Press Releases

Texas School Finance System Ruled Unconstitutional

February 4, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas – State District Judge John Dietz ruled today that the Texas school finance system is unconstitutional by ruling in favor of the Calhoun County ISD plaintiffs on both of their claims. The Calhoun County ISD plaintiffs consist of a group of 89 school districts (many of them Texas School Coalition members) represented by Mark Trachtenberg and John Turner, attorneys with Haynes and Boone, LLP.

Judge Dietz held that the school finance system has evolved into an unconstitutional state property tax and that the system fails to provide the plaintiff districts access to funding sufficient to provide a constitutionally adequate education.

“Judge Dietz’s ruling is the first step in an important process. While we expect that the Texas Supreme Court will ultimately have its say, there is no reason why the Legislature has to wait on the appeals process before addressing the constitutional deficiencies in the system. Because of statutory mandates, rising academic standards and declining state funding, districts have lost meaningful discretion over their local property tax rates and have no opportunity to provide enrichment programming desired by their local communities.” said Mark Trachtenberg, Partner with Haynes and Boone.

Download TXSC Press Release

Official Ruling By Judge John Dietz

Comments from the Bench

Texas School Coalition lawsuit seeks funding for all schools

School Finance Trial Began Today in State District Court

October 22, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas – Mark Trachtenberg and John Turner, attorneys with Haynes and Boone, LLP, represent 88 school districts in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state school finance system. They issued the following statements today after the trial of the lawsuit began:

“Today, in opening arguments, we were pleased to present our two primary claims to the court. First, school districts lack the funding they need to meet the State’s own mandates and expectations for schools. Second, our districts have to use their available taxing capacity just to try to meet State requirements, and therefore lack any real control over setting their local tax rates. The result is a de facto state property tax,” said Trachtenberg.

“The combination of higher academic standards, growing populations of economically disadvantaged students and significant budget cuts in the last legislative session has led us to where we are today,” said Trachtenberg.

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Texas School Coalition Submits Testimony to Public School Finance Committee

Robin Hood to exceed $1 billion for tenth consecutive year

September 24, 2012

The Texas School Coalition (TXSC) submitted written testimony to a Joint Interim Committee that the Robin Hood system is expected to require districts to contribute more than $1 billion for the tenth year in a row, as the number of Robin Hood districts reaches a record high number.

High Robin Hood growth was attributed to the fact that the threshold for determining whether school districts are deemed property wealthy has dropped from the 90th to the 64th percentile of property wealth when comparing the start of the recapture system to today. The analysis, which also shows that recapture affected one percent of students in 1994 when compared to 34 percent today, was submitted to the Joint Interim Legislative Committee to Study the Public School Finance System by TXSC Executive Director, Christy Rome.

“The State has lowered the standard of wealth, and rather than bringing districts up and investing in education, more districts are seeing their level of funding being brought down,” Rome said. “Robin Hood was meant to raise the floor, but now the ceiling is being brought down on the heads of Texas students.”

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Recaptured School District List Reaches All-Time High

Robin Hood strikes 23 new school districts, 374 Texas districts

September 10, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas – New data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) shows a record
number of school districts are now considered property wealthy under Chapter 41 of the
Texas Education Code. A total of 374 school districts are subject to the recapture
provisions of the law during the 2012-2013 school year, and 23 appear on the list for the
first time.

“The fact that more districts qualify for this status than ever before reinforces the fact that
our method of funding public education is broken. Texas has just over 1000 school
districts and having close to 400 of them considered property wealthy shows that there is
not enough money in the system overall,” said Christy Rome, Executive Director of the
Texas School Coalition.

The Robin Hood system of school finance began in 1993 and applied to 35 school
districts. It took 14 years to reach 164 revenue-contributing districts, but only five years
to add the next 210 districts.

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State Rep. Vicki Truitt
To Host Town Hall Meetings
On School Finance
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
KELLER, TX – Representative Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) today announced a series of town hall meetings to
engage with local residents, educators, parents and students on challenges related to the current public
school finance system.Recently a select group of legislative leaders from around the state were appointed to a special
committee to study the state’s school finance system and recommend changes to the 2013 Legislature.”I am committed to achieving better funding levels and improving the quality and health of our education
system. We need to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of our schools and act in the best interest
of our students. They deserve the best teachers, leading standards and innovative schools,” said
Representative Truitt.

