As if wrestling their budgets wasn't difficult enough, Texas school districts including Lubbock ISD, Frenship and Lubbock Cooper have a long legal road ahead to force a change in how state funding is distributed.
Around 600 school districts are plaintiffs challenging the state's school finance system. They say it's broken and completely unfair.
Lubbock-Cooper Superintendent Pat Henderson said, "What a penny raises in Lubbock-Cooper is not the same it raises in Frisco, or in a Sundown, Tahoka." "It is different."
Lubbock State Representative Charles Perry said, "That's currently the system we have. "Kids from around that state depending where they are at in a district will have huge disparity from $100 -up to-$1,000, or $2,000 disparity, that needs to be dealt with."
On top of that state lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from public schools last year, and imposed tougher standardized tests.
Frenship Superintendent David Vroonland said, "You don't usually increase your expectation and performance and decrease your funding at the same time."
However, lawyers with the state think otherwise. They argue there is no direct connection between increased spending and the development of college-and-career-ready students. Lubbock State Representative Charles Perry agrees.
"That correlation that districts that receive more per child then districts that receive less per child doesn't seem to measure up when you look at the facts," he said. "There are poor districts that are producing very high achieving students."
Lubbock ISD Superintendent Karen Garza said, "I will tell you just a couple of standpoints where money makes a difference," she said. "Number one when we have very high stakes and high standards for graduation having adequate resources available to students needs, it makes a difference."
"What you do with your money, how are you spending your money, are you putting it into smaller class sizes?" Henderson said. "Like I said, quality teaching is the main determinant." It's not class size, it's not having brand new buildings. It is quality teachers well to attract and attain quality teachers you have to have a competitive salary."
The trial is expected to last into January about the time the legislative session reconvenes. The verdict could influence legislators to tackle the funding formula during the biennium.