Northside ISD joins school funding lawsuit

November 16, 2011

Superintendent says the state of Texas has failed to adequately and equitably fund Texas public education.

The Northside ISD Board of Trustees Tuesday night voted to join hundreds of school districts across the state in challenging the constitutionality of the current school funding system.

The District will be represented by the Thompson & Horton law firm, which also represented Northside ISD in the last school funding lawsuit in 2005.

"We owe it to the students of Northside ISD and to school children across the state to fight for funding for public education," said Karen Freeman, President of the Board of Trustees.

Superintendent John Folks said: "The Legislature established a system that is inadequate and certainly inequitable for taxpayers and students. The school finance system must be restructured to provide an adequate revenue source, provide greater equity, and give local school districts discretion."

The lawsuit, which will be filed in district court, claims the Texas school finance system is inadequate, inefficient, and has resulted in an unconstitutional statewide property tax.

In 2005, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in West Orange Cove that the state's school finance system was operating a state property tax in violation of the Texas Constitution. The state Legislature restructured the school funding system and reduced property taxes by creating a business tax.

However, the business tax failed to produce enough revenue, and earlier this year, the Legislature slashed more than $5 billion from Texas public education. As a result, Northside ISD cut its budget by $61 million and eliminated almost 1,000 staff positions.

In the midst of the cuts, the Texas Legislature has continued to increase accountability standards and testing requirements for school districts. At the same time, Texas has added an average of 80,000 public school students annually. Northside ISD is growing by about 3,000 students per year.

"The goal of the lawsuit is to benefit all school districts by requiring the Legislature to establish a funding system that reflects the growth of the student population and is tied to the high standards it sets for students," Folks adds.

"It is unfortunate that the state has to be forced to do what is right for Texas school children, because the Legislature has failed to provide an efficient and effective school funding system," Folks said. "The state of Texas has failed to adequately and equitably fund Texas public education."