The architect of the system Missouri uses to fund public education has gone to court to defend the creation of the system.
St. Joseph Senator Charlie Shields spent his day on the witness stand walking lawyers through the creation of the 2005 school foundation formula. He says it gets away from the old formula that was based on local tax support and provides funds based on the costs of educating students.
Some districts get more if they have a lot of poor children, more with special education needs, or children to whom English is not a first language because it costs more to educate them.
Earlier in the trial, two expert witnesses had testified the state also should spend more to educate black students. Shields says race should not be a factor in providing additional funding for school districts. He calls the idea "absurd" and says he hopes the state, "would never, ever do that."
Shields says the goal was to create a new formula that was equitable and based on student needs. But he also said in the courtroom the legislature leapfrogged the equity issue and went straight to the student funding issue. School districts behind the lawsuit say lack of equity is one of the reasons they’re challenging the formula. They also say it is inadequately funded.
About half of the state’s school districts are behind the suit. The trial has been going on since January 3rd. The judge wants it wrapped up within two weeks.