BY KATE ALEXANDER | Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, 12:00 AM
Lawyers representing hundreds of Texas school districts will return to court Tuesday to argue that the Legislature is still failing students even after restoring some of the education funding cut in 2011.
It is the next chapter — though far from the last — in a legal saga that eventually could affect students, parents, teachers and taxpayers across the state.
School finance litigation timeline
Late 2011: Lawsuits are filed by four groups of school districts, which together amount to two-thirds of Texas school districts, challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ school finance system. Two other plaintiff groups later join the case: one represents charter schools; the other, which includes the Texas Association of Business, argues for scrapping much of the education code to improve efficiency.
October 2012: Trial begins in Travis County courtroom of state District Judge John Dietz.
February 2013: Dietz rules Texas’ school finance system unconstitutional, finding that the Legislature failed to live up to its constitutional obligation by instituting historic budget cuts at the same time as it ratcheted up academic standards for students and schools.
May 2013: Texas Legislature passes a 2014-15 budget that restores $3.5 billion of the $5.4 billion in school funding that had been cut in 2011. Lawmakers also trim from 15 to five the number of high-stakes tests required of students for graduation.
June 2013: Dietz decides to reopen the trial in January 2014 to take new evidence based on the changes made by the Legislature. The delay allows for updated funding and student performance data to be introduced.
Tuesday: Trial restarts. Proceedings could last up to four weeks.
Kate Alexander has covered legislative battles over public school issues for six years as a member of the American-Statesman Capitol staff and has followed the court case on school finance since it began