HISD Board of Education to Consider School Finance Litigation
HISD could join coalition of school districts challenging the constitutionality
of Texas’ school finance system
The Houston ISD Board of Education will meet Thursday, October 20, 2011 to consider joining in a lawsuit asking a judge to declare Texas’ school finance system unconstitutional.
The public meeting begins at 8 a.m. in the Board Auditorium of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 West 18th Street.
The discussion of potential litigation comes on the heels of a $5 billion cut in state education funding that cost HISD schools $78 million this year and a projected $122 million in 2012-2013. This action marked the first time since World War II that the Texas Legislature failed to give schools enough money to account for enrollment growth, effectively reducing funding by $500 per student. At the same time, the Legislature has dramatically increased school accountability standards and testing requirements.
“We agree that all Texas students should be meeting tougher standards designed to show whether we are adequately preparing our children to succeed in college and in the workplace,” said HISD Board President Paula Harris. “But the state of Texas must do its part to ensure that our great teachers have the resources they need to meet the challenge before them.”
In 2005, the Texas Supreme Court struck down the state school finance system because it relied too heavily on local property taxes and deprived locally elected school boards of meaningful discretion over tax rates. The Texas Legislature responded in 2006 by adopting a new funding system that cut local property tax rates by one-third. A newly enacted business tax was supposed to make up the difference, but it has failed to do so.