhoun County suit. The claims of the Calhoun County related to adequacy, saying the state was not adequately funding public education; and that the current system was a statewide property tax.
Judge Dietz issued a ruling from the bench at the conclusion of oral arguments on Feb. 4. An omnibus written ruling is expected to be released in the next four to six weeks.
In his bench ruling, Judge Dietz concluded that the current system of school finance is unconstitutional. He ruled in favor of the Calhoun County et. al. on the adequacy claim and the statewide property tax claim. His ruling stated that schools were not adequately funded to meet current standards suitable for the general diffusion of knowledge and school districts are legally or practically unable to raise revenues at a higher rate than they currently have. Judge Dietz ruled against charter schools seeking facilities funding and the Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education.
Where do we go from here?
This is a very first important step in what will be a long process. After the written decision is released, it is likely the ruling will be appealed by the state to the State Supreme Court. A final ruling from the State Supreme Court would probably be issued in the summer of 2014, and the legislature would have to convene in special session to address the court ruling.
For additional information regarding school finance and school finance litigation, please refer to my December 2012 article, located at yourglenrosetx.com (entitled "Addressing school finance, Robin Hood).
Meanwhile, the 83rd Texas Legislative Session is underway. Many bills have been filed in regards to public education. Several bills have also been filed to reduce the amount of standardized testing, remove the 4x4 graduation requirements in favor of a career and college readiness pathway track, and eliminate 15% final grade requirement on End of Course testing. As the session progresses, I will update parents and community members on issues that will impact Glen Rose ISD.