What’s at Stake in the School Finance Ruling

Chandra Kring Villanueva

We’re eagerly awaiting the Texas Supreme Court’s school finance ruling, expected almost any day. It’s a good time to consider what it would take for our school finance system to adequately and equitably fund our public schools so all Texas kids have access to a quality education, no matter where they live or what their background.

Our education system is like a valuable home that’s in need of some repairs. When you remodel your home, you must do more than simply touch up the paint; you make substantial changes, keeping the previous shape of the house, but updating old parts and making the house more modern and efficient. It’s time for a serious remodel of our school finance system.

During the last legislative session in 2015, lawmakers made some small and important updates, but they effectively produced little more than the equivalent of a fresh coat of paint. Much more work remains before we have a well-functioning school finance system that meets the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce. To effectively remodel and update our school finance system, the Legislature will need to:

  • Commission an objective, third-party study on the level of funding required to meet the academic standards currently in place;
  • Update several elements of the funding formulas, some of which haven’t been adjusted for nearly three decades;
  • Bring up funding levels for all districts by increasing the basic allotment; and
  • Adjust the basic allotment for inflation and build in periodic reviews.

Read our new policy brief The Texas School Finance Challenge and What to Do About It for an overview of the school finance system, the minor changes made during the 2015 legislative session, and our recommendations to increase the adequacy and equity of the system for all Texas students.

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