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Government/Politics

Teachers, Business Groups Want Different Action Following School Finance Decision

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Flickr user Corey Seeman (cseeman)
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Texas teacher trade associations are calling on state lawmakers to begin drafting a budget that addresses yesterday's decision in the school finance trial. But one state business group has a different stance.

Travis County District Judge John Dietz ruled the school finance system was unconstitutional, saying it leaves schools in lower income areas at a disadvantage and "cannot provide a constitutionally adequate education for all Texas schoolchildren."

Attorneys for the schools districts that sued the state over the current funding system don’t expect their case to be heard before the State Supreme Court until the early part of the 2015 legislative session.

That would put the budget for public education in limbo for next session, but Clay Robinson with the Texas State Teachers Association said lawmakers could develop an amended budget now.

“We’re asking the legislative leadership to start putting together a real solution right now to be ready to pass in the early days of the legislative session,” Robinson said.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said they are appealing the decision. Robinson said teachers unions are asking Abbott to drop any appeal that would further delay any type of legislative action.

But groups like the Texas Association of Business say having lawmakers work out a budget ahead of a State Supreme Court decision is premature.

"Obliviously the prudent thing to do for the Legislature is to simply wait for the court has made it’s order final," said TAB Executive Director Bill Hammond. "And that would be appropriate rather than prematurely going into session now."

Speaking to the judge ruling that schools are having to meet a higher-standard with less money, Hammond said over the past year schools have had an 85% pass rate while the education commissioner has extended lower passing scores for the STAAR exams for another year.   

Hammond said he thinks that the way Texas funds schools will resulted in multiple special sessions in the 2015 legislative session.