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Local reaction to school finance ruling

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Amarillo, TX - Public schools in Texas could eventually see the reform they've been fighting for ... but the key word there is "eventually."

After two long years of litigation, the contentious school finance debate saw a turning point yesterday, when a Texas judge ruled the current school financing system unconstitutional - and area districts say that first step could give them the toehold they need to effect real change in our schools.

In 2011, Texas lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from public education, despite having an $8.8 billion surplus.  And in an age of shrinking budgets and rising populations, our public schools are struggling to do more with less.

So after a Travis County judge ruled the current financing system violates the state constitution, educators found reason to celebrate.

"Not only for Bushland, but for the whole state of Texas, it means that there's hope," says Bushland ISD Superintendent Don Wood.  "The decision from the courts yesterday has given us a sense of hope that we all realize that funding in the state of Texas is not adequate for all of the children in Texas."

There are more than five million students in Texas public schools, and three quarters of them are represented in the statewide lawsuit calling for the state to shoulder more of the burden than local property taxes.

"We know that this is the first step of several steps," concedes Wood.  "I'm sure that it will go through the appellate courts and ultimately the Supreme Court ... but the first decision that's made usually sets the tone as to how this will go."

The state attorney general's office has already said they will appeal the ruling, and argues that the problem lies not in the amount of funding, but how public schools are using it.

If you'd like to see breakdowns of what schools in our area have lost over the last two years, or get a bit more perspective on the issue, follow the links attached to this story.

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