Constitutional Law Keyed to Farber
Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby
The Texas Constitution expressly requires the state legislature to create a system for financing public schools. Under the current system, each district derives funds from state tax revenue, local tax revenue, and federal and other sources. Specifically, the state supplies money derived from sales, severance, and excise taxes, while local districts rely on property tax revenue. However, the amount of property taxes available for school funding depends on the relative wealth of the district. For example, during the 1985–86 school year, the 100 wealthiest districts spent an average of $7,233 per student, while the 100 poorest districts spent an average of $2,978. The average property tax rate in the wealthy districts was 47 cents for every $100 in property value, but the average tax rate in the poorer districts was 74.5 cents. The disparities created by the financing scheme were challenged in state court as violating the Texas Constitution, which requires the legislature to create an efficient system for financing public education that provides for a “general diffusion of knowledge.” The court of appeals held that the system satisfied the constitutional requirements. That decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas.
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