school finance

Education
3:13 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Judge Strikes Down Texas School Finance System

Judge John Dietz issued a ruling calling the state's school finance system constitutionally inadequate.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Today, Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz issued a ruling that finds the way Texas pays for public schools unconstitutional, calling it a de facto statewide property tax.

The case was brought by hundreds of Texas school districts after the state legislature cut $5 billion from public school funding in 2011.

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Austin ISD
10:32 am
Fri August 22, 2014

'Alarm' Over Texas School Finance, But Changes Not Expected Soon

Despite a possible decision in the school finance case next week, it could be years before local school districts see a change to the way public schools are financed in Texas.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A decision in the latest school finance lawsuit is expected next week, but it could be years before school districts see any changes to the way education is paid for in Texas.

Right now, the school finance system is largely characterized by something called recapture, or  Robin Hood. If a school district collects more local property taxes than the state has determined it needs using a set of formulas, it has to give the difference back to the state. Then, the state puts that money in a big pot and uses it to fund other school districts, especially those that can’t raise enough local property taxes on their own.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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AISD
9:53 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Despite a Majority of Low-Income Students, 'Robin Hood' Targets AISD's Budget

More than 60 percent of students in the Austin Independent School District come from low-income families.
Photo by KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gears up to trim the fiscal fat this budget season, the district faces a tough financial future.

Enrollment is flat, and the school board is preparing to lose more than $1 billion to the state's school finance system over the next five years through "recapture," which shares revenue from districts with high property tax revenues with low-income school districts.

The board met last night to discuss the future for the district next year and in the future.

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School Finance
6:30 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Lawyers Give Closing Arguments in Texas School Finance Trial

Judge John Dietz heard closing arguments Friday in the Texas school finance trial. He says he expects to make a final ruling in the spring.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

There finally seems to be an end in sight in the Texas school finance trial as lawyers gave closing arguments Friday afternoon.

The trial initially examined if Texas constitutionally funds public education. In 2012, District Judge John Dietz preliminarily ruled the system was unconstitutional, but he reopened the trial to see if the actions of the 2013 legislature could change his final ruling.

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School Finance
4:48 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Texas Judge Reopens School Finance Trial (Update)

Judge John Dietz (right) speaking with lawyers on both sides of the school finance trial, which reopened Tuesday with opening arguments. The trial will see if actions during the 2013 legislature should change the judge's initial ruling.
Kate McGee, KUT News

Update: Travis County District Judge John Dietz heard opening arguments today in the second round of Texas' school finance trial. The two sides are arguing over whether actions taken by the legislature last year change the judge’s preliminary ruling that the state’s public education finance system is unconstitutional.

When the legislature reconvened last year, it added back $3.4 billion for public education after it cut $5.4 billion during the 2011 session. Lawmakers reduced the number of required standardized tests for graduation from 15 to five.

At issue: were those changes enough to create a fair and equitable system to finance public education and allow schools and students to meet the state standards?

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Education
11:35 am
Tue July 16, 2013

How the School Finance Trial Will Impact Texas Education

A revamped school trial will begin in January to determine whether the 2013 legislature went far enough to fund the state's public education system this session.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

If you're confused by the all the lawsuits, arguments and recent rulings in the ongoing Texas school finance case, you're not alone.

Last month, the drawn out saga took a new turn when the presiding judge in the case said he'd need to reopen the case in January to determine whether the way the state pays for its public schools still needs fixing. In essence, it looks like Texas has another six week trial to look forward to.

It seems like now is as good a time as any to get up to speed on where the case has been, and where it could go from here.

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Education
7:24 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Will Surplus Revenue go to Public Education?

Republican Representative Jim Pitts is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
The Texas Tribune

One of the men who controls the state’s checkbook is leaving the door open to restoring some of the $5.4 billion in public education cuts enacted two years ago.

House Appropriations chair Jim Pitts took questions from lawmakers on the House floor today, including one from Austin Democrat Donna Howard.

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Education
7:17 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Moody's: TX School Finance Ruling 'Credit Negative'

Texas' coveted Triple-A credit rating could be at risk
Texas Tribune

The Moody’s credit rating agency says last week’s Texas school finance ruling could have a negative effect on the state’s credit rating.  Last week, a state district court ruled that the present school finance system is unconstitutional, in part because it inadequately funds public schools.

Moody’s is not downgrading Texas’ coveted triple-A credit rating, but the report suggests that could all change if the state is forced to tap its reserves to overhaul the school finance system.

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Education
6:42 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Judge: State's Education Funding System Unconstitutional

More than 600 school districts from across Texas are celebrating now that Judge John Dietz from the 250th District Court found the state’s school finance system was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, state attorneys are gearing up to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.   

The lead attorney for the state in this case is Nichole Bunker-Henderson. She told the court, “It is true, as the plaintiffs have alleged, that we have all been asked to do more with less. State agencies cut nearly 10 percent of their budgets, and districts less than half of that. Our system did not collapse," she said. "It did not fall off the bridge. Perhaps the system became more efficient.”

