Regional News

HISD Eyes State Lawsuit

The Houston Independent School District may join in a lawsuit against Texas over inequities in the state's school finance system, board president Paula Harris said last week at a news conference.

Harris said the district may need to raise taxes or tap into its reserve fund if state funding proves to be inadequate.

"Everything is still on the table," Harris said at the news conference. She was joined by Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

The Houston district was party to a suit several years ago that forced changes in how the state finances local education, Harris said, and several districts across the state are looking into another attempt.

"I cannot say we would sit this one out," Harris said.

The draft state budget would have cut HISD's aid by $160 million in fiscal 2012, and more in fiscal 2013. The final package reduced the HISD's total cuts to $78 million next year and $126 million in fiscal 2013.

She said the revisions are not still acceptable.

"That's like someone punching you in the face twice and saying, 'Be glad we didn't punch you three times,' " Harris said.

HISD superintendent Terry Grier has proposed a range of options, from increasing the tax rate by 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to reducing the homestead exemption to 15% from the current 20%.

The Houston Independent School District's property tax rate of $1.1567 per $100 of assessed value is the lowest rate among all Harris County school districts.



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