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Ahead of School Finance Trial, Sulphur Springs ISD Joins Suit

SULPHUR SPRINGS - The more than 400 school districts involved in an education finance lawsuit filed by the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition now includes Sulphur Springs ISD.

Trustees last week joined the suit, which has been consolidated with five other lawsuits regarding the state’s school finance system, and is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 22 in Austin.

The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram reports Superintendent Michael Lamb told board members he’s on in favor of reform.

“Yes, I’d like to see the fund formula changed. Among Texas public school districts, the ones most aggressive, 417 districts, are already on board. To the rest of us, this is a second or third letter asking us to join them to get the other 95.”

The Equity Center, in a letter to SSISD, stated that the Fairness Coalition is trying to obtain support from 95 additional districts in order to have “a majority of all the public school districts working for a fair and adequate funding system.”

“We want to blow up the current funding cycle and start fresh,” Lamb added. “So many numbers are based on numbers from 2006. The lawsuit declares it unconstitutional because it’s not fair, not equitable.”

The unanimous decision by Sulphur Springs’ trustees to join the suit also included a one-time fee not to exceed $1,000 to assist in the litigation costs.

Per-student funding across Texas ranges from under $5,000 to over $10,000, even though state accountability standards are applied to all children uniformly.

Here’s a map of districts who’ve joined the lawsuits, compiled by the Equity Center. (Note: Map last updated June 1, 2012).

More than 30 local districts had joined the Fairness Coalition’s suit as of this summer, while many others in our region are involved in another suit.

School finance is expected to be another hot item when the Texas Legislature convenes in January. The most recent school finance bill was passed by the 82nd Legislature in 2011, and was co-authored by District 2 State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville).