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Kilgore ISD may join education funding suit

By Glenn Evans
March 26, 2012 at 11 p.m.

KILGORE - School Superintendent Jody Clements told Kilgore trustees Monday that he would prepare a resolution to join districts suing the state over education financing.

No action was taken as the school chief presented information on four lawsuits demanding lawmakers remake funding laws to adequately and equally pay for each child's education.

However, comments by board members indicated a likelihood Kilgore ISD could join the legal fray that's already drawn Longview, Big Sandy, Gladewater, Harleton, Leverett's Chapel and other Northeast Texas districts.

"If we don't join in the process, we're not holding up what we preach," Trustee Dereck Borders said, after noting he and other board members consistently ask taxpayers to let their voices be known to lawmakers in Austin.

He added his opposition to sitting on the sidelines while other districts fight.

"It's not really right for my neighbor to foot the whole bill and me sit back and get the full benefit of it."

Of the four lawsuits, one brought by the nonprofit, Equity Center, includes the most school district plaintiffs, Clements told the board. That lawsuit would ask Kilgore to pay a one-time joining fee of $5,480 - the fee based on the amount each district spend per student and a crux of the Equity Center's complaint because it varies widely throughout the state.

There are 407 districts in the suit filed by the Equity Center, which also brought the lawsuit that brought down the unequal funding plan in place during the nineties.

"At the next board meeting, we'll have a resolution ready for you," Clements told the board.

The board on Monday also agreed to sell $4.2 million in bonds as part of the $55 million bond program voters approved to rebuild several campuses.

Most of the bonds, $41.2 million already have been sold, said Doug Whitt with financial firm, Southwest Securities. Whitt said the newer portion of the bonds are being handled as Qualified School Construction Bonds which locks in zero percent interest.

Clements later reported that early work, clearing land and preparing sites, continues on schedule. He also said he would bring trustees a policy to consider that would govern how they handle unplanned change orders from contractors.



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