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Texas School Finance Reform Effort Fails in Special Session

The Texas legislature Tuesday evening gave up on an effort to overhaul the state's longstanding school funding formula. 

The state's Senate instead set up a commission to study ways to make changes to the formula during its next session in 2019, according to the Associated Press.  

Texas' supreme court last year said that while the state's spending method was wanting, it wasn't its role to tell the legislature how to spend its money. That set off a scramble during this year's regular session to come up with a new way to distribute the state's education funds. That effort failed after the Senate tacked onto a funding formula bill language that would have allowed for the use of vouchers in the state.  

During this year's one-month special session, the state's House proposed a bill that would have provided the state's schools with $1.8 billion extra money, but with several strings attached. But senators couldn't agree on several of those provisions, including the cost and how the state would pay for charter school facilities and retired teachers' health insurance.  The $1.8 billion package was ultimately scrapped Tuesday night.

"To say I'm disappointed is an understatement," said House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty, according to the Associated Press.  

The school budget lawmakers did agree on won't change the state's per-pupil spending level but will provide rural and charter schools more money and pay for traditional schools' new construction costs.

The state's special session ends this week.  

Texas now joins an unusually high number of states seeking to take significant steps to overhaul their funding formula.

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