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More Hearings Possible in Texas School Funding Case

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

District Court Judge John Dietz said this morning he will hold a hearing to consider reopening the  Texas School Finance case to weigh the impacts of  changes made to education during the most recent legislative session. 

He scheduled a hearing on June 19 to listen to arguments, and said lawyers on both sides must come to "substantial agreement" that more hearings are needed. Judge Dietz declared the state’s funding system unconstitutional in February,ruling that the school funding system isn't providing enough money for schools to meet state achievement standards. 

This legislative session, lawmakers restored $3.9 billion from the $5.4 billion in education money cut in the 2011 legislative session. Lawmakers also passed a bill reducing the number of end of course exams from 15 to five. Governor Perry has until June 16 to sign bills into law.  

The case is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Mark Trachtenberg, a lawyer representing some of the school districts, says that means the case needs to be as fresh as possible.

“Courts are not going to make rulings on a system as it doesn’t exist anymore. We need to refresh the record so when the Supreme Court gets the case, what the system will look like in light of the legislation," Trachtenberg said.

The judge added this is not a chance to completely re-litigate the trial. 

Judge Dietz has not given an official written ruling on the case, but at Wednesday's hearing he said he is currently working on a written ruling.

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