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May 3rd, 2012
Business group joins school finance lawsuit



The Texas Association of Business announced today that it will join a school finance lawsuit against the state, demanding a study of Texas school system efficiency.

“The Constitution of Texas calls for the state to provide an efficient public school system, and in our view, clearly the school system is not efficient,” said Bill Hammond, the organization’s president. “Only two-thirds of ninth-graders graduate in four years, and, of those who graduate, only a quarter are what we call career- or college-ready.”

Hammond hopes the suit will encourage the Legislature or the appropriate agency to produce a study into how much it may cost to create a better school system — even if that may cost more than what is currently spent.

“I would not preclude [spending more on students],” Hammond said. “We need an honest broker to do the study on the true costs of educating a child. We’ll deal with the facts as they’re presented to us.”

TAB will be joining the fifth party to sign up for litigation against the state, a group made up of parents. Hammond noted that they are they only litigants in the lawsuit looking specifically into efficiency.

Hammond made the announcement alongside former Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch and Chris Diamond, both attorneys in the case, and former House Education Committee Chairman Kent Grusendorf, who heads the organization bringing the lawsuit.

“There’s been a tremendous increase in spending and virtually no change with SAT scores, and in fact SAT scores have gone down,” Enoch said. “The purpose of our litigation is to put on the table the requirement that school districts, before they start arguing how much money they need, prove how much money it takes to educate a child.”

The business group frequently weighs in on education policy in the state: Today’s announcement comes after a recent effort to urge the State Board of Education to improve the state’s new math standards.

Hammond said the business community pays for roughly two-thirds of the education system in Texas and that it is the ultimate consumer — believing its goal for a better school system to be aligned with fellow litigants.

The lawsuit is set to go to court in October.

The Texas Association of Business is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.

GERALD RICH reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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2 thoughts on “Business group joins school finance lawsuit

  1. Perfect timing in light of our school board election in San Marcos!

    I hope our business community will be inspired by Mr. Hammond and the Texas Association of Business to demand the truth from the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District.

    The truth is:

    Our school district tax base in San Marcos is 42% business (versus 33% statewide) – for us in San Marcos, the business community is paying MORE of the cost of public education than in the typical Texas community.

    Our San Marcos school tax rate is HIGHER than the regional and state average but our district spends LESS per student in the classroom than the average district in Texas.

    For the San Marcos High School graduating classes of 2006-2010, only 14% of the students had competitive SAT/ACT scores. So, of the approximately 2200 high school graduates, only about 300 scored over
    1110 on the SAT and/or over 24 on the ACT.

    Overall, our performance by all SMCISD grades on Texas standardized tests (TAKS) is AVERAGE or BELOW AVERAGE (more often the latter).

    There is much work to be done but we must start with an honest and open community discussion of the facts.

    Early voting is going on now at the Hays County Government Center, 712 South
    Stagecoach Trail. Please go vote and let’s move San Marcos schools forward, together. My email address is Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

  2. Thanks for the information.

    I’ve always suspected that businesses pay for a lot of our school expenses, because residential property values are so low. It all kind of goes hand in hand.

    The below average classroom spending is disconcerting, although we definitely need to be particular about how we spend that money, even if more of it goes to the classroom.

    There is definitely work to be done. Thanks for working to bring these issues to light.

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