Nov

23

Malakoff ISD joins lawsuit aimed at education funding

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : November 23, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan

Malakoff ISD will be joining a lawsuit against the State of Texas aimed at problems with school funding.

Monday night, school board members unanimously accepted Superintendent Randy Perry’s recommendation to join the suit led by the law firm Haynes and Boone. Perry said the suit has been recommended by the Texas School Coalition, which is a group of Chapter 41 schools.

Under the state’s finance plan, money from property rich districts, called Chapter 41 schools, is given to poorer school districts. Malakoff has been categorized as a Chapter 41 district for several years and annually sends revenue back to the state. MISD is a member of the Texas School Coalition.

“It seems that the only way the State Legislature will do the right thing for our students is to have it mandated to them by the courts,” said Perry. “The State Legislature did not meet their Constitutional requirement of adequately funding the education of our students. The future opportunities for our Malakoff ISD students is at risk. We must look at all options to protect our students.”

Joining the case will cost the district $1,600 a year for up to three years, but board members hope the lawsuit is complete in two years.

“We can’t afford to stand on the sidelines,” said Perry.

MISD Trustee Dr. Pat Smith, a former superintendent, agreed. “We need to have some impact,” he said.

The legal case against the State will be based on two principles, said Haynes and Boone attorney John Turner in a press release provided by the Texas School Coalition.

Adequacy: The state has raised expectations and requirements for school districts, which adds costs, while significantly decreasing its funding to those same districts. Even though the state is increasingly using local school district tax dollars, the total level of funding is inadequate to pay for the kind of quality educational program required by the state.

Local discretion: Local school districts no longer have meaningful discretion to raise taxes for local enrichment programs. Those dollars that are not recaptured must effectively be used to simply meet the state’s standards. The school finance system imposes a de facto statewide property tax, which is unconstitutional.

“These are both essential claims that, if successful, will help to preserve the future of education for our children,” Turner said. “If we succeed in our claims regarding adequacy, it will benefit all districts by requiring the Legislature to provide new funds and new capacity in the system. In the past, we have seen one group of districts pitted against another to fight over existing dollars – many of them recapture dollars. The point is that the system as a whole is underfunded, and the school financing structure must be fixed to provide for the educational program that the state requires.”

The Haynes and Boone lawsuit is not the only one being planned. In his blog, Eustace ISD Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe last week listed four main groups challenging the way the state funds education:

  • The Texas School Coalition
  • a group organized by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
  • a group of schools organized by attorney David Thompson,
  • the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition (which EISD is a member).

“(T)he Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition is challenging the current funding system on both equity and adequacy,” wrote Holcombe. “There are currently 321 school districts in this coalition.

It is expected that the various legal teams will work together.

Monitor Editor Pearl Cantrell contributed to this report.

Comments (2)

  1. [...] Story No. 3 – Education funding lawsuits: The Malakoff ISD school board this week decided to join a lawsuit against the State of Texas regarding school funding. Why it is important: School funding doesn’t just touch everyone in the county, the issue goes directly back to the past Legislative Session and the way lawmakers cut the budget. Malakoff is not the only district involved – no, far from it. There are four different groups filing lawsuits, and the biggest one (which includes Eustace ISD but not Malakoff) represents more than 300 districts. Learn more: The Malakoff story is here. [...]

  2. Carl F. Miller said on 23-11-2011

    This Marxist-styled property tax confiscation scheme is going to blow-up very soon. People are tired of being held hostage to the dolts serving on schoolboards. Why should a person with $500.00 a month social security income be taxed to pay teachers and principals who are already pulling in $40,000 or $50,000 or $80,000 dollars for nine months work; medical benefits, three month vacations and other perks? When was the last time your schoolboard dolts asked you if you could afford to pay more taxes on your property?

    Quit thinking you “own” your house! Just STOP paying the heinous property taxes on it and you will quickly learn who owns it. Wake Up, get rid of schoo!boards and incompetent freeloading teachers and their grubby unions. There ought to be one tax —a tax on a person’s earned income. Only citizens who can afford to pay taxes—any kind of taxes—should be required to pay them.

    Pennsylvanian’s are fed-up with property taxes. If you want to learn what we are doing to abolish all taxes on our homes, go to http://www.grandoldusa.com and you’ll find out. Information is located at this site (S.T.O.P.) Stop Taxing Our Property.

    Good Luck,

    C.F. Miller
    Pennsylvania

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