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Judge sets trial date as more schools join finance lawsuit

AUSTIN - State District Judge John Dietz signed an order Monday establishing an October tentative trial date for Texas’ school finance lawsuits.

Four lawsuits on behalf of hundreds of school districts statewide have been filed in response to school finance legislation passed by the Texas Legislature last summer. They charge that the way Texas distributes funding to school districts is inadequate and inequitable. Dietz, who handled school finance lawsuits in 2004, has consolidated the cases.

The current suits are the eighth round of litigation filed in the state since 1968.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the Equity Center says more than 40 percent of districts across the state are now represented in the Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition. That accounts to well over 400 school districts and represents over 1.3 million schoolchildren across the state, making it the largest number of school districts to file a school finance lawsuit against the state.

Dozens of local schools, big and small, are involved in the suit, including one of their most recent additions; Bland ISD, which serves rural Hunt and Collin County students.

“I think having over 40 percent of all the districts in the state participating in the Fairness Coalition sends a very clear message that Texas schools, students and taxpayers deserve and demand better,” says Dr. Wayne Pierce, executive director of the Equity Center.  “This level of involvement illustrates the importance of funding public education in a fair and equitable way, and we’re proud to represent so many districts in the pursuit of this cause.”

The Fairness Coalition filed the original school finance lawsuit against the state in October 2011; this lawsuit claims the current school finance system is broken because it does not treat Texas taxpayers and students fairly.

The Fairness Coalition says the goal of this lawsuit is to achieve a funding system that treats all Texas children and taxpayers fairly, and provides every child the opportunity for a world-class education.