Nacogdoches ISD among districts suing state over school funding - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nacogdoches ISD among districts suing state over school funding

A lawsuit filed in 2011 by 600 school districts across Texas went to the state Supreme Court Tuesday. (Source: KTRE Staff) A lawsuit filed in 2011 by 600 school districts across Texas went to the state Supreme Court Tuesday. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Districts claim the state’s finance funding plan is unconstitutional. State lawyers want the case dismissed. (Source: KTRE Staff) Districts claim the state’s finance funding plan is unconstitutional. State lawyers want the case dismissed. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Dr. Ronnie Knox, Nacogdoches ISD Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations explains districts what a unified funding amount for each child. (Source: KTRE Staff) Dr. Ronnie Knox, Nacogdoches ISD Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations explains districts what a unified funding amount for each child. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Numerous school districts in Nacogdoches and Angelina counties are among the 600 school districts across the state suing Texas.

The lawsuit is over how the state funds public schools.

Districts have claimed claim the method is unconstitutional. The state wants the lawsuit dropped.

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides.

These Nacogdoches fifth graders weren't even born when the debate over how Texas pays for its public schools began.

Arguments over school finance were heard by the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday - the sixth time since 1984. Nacogdoches ISD Business Superintendent Dr. Ronnie Knox is familiar with each case. 

“There's a different caveat to each decision,” said Dr. Ronnie Cox, Nacogdoches ISD’s associate superintendent of business and operations. “A lawsuit comes. The legislature tries to do some kind of adjustment.”

The last adjustment by state lawmakers was a $5 billion cut from public education. East Texas schools felt the blow. So did hundreds of others. In 2011 districts filed a lawsuit.

Once again, the state made adjustments. This time the changes were made to maintenance and operations funding.

Today state lawyers presented their argument before the state supreme court.

"Over 96 percent of M&O funding has been equalized, so the system is constitutionally efficient,” Beth Klusmann said.

Yet school districts argue the state still isn't giving enough money per child to each district. Consequently, property taxes are raised.

Also districts argue the constitutionality of a Robin Hood system where rich districts must give back money for poorer districts.

"If everyone was on a more equal playing ground, they may not have to do that,” Knox said.

The Equity Center is representing school districts in the class action lawsuit. It's fighting for equal funding for every student.

"So I think there needs to be a fair, basic allotment that everyone can agree on,” Knox said.

But reaching agreement isn't easy.  Legal battles over Texas school finance have gone on for 30 years. At this rate, these children will be parents before the issue is settled.   

It's uncertain when the Texas Supreme Court will make its decision. Knox expects it to come in January. If so, it may lead to a special session of state legislators.

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