Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana has signed into law a measure that he believes will satisfy a court order requiring the state to find a new school aid formula.
In November 2004, the Montana Supreme Court called the previous funding system “constitutionally deficient.” In that preliminary ruling, which was reiterated in March of last year, the court ordered the legislature to replace the finance system with one based on “educationally relevant factors.”
In a special legislative session called last month by Mr. Schweitzer, a Democrat, lawmakers authorized $71 million in additional K-12 funding for fiscal 2006. A spokesman for the governor said that he expects the new law to meet the court’s demands.
Jack Copps, the executive director of the Montana Quality Education Coalition, the organization that filed the school finance lawsuit, said the new law doesn’t fulfill the court order, however, because “it is not tied to the definition of a ‘quality’ education in Montana as defined in law now.”