Thirty-three Idaho school districts will be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the formula used to apportion state public school funding to local districts.

Fourth District Judge Gerald Schroeder signed an order Thursday allowing the districts to intervene in the lawsuit.The 33 districts and other plaintiffs have filed their own lawsuit over school funding. But at a Dec. 10 court hearing, attorney Robert Huntley argued that the districts he represents stand to lose $3 million per year in state funding if the other lawsuit succeeds.

"The parties who seek to intervene are comparable to the plaintiffs," Schroder said. "However, they apparently believe that action favorable to the plaintiffs' claims may be adverse to their interests.

"It appears that if the plaintiffs have a right to proceed in this case, the parties who seek to intervene have a right to be heard," the judge said.

A group of 19 school districts, describing themselves as "property poor" districts, are challenging the formula used to dole out school money.

A second lawsuit was filed by Huntley's group, which also includes four students and their parents and six other taxpayers. It simply contends that the state isn't putting enough money into public school support to meet the constitutional requirement of an equal and proper education in the school system.

The lawsuits are separate now, but could become one. There's a motion to consolidate. Deputy Attorney General William von Tagen said the state does not oppose the motion.