Star witness testifies in Texas school finance trial


by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE and Associted Press

Bio | Email | Follow: @JadeM_KVUE

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 29 at 5:40 PM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- The star witness testified Monday in the trial over state education funding.

In the case being heard at the Travis County Justice Complex, school districts across the state including Austin ISD are suing. They say the current school finance system in Texas is unfair, inadequate and unconstitutional.

Leading expert on school finance, Lynn Moak, took the stand Monday. Since 1984, Moak has been a major player in every similar trial in the state.

"Our entire economy is at risk if we don't address this issue of how to raise the educational success rate of the educationally disadvantaged," said Moak.

Moak said Texas schools have faced several challenges since the last school fiance trial in 2004. Changes include a property tax reduction, state mandated teacher raises, more stringent state testing, and $5.4 billion in education cuts.

Moak said schools aren't adequately financed to keep up with rising student growth and end of course STAAR tests. Moak said nearly half of all ninth grade students in Texas last year failed at least one of the STAAR tests.

"We've never had an entire high school population declared to be at risk before, but that's where we find ourselves today," said Moak.

State attorneys say the current school finance system is fair and constitutional.

Moak is expected to continue his testimony Tuesday. The trial could last until January.

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