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Judge Finds Texas School Funding System Unconstitutional

Sara Robberson
Special to KERA

District Judge John Dietz has ruled the Texas school finance system, which serves over 5 million public schoolchildren, is unconstitutional. 

“The court declares the school finance system  is not adequately funded and therefore fails to make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of the system,” Dietz said Monday, explaining one of the reasons he ruled against the state. 

The judge also said many districts are forced to levy local taxes at their maximum available rates, which in effect creates an unconstitutional statewide property tax.  

Attorneys representing three-fourths of the state’s public school students, charter schools and a business group have been in trial since October arguing for an overhaul in the way the state finances public schools.

The state argued that rising test scores and improved graduation rates are proof that the current system is working even though state funding has fallen.

The state is expected to appeal today’s ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.