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State Judge Moves School Finance Trial Forward Despite Some Doubts

Eileen Pace
TPR News

A Travis County District Judge has decided to move forward with the state’s school finance trial despite some wavering about re-opening the case.

Earlier this month Travis County District Judge John Dietz revisited an order to re-open the case, which takes a look at if the state is adequately funding public school districts.

Attorney David Hinojosa is with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and said some of the judge’s doubts were based on the idea that new school finance laws from Texas Legislature really didn’t change anything.

"He said that he was worried about the financial data in the system and how fresh it might be because school finance data the way it's set up is you don’t know what changes are being made to enrollment and property wealth and tax collections until the fall of the next school year," Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa wanted the judge's initial ruling to hold that found the State of Texas school finance system to be unconstitutional. He said even with the new laws brought on by the legislature the last session, there isn’t a significant change to how school are actually funded.

"Even with the new accountability system -- the grading system of A through F for school districts -- that doesn’t take place until 2016-2017," he said.

In 2012, the initial trial showed that school districts were cut $5.4 billion, of which the lawmakers returned $3.4 billion the last session.

The next court date is Oct. 4 inside Travis County's 250th District Court -- the trial is scheduled to start Jan. 21, 2014.