The Austin and Round Rock school districts have joined more than sixty school districts responsible for educating 1.5 million children in the fourth recent lawsuit against the state over its school finance system. With one-third of Texas’ student population, it’s the largest group of school districts ever to file suit against the state over how it funds education, according to plaintiff attorneys Thompson and Horton.
“The group represents rural, big town, small town, suburban, urban, fast growth, property poor, property wealthy, and average wealth districts,” the law firm wrote in a news release.
AISD trustees voted to join the lawsuit in October. The suit says the state has increased the academic requirements for school districts, but failed to provide funding to pay for it.
The four lawsuits filed against the state since October come after a $5.4 billion cut to public education implemented by the Texas legislature earlier this year. Lawmakers were constitutionally required to close a $15 billion budget gap, but did not want to increase taxes.
“There's no question the legislative actions had a serious, harmful effect on public education in Texas,” attorney Mark Trachtenberg told Dallas NPR station KERA in November. He’s representing the TSC in its lawsuit.
The other two suits were filed by middle- and low-income districts. They are being brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Equity Center. Both cite wide disparities in per student funding school districts receive.
“All school districts are facing challenges with the recent budget cuts, but for districts like Edgewood (in San Antonio) and McAllen (in South Texas), the inequities are patently unfair. The gap of over $1,000 per child translates to over $22,000 per classroom. This is reprehensible,” Edgewood ISD Superintendent Jose Cervantes said in a news release last month.