The Commerce Journal

February 6, 2013

Superintendents react to school finance ruling

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — According to Austin based Judge John Dietz, the way that Texas public schools are funded is unconstitutional.

Judge Dietz made that ruling on Monday after hearing a more than three month long case on school funding. This isn’t the first time he’s made this ruling either. Eight years earlier, Dietz made the same ruling, which brought about massive school reforms.  

Last October, more than 600 school districts across the state sued Texas after the 82nd Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public schools.

The state is likely to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

Blake Cooper, superintendent of Commerce Independent School District said this was an expected ruling.

“I think it states the obvious,” he said. “The state is unconstitutional in its funding of schools.”

During the trial, a few of the superintendents, including Micheal French, superintendent of Quinlan ISD, spoke in Ausin.

According to French, Texas public schools were already facing financial challenges before the state cut $5.4 billion from education in 2011.

“We already had a disparity problem before the cuts, and that made it worse,” he said. “All it does is hurt and cheat kids.”

Although French is happy with the result, he said that this ruling is round one of many to come.

“It could take 12 to 18 months for the appeals process, then the legislature will have to act,” he said. “I hope they do the right thing now in this session.”

Cooper said the superintendents who spoke in the case deserve to be praised.

“To endure the questioning they had to endure, they’re to be applauded,” he said. “I am very very pleased with the decision.”

Superintendents don’t usually delve into politics, but according to Cooper, they were fed up with how schools were being funded.

“We’re just tired of being treated like this,” he said. “We’ve had enough of our kids not being treated fairly.”