Session on School Finance
Posted August, 2006 - Strides were
made in the area of school finance, as our
convened in a special session this spring. Plano
ISD has maintained a high profile and level of involvement
in the attempt to represent the local community of
children and those in the state to bring a more equitable
finance plan for all Texas school children.
Posted March 30, 2006 - The Texas
State Legislature will conduct a special session
on school finance beginning Monday, April 17, 2006.
The legislators will have 30 days beginning April
17 to resolve the school finance situation.
The Texas Supreme Court has imposed a June 1, 2006,
deadline for legislative action. The Court ruled
that the Legislature must provide a funding system
that allows local school districts to meet the state’s
high educational standards, while leaving local school
boards with meaningful discretion over their local
property tax rates.
Failure to Find Solution
2003, the Texas Legislature has had two regular sessions
and has called three special sessions to
try to resolve the school finance situation. Read
more about these sessions and Plano ISD's priorities
for the Legislature in the links found on this "Advocacy
for Change" website, where you can also read
about the history of the state's "Robin Hood" system
of school finance.
Plano ISD's Legislative Priorities - Dr. Doug Otto,
Plano ISD Superintendent of Schools, has been a leading
advocate during the past decade
for specific priorities regarding the state’s
funding of public education. He reports that Plano
ISD is seeking the following relief in the upcoming
- The Governor’s call should include property
tax relief and school finance only.
- Consideration of any teacher incentive pay plan
should only be addressed after additional salary
for all teachers is approved.
- Local districts need additional taxing capacity
to provide enrichment.
- Enrichment funds may be equalized by the state,
but the funds should not be subject to recapture.
Additional reports will be posted here, as information
Posted November 22, 2005 - In a
7-1 opinion, the Texas Supreme Court today struck
down the school
system, finding that it had evolved into an unconstitutional
state property tax. The Court also found that there
was substantial evidence that “the public education
system has reached the point where continued improvement
will not be possible absent significant change.”
The Court gave the Legislature until June 1, 2006,
to address the constitutional deficiencies in the
system. The full court ruling can be found on the
Texas Supreme Court website.
The West Orange-Cove Plaintiffs, the lead plaintiffs
in the lawsuit, hailed the Court’s ruling.
Haynes and Boone LLP attorney George W. Bramblett,
Jr., co-counsel for the West Orange-Cove Plaintiffs,
remarked: “Today is a great day for the State
of Texas. The Court’s historic decision will
be applauded by educators, teachers, parents and
students across the state.
"The Court’s ruling on our state property
tax claim means that the Legislature must build financial
capacity into the school funding system so that districts
can hire quality teachers and provide the type of
programming that communities across our state need
and expect. And, the Court reaffirmed that the Legislature
has a constitutional duty to provide an adequate
level of funding for our public educational system
and that this duty is enforceable in court,” said
Bracewell & Giuliani LLP attorney David Thompson,
co-counsel for the West Orange-Cove Plaintiffs, continued: “For
the past decade, the Legislature has been shifting
the responsibility of funding Texas schools onto
local districts and onto the local property tax,
but the local property tax can no longer bear this
heavy burden. The Supreme Court’s decision
makes clear that it is time for the Legislature to
step up to the plate and pay for the high academic
standards it has imposed on districts and students.”
Currently, more than two-thirds of school districts
in Texas – which educate more than 80% of the
students in the state – are taxing at or very
near the maximum tax rate. The Supreme Court concluded
that these districts lacked “meaningful discretion” to
reduce their tax rates without jeopardizing their
ability to provide a constitutionally adequate education.
While the Court concluded that the system is “adequate” now,
it reserved the right to revisit the issue in the
future. In doing so, the Court rejected the State’s
claim that the adequacy of the educational system
is a “political question” not subject
to judicial review.
The Legislature has failed to address the looming
school finance crisis on multiple occasions, including
its 2003 regular session, a 2004 special session,
the 2005 regular session, and two special sessions
called by Governor Perry this summer.
“The Legislature’s focus has been on
simply trading property taxes for consumer taxes,
without adding any real new money into the school
system. And they could not even accomplish that meager
goal. We hope that the Legislature will heed the
Supreme Court’s call and adopt ‘big picture’ reforms
that will place the Texas public school finance system
on firm financial footing for years to come,” remarked
Haynes and Boone LLP attorney Mark Trachtenberg,
co-counsel for the West Orange-Cove Plaintiffs.
Session Talking Points - En