Funding Adequacy Trial Begins in Montana
Trial began on January 20, 2004
in State District Court in the Montana school funding
adequacy case, Columbia Falls v. State. The lawsuit was originally
filed in 2002 by the Montana
Quality Education Coalition, an organization that represents state school
districts, education groups, parents, and the state's teachers union. Plaintiffs
claim that the current state finance system is unconstitutional and does not provide
adequate, cost-based funding for Montana's public schools.
lead attorney Jim Molloy proclaimed in his opening arguments, as reported by the
Helena Independent Record,
''The state of Montana is failing to meet its constitutional obligation with respect
to school funding…This case is about the state providing what is necessary to
provide a quality education.'' He has indicated that plaintiffs will call witnesses
who will testify that educational programs have been slashed and students harmed
due to inadequate resources.
in the Record, plaintiffs' witnesses will also demonstrate a decline in the
state's share of education funding and an increased reliance on local property
taxes for public schools. Leading education finance experts and local school officials
are expected to testify.
Attorneys for both sides have expressed their
intention to appeal the court's decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
January 23, 2004