After about a three-month trial, District Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of 600-plus school districts that the state's public school funding system is unconstitutional.
"I think it's a step in the right direction, it's progress. We kind of expected a ruling like this," Lubbock ISD Board President Steve Massengale said. "We anticipate that it will be appealed, obviously by the state. But I think it sends a strong message to our legislature, and I think it's important that they're in session now."
Legal analyst Curtis Parrish said the chances of the issue being addressed in this session are slim, but a special session is all but a sure thing.
"It is likely that this particular ruling today will not factor in to what the legislators are going to do budget-wise, that they will still wait to hear what the Texas Supreme Court has to say about the constitutionality of the school financing, before they make a final decision," Parrish said.
Massengale said equity is the biggest concern among property-poor districts.
"Lubbock ISD is funded in the lower 15 percent of all school districts in the state of Texas. And when you look at that, it's very difficult, especially in the environment of increased expectations that we live in, with the STAAR test and graduation requirements, to do that with decreased resources," Massengale said.
State Representative Charles Perry said legislators were looking for more direction, not only regarding equity, but efficiency and adequacy as well.
"I think we were hoping to see a ruling, regarding the efficiency side, that there is some merit to some of those arguments. That what we do spend in the state may be spent a little different or better," Perry said. "The adequacy issue is always going to be a contested issue because of the way the equity system works. And we recognize that the equity system is not where it needs to be, and we're looking for some direction there."
Perry said the ruling has given lawmakers some guidance, but nothing final can be put into the books until an appeal is decided by the Texas Supreme Court.