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Judge Finds Texas School Funding System Unconstitutional

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.

Sara Robberson / Special to KERA
Special to KERA

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.

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
Shelley Kofler
Shelley Kofler is managing editor/senior reporter forKERANews. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who has served asKERAnews director and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliateWFAA-TV. Her expertise on legislative policy issues includes school finance, foster care and transportation; and her stories on the overmedication of foster children captured the attention of state officials who strengthened laws for the use of psychotropic drugs.