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District joins school finance lawsuit

February 24, 2012

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.
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Texas School Coalition Names New Executive Director

February 9, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas – Following an extensive search, the Texas School Coalition (TSC) today announced the selection of Christy Rome as its new executive director.

Rome is director of intergovernmental relations for the Austin Independent School District and has represented the Austin district as a member of TSC.
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Texas School Coalition Members File School Finance Lawsuit

State Funding Inadequate, System has Become Statewide Property Tax

December 09, 2011

Members of the Texas School Coalition, made up of revenue-contributing school districts, were among six school districts which today filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas school finance system. The lawsuit claims that the State fails to provide schools with sufficient funding to meet state educational standards and that the system has become a statewide property tax.

Mark Trachtenberg and John Turner of Haynes and Boone, LLP filed Calhoun County ISD et al vs. Robert Scott et al in state district court in Austin on behalf of six school districts. In addition to the six plaintiffs, another 54 school districts are represented by the law firm in connection with the case. Most of the participants are members of the Texas School Coalition, districts that have paid almost $15 billion in local taxes to the state finance system since 1993 and are projected to pay more than $1 billion this school year. Read More

Plaintiff List
Key Elements
Fact Sheet
Copy of Lawsuit

The Plano ISD Board of Trustees votes to join school finance lawsuit

November 16, 2011

PLANO, Texas, Nov. 16, 2011 – At the Tuesday, November 15, meeting of the Plano Independent School District (PISD) Board of Trustees, board members unanimously voted to join with other Texas public school districts in a lawsuit against the State of Texas. To continue reading, click here

Northwest ISD Joins Lawsuit against the State of Texas

November 18, 2011

At the November 14 Northwest ISD (NISD) school board meeting, the NISD Board of Trustees passed a resolution for NISD to join the Texas School Coalition (TSC) lawsuit against the state regarding the school finance system.
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The Plano ISD Board of Trustees votes to join school finance lawsuit

November 16, 2011

PLANO, Texas, Nov. 16, 2011 – At the Tuesday, November 15, meeting of the Plano Independent School District (PISD) Board of Trustees, board members unanimously voted to join with other Texas public school districts in a lawsuit against the State of Texas. To continue reading, click here

Press Release – Alamo Heights ISD

November 17, 2011

On November 17, 2011, the Alamo Heights ISD Board of Trustees joined a group of

other revenue-contributing school districts in a lawsuit against the State of Texas.

Alamo Heights ISD is a part of the Texas School Coalition (TSC). The TSC Board of

Directors has endorsed Haynes and Boone as the law firm to represent the interests of revenue-contributing districts (those districts that contribute local tax revenue to the

State of Texas General Revenue Fund). To continue reading, click here

HPISD joins school finance lawsuit

November 15, 2011

Highland Park ISD is joining a group of other revenue-contributing school districts in a lawsuit against the State of Texas.

Highland Park ISD is a part of the Texas School Coalition (TSC). The TSC Board of Directors has endorsed Haynes and Boone as the law firm to represent the interests of revenue-contributing districts, and the HPISD school board approved a letter of engagement with the firm at its Oct. 18 meeting. To continue reading, click here

Texas School Coalition Memo

Representation of School Districts in Upcoming Texas School Finance Litigation

October 13, 2011

On October 1, 2011, the Texas School Coalition executive board passed a resolution endorsing their member districts’ decision to hire Haynes and Boone to represent their interests in the anticipated school finance litigation. Our law firm represented many members of the Coalition – and many other districts – in the last round of successful school finance litigation in

2001-06. We are looking forward to the opportunity to do so again. At the request of the Coalition, this memorandum provides information about the litigation and the role we expect to play on behalf of the districts we represent. To continue reading, click here

Texas School Coalition Outlines Grounds for Finance Lawsuit

Focus Will Be on Overall Level of Funding for Schools, Not Divisive Issues

October 14, 2011

AUSTIN – The Texas School Coalition today released a memo outlining the claims its member districts will make in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state school finance system. To continue reading, click here

Texas School Coalition Endorses Law Firm for Funding Lawsuit
Legal Challenge Expected to be Filed in Coming Weeks
October 11, 2011
AUSTIN – The Texas School Coalition, a coalition of 120 Texas school districts, has passed a resolution endorsing the hiring of Haynes and Boone, LLP to bring a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system. To continue reading, click here