Expert: Schools need additional $6 billion a year to meet higher standards

Testimony in school finance trial shows low-income students far behind on new tests.

Texas school districts need an additional $6 billion a year to get students up to the high academic standards lawmakers have put in place, a school finance expert testified on Monday during the ongoing trial.

“I don’t believe that we’re going to close educational gaps and reach … college and career (readiness) without spending additional money,” said Lynn Moak, a consultant who has testified at all six school finance trials in Texas.

Texas school districts spent a total of $43.1 billion for operating cost in 2010-11, the school year before the Legislature enacted $2.5 billion in education cuts. Moak estimated that in addition to restoring the cuts, schools would need an additional $6 billion to boost the performance of low-income students and English-language learners, in particular.

Editorial: Schools have strong funding case

The state’s latest school finance lawsuit is only into its first week of hearings, but this much already is clear: Poor and wealthy districts aren’t fighting each other. They are united in protesting that lawmakers aren’t adequately funding Texas schools. It is not often that you see rich and poor districts partnering in a school finance case.

Equally compelling is that suburban, urban and rural districts are making the same funding point. So are charter schools. In fact, most corners of Texas are saddling up together in this suit, in which the main contention is that legislators aren’t meeting their constitutional duty to provide resources for a decent education.

The plaintiffs have on their side the massive $5.4 billion cut that legislators took out of school budgets during the 2011 Legislature. Plus, the state has limited local districts’ ability to raise funds. In 2006, legislators put an arbitrary cap on the rate districts can charge property-tax payers without calling an election to go beyond the ceiling.

Day Two of the School Finance Trial

Former state demographer Dr. Steve Murdock was the first witness to testify in the trial.  Dr. Murdock spent three hours describing rapid population growth and changes taking place in Texas.  He noted that Texas ranks first out of all 50 states in school enrollment growth, but 43rd in total per pupil expenditures.  By the year […]

First day of school finance trial

The school finance trial is now officially underway. In his opening statement, Mark Trachtenberg repeated the words Judge Dietz stated at the end of the previous school finance trial: “Education costs money, but ignorance costs more money. Money invested in education benefits first the children of Texas, or in other words, our future.” Mark’s presentation […]

New Senate Committee Chairs

Today, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst announced the appointments of Senate Committee Chairs, including the appointment of Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education. The Lt. Governor’s press release stated that this appointment was “due to his strong interest in improving public education for children, instituting innovative change and providing […]

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