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The Lead
9:30 am
Tue February 5, 2013

The Lead: Austin Road Deaths Mount; WilCo Inquiry Continues

The city is looking for advice on how to make streets safer.
flickr.com/rutlo

Good morning. The National Weather Service says sunny and warm weather is the order of the day, with expected highs in the mid-70s.

Lead Story: Ten people have died in traffic accidents in Austin so far this year. That’s twice as many as this time last year.

The city has launched a survey as part of an effort to reverse that trend, looking for feedback on how to make Austin safer for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. You can find the survey on the city’s website.

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Education
7:27 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Charter Schools 'Disappointed' With School Finance Ruling

Judge John Dietz in his courtroom before he ruled that school finance system unconstitutional on February 4th, 2013
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

State district Judge John Dietz's ruling that the Texas school finance system is unconstitutional is being celebrated by many school district administrators, but one group involved the lawsuit is probably not popping champagne bottles tonight: charter school advocates.

“We are disappointed that Judge Dietz ruled against charter school students and their parents, denying them constitutional protections,” Texas Charter Schools Association executive director David Dunn said in a statement. He added, however, that they were pleased with the ruling that the overall education system is inadequate.

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Education
4:05 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

School Finance Ruling Favors Districts

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

In a decision certain to be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, state district Judge John Dietz ruled Monday in favor of more than 600 school districts on all of their major claims against the state's school finance system.  With a swift ruling issued from the bench shortly after the state finished its closing arguments, Dietz said the state does not adequately or efficiently fund public schools — and that it has created an unconstitutional de-facto property tax in shifting the burden of paying for them to the local level.

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The Lead
9:02 am
Mon February 4, 2013

The Lead: Ruling Coming in Texas School Finance Trial, Inquiry Begins in Morton Prosecution

A quiet moment at Austin's Bowie High School. AISD was one of 600 school districts to sue the state over school funding.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for another day of slightly-warmer-than-average temperatures today, with light sprinkles this morning.

Lead Story: A ruling is set be issued to today on whether the appropriation of state school funds is constitutional.

Over 600 Texas school districts sued the state after lawmakers slashed public funding and grant programs by $5.4 billion dollars in 2011.

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School Finance
5:04 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Industry Leader: Texas Businesses Can't Find Qualified Applicants

Businesses say jobs require training that prospects don't have
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond testified in the ongoing school finance trial yesterday, saying that Texas businesses can’t find applicants that have the academic and professional skills required. Hammond says that the most educated segment of Texas’ workforce is the soon-to-be retired.

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Education
5:15 am
Thu January 3, 2013

How Austin Baby Boomers' Tax Perk Hurts Texas' Bottom Line

Texas Tribune

January usually marks a mad rush to the local tax office to pay property taxes. If you are a homeowner turning 65 years old, you can apply for a property tax exemption from Travis County and for a cap to your school taxes. It's a  perk for taxpayers that could affect local school districts. 

First, it’s important to note that thousands of Austinites will be turning 65 this year. That’s why last May, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell appointed task force on aging. Angela Atwood serves on the task force. She say “aging is the issue of our time and Austin and Central Texas is an epicenter nationally.”

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Education
11:21 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Listen: How a Texas Lawsuit Could Change School Finance

Photo by flickr.com/photos/lnx

A school finance lawsuit underway now could transform how we pay for public education in Texas.

About 600 school districts are suing the state. Arguments started nine weeks ago and could last another month or longer and a decision is not expected until after the next legislative session ends. KUT News spoke with David Hinojosa, an attorney with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Education
9:37 am
Tue November 27, 2012

AISD Superintendent Takes Stand in School Finance Trial

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is expected to take the stand again today in the school finance trial.

AISD is one of about 600 Texas school districts suing the state. AISD says the state has increased academic requirements, but failed to provide funding to pay for it.

The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

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The Lead
9:00 am
Wed October 24, 2012

The Lead: Historic Tax Exemptions, SXSW Takes Vegas, Oil Boom Creates Jobs Across Texas

Good Morning. Once the clouds dissipate, Austin can expect warm weather with a high of 86, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some stories KUT News has been working on:

Three Austinites are suing the City of Austin, Travis County, the Austin Independent School District and Central Health for allowing tax breaks on what the plaintiffs refer to as “allegedly” historic properties.

AMLI Residential, builder of several high profile apartment communities in Austin, has announced it is going to build a mid-rise project in Mueller town center.

The popular Austin film, music and interactive festival is rolling out the SXSW V2 festival in Las Vegas in August. Rather than merely being an extension of the music and film events that take place in Austin, SXSW V2 is geared toward tech startups.

Texas Republicans have made limiting trimming the state budget an integral part of their mission over the last decade, but many worry the state has simply shifted the burden to local governments.   

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Education
9:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Texas Schools Head to Court in Finance Lawsuit

A funding lawsuit joined by over 600 school districts heads to court today.
flickr.com/therefore

Opening arguments begin today in a school finance lawsuit pitting about 600 school districts, including the Austin Independent School District, against the State of Texas. The legal battle could reshape how money is distributed to classrooms.

The way schools are currently funded in Texas is an intensely complicated set of mathematical formulas that even experts sometimes struggle with. Without wading too deeply into the Texas Education Code, here’s what you need to know about the school finance lawsuit getting started today:

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