Claiming the current school funding system violates provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lake Travis Independent School District (LTISD) Board of Trustees will join more than 80 other property-wealthy districts in litigation against the state. The unanimous vote occurred during a regular meeting of the Board held February 23 at the District’s Educational Development Center.

The Board’s action authorizes LTISD staff to engage the services of Haynes and Boone, LLP, who on behalf of the Calhoun County Independent School District filed suit against the state on December 9, 2011 (Calhoun County ISD et al vs. Robert Scott). The firm represents one of five current lawsuits on school finance filed against the state. According to Texas Lone Star magazine, a publication of the Texas Association of School Boards, more than 540 school districts representing about two-thirds of Texas schoolchildren have filed suit seeking to overturn the current system.

The Calhoun County plaintiffs are associated with the Texas School Coalition, an organization of revenue-contributing school districts which include Eanes, Highland Park, Alamo Heights and others. The plaintiffs contend the state’s current finance model fails to provide schools with sufficient funding to meet state educational standards and that the system has become a statewide property tax.

“As a result of the most recent Legislative session and based on current state funding formulas, LTISD will lose approximately $8 million over the next biennium (2011-2012 and 2012-13 school years),” said Dr. Brad Lancaster, LTISD Superintendent of Schools. “Consequently, we have grave concerns regarding our ability to protect the interests of our students and the Lake Travis community in the coming years.”

According to the Texas Education Code, property-wealthy districts must contribute a portion of their local revenue to the state for distribution to less wealthy districts. The current system of wealth equalization is often referred to as ‘recapture,’ or Robin Hood. Since 1994-1995, LTISD has sent the state over $257 million in recapture payments. Plaintiffs in the Texas School Coalition lawsuit hope to secure a permanent injunction that would prohibit the state from distributing money under the current financing system.

“Even with the cuts in funding we’ve already absorbed, it is important to know that through frugal planning and cost-saving measures, we did not eliminate a single staff member or teacher position—and perhaps more importantly—no student programs were eliminated,” added Dr. Lancaster. “However, if the system goes unfixed, it will only be a matter of time before school districts like ours no longer have the funds or the discretion to provide the current level of programs and services that our students deserve.”

Contact: Marco Alvarado
Director of Communications
O: 512-533-6046
M: 512-659-2429
E: alvaradom@ltisdschools.org

Earlier this year, the Travis County District Court assigned the four lawsuits to Judge John K. Dietz of the 250th District Court. LTISD’s is expected to incur $15,000 for expenses associated with the lawsuit.

For more information, contact the Lake Travis ISD Office of Communications at (512) 533-6046.

Original story at http://crcstx.org/pdf/Lake%20Travis%20PR_02-24-12.pdf

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