Name of Professional: Dr. Jeremy Lyon
Business/Company name: Frisco Independent School District
To further my research regarding the effects of the current education finance system, I recently interviewed the superintendent of my school district. Going into the interview, I understood the objective facts surrounding Robin Hood legislation and how it affected property-rich suburban districts. However, I was able to use this interview to learn about a more subjective perspective regarding the current financial system. Additionally, I used this interview to further learn the possible aspects of public education finance that could be changed to improve the system.
One topic we discussed in depth was the Cost of Education Index (CEI), which determines the amount of state money a district receives. However, the CEI formulas were used in the 1990s, and have not been updated. Dr. Lyon explained to me that this significantly hurts Frisco and other districts that have experienced notable change in demographic and/or city type. Given that in the ‘90s, Frisco was a rural farm town, it does not receive CEI funding for an expanding suburban district. The state legislature’s resistance to update CEI values has prevented many school districts from being able to successfully fund their schools. As I thought about how the rural CEI value for Frisco actually affects my life as a student, I found the clear consequences. With the recent failed TRE in Frisco, I realized that the un-updated CEI forces districts to depend upon tax increases, that may not have public support. When I later synthesized these facts and conclusions with my previous research for my final product, I came to believe that updating the CEI values statewide would most likely be a tremendous step forward in improving the state’s public education finance system.
Additionally, I asked Dr. Lyon about the state legislature’s debates regarding educational savings accounts (commonly known as vouchers). In this conversation, we discussed how ESAs would impact public schools. One of the main points that Dr. Lyon illustrated involved vouchers being used to transfer to a different public school. I had not researched nor considered viewpoint; however, it contributed a major concern to my future research and work. He explained how if a public school with the maximum capacity of students is presented with a voucher student, then the district is presented with troubling questions. Can the school turn down a student with a voucher? If not, how will they find the money to accommodate the school in enrolling an excesses of students? While at the current moment, it seems as if the Texas House of Representatives will not pass ESA legislation, these questions are still unsettling. From this conversation, I was introduced to some of the lesser-known concerns associated with different education finance solutions. This allowed me to broaden the scope of my information for my final product, as I now have another perspective to consider against the public education finance systems and solutions in question.
My research interview with Dr. Lyon allowed me to explore the problems of the current system and the proposals going through the state legislature regarding education finance. Leaving this interview, I felt like I had more insight to help me develop my case study for my final product. By talking with Dr. Lyon about what changes could be made to better finance school districts, I believe I have a better understanding of different possible systems for public education finance.
Date of Interview: March 1, 2017