Weatherford Democrat

Big Story AM

September 30, 2011

Brock ISD enters lawsuit

School district joins others in protest against school financing

WEATHERFORD — At least one Parker County school is waging war against the state in response to a cut in public school financing.

Brock ISD board members recently approved a resolution with the Equity Center to file a lawsuit against the state’s inequitable public school finance plan.

“At the end of the 82nd legislative session, Moak, Casey and Associates calculated the state public school funding cuts to be $5.4 billion,” Brock superintendent Richard Tedder told the Democrat. “That was the total of $1.4 billion dollars in grant funding cuts and $4 billion in Foundation School funding cuts.

“Because of these reductions, districts across the state have been forced to ask their taxpayers to pass Tax Ratification Elections in order to make up some of the lost funds for school operations.”

On Saturday, Brock voters passed a proposed TRE, 228 votes to 115.

In a July 22 board meeting, members approved an adopted total tax rate of $1.391 per $100 value, with a $1.17 tax rate for maintenance and operations, reflecting a 7-cent decrease to the interest and sinking side, and moving 9 cents to maintenance and operations, up 2 cents from last year’s M&O rate.

“The successful TRE helped to recoup about one half of the funds lost to legislative cuts for our district,” Tedder said.

The cost to fund the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed next month, is $1 per weighted average daily attendance. For Brock, that will equal approximately, $1,185.

Tedder listed a number of reasons for the district’s choice to get involved, including funding suitability and higher expectations from the state.

“With the state continually raising expectations in accountability, they have at the same time cut funding and for the first time ever, decided not to fund student growth,” Tedder said. “About 80,000 new students a year enter the doors of public schools and for the next two years, the legislature provided no funding to educate these students.

“Therefore, we feel that the legislature has not met their obligations as called for by the state constitution to provide suitable funding while raising the required expectations.”

Brock joins more than 125 other school districts, as well as taxpayers and parents in the Taxpayers and Student Fairness Association, in the litigation.

The Equity Center was founded in 1982 by 55 school districts in response to gross inequities that existed in the state’s school finance system.

“This action has also been supported by some legislators in order to force equity issues in taxation and funding to be dealt with appropriately,” Tedder said.

The state’s current funding system has been in place since 2006.

For more information, go to www.equitycenter.org.

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