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School Finance and the Courts

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In a recent Education Week Commentary, attorney Alfred A. Lindseth, who specializes in school finance litigation, argues that state courts
are becoming more reluctant to intervene in school funding lawsuits that seek more money for K-12 schools.

The reasons? Despite a history of awarding school funding increases in some states, courts are realizing that schools alone are not responsible for the faults of American education, he writes. Judges also question whether increased spending will boost student achievement, and whether courts should be making these decisions in the first place.

What do you think? Have the courts overstepped their bounds in making school finance decisions? What role should the courts play in deciding education policy and funding?

4 Comments

"What role should the courts play in deciding education policy..." - this comment is on the policy question rather than the funding question: If the courts were to find that the explicit exemption schools from the age-nondiscrimination law is unconstitutional, I would be the first to rejoice.

In Ohio, the Supreme Court declined to make school finance decisions. They did however, on four occasions rule that the the Legislature had failed in their Constitutional duty to provide for a efficient system of common schools (or words to that effect). In evaluating, certainly the distribution of funding came into play.

While there have been some changes to the funding system--at last judgement, the system remained unconstitutional. The Court refused to step outside it's bounds to define a recommendation. The Legislature refused to take on the tough task of redistribution of the educational wealth.

That is where it stands today. My only problem with the Court was that they ultimately closed the case when the Legislature refused to play. It's really on the public now, to elect legislators who will follow the Constitution. While there are variations in the experiences in other states, the Courts are asked in with a question of Constitutionality. School finance ought not be protected from consideration.

A Study of Fiscal Autonomy for Public Schools
Every year school boards are faced with asking their governing bodies
for revenue they need to continue the services they provide and every
year they are short changed.
By giving school boards taxing authority, school boards would have
the authority to decide what is going to happen in their schools and
to generate the revenue necessary to make that happen.
Revenue for K-12 public schools comes primarily from state
governments, local governments and the federal government.
A solution to the financing of public elementary and secondary schools may lay within the late Justice Thurgood Marshall’s descending opinion in U.S. Supreme Court SAN ANTONIO SCHOOL DISTRICT v. RODRIGUEZ, 411 U.S. 1 (1973)

Payroll problems? Just do as our district does when they run out of money. Issue RAN's and TAN's to meet payroll. Revenue Anticipated Notes and Tax anticipated Notes. This is the same as a person paid every two weeks and spends it all in one. There are many loan sharkes willing to lend money with their next pay check as colateral. How do you run out of money mid year with a $1.2 Billion budget?
Bob

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