Texas school funding is $2,550 per student less than national average
The Texas school finance system is both inadequate and inequitable. Funding in Texas is $2,550 per student below the national average each year. An additional $2,550 per student would equate to over an additional $4.7 million per year for our district based on our current enrollment of 1,856 students. Texas is ranked #47 out of the 50 states in per student funding.
One of the major misconceptions regarding school finance is that increases in local property values provide additional funding to school districts. Higher local property values will increase the amount of local taxes collected by the school district. However, that additional revenue is negated because as the amount of local taxes collected increases, the amount of state funding the district receives is reduced.
School districts receive funding based on their Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). The school finance system is inequitable because each district receives a different amount of funding per WADA (and thus, a different amount of funding per student). Below is a comparison of per WADA funding for 25 school districts in our area. These 25 districts were selected based on the following two criteria: all of the school districts in Bell County (regardless of size) and all of the school districts in our University Interscholastic League (UIL) districts for academics, athletics, and fine arts:
Copperas Cove $7,547
STATE AVERAGE $7,419
Liberty Hill $7,089
Rosebud Lott $6,476
Our school district receives the lowest per WADA funding out of all 25 districts. Thus, our school district receives significantly less funding each year for each of our students than if the same student attended any of the other 24 school districts. The Texas Legislature has the authority and responsibility for these school finance formulas. There was a bill (House Bill 21) during the legislative sessions earlier this year that would have provided all school districts (including Salado) with additional funding. The Texas House passed House Bill 21 during both the regular legislative session and the special legislative session. However, the Texas Senate amended the bill both times so that most school districts (including Salado) will not receive any additional funding these next two years.
The awards our students and school district receive year in and year out are evidence of the great job we are doing educating our students in spite of our very limited school funding. If we were able to receive additional funding, we would be able to offer more curricular and extracurricular programs to our students, maintain lower class sizes, increase teacher salaries, and improve the condition of our facilities and school bus fleet. I hope when the Texas Legislature meets again in January 2019 that they will revise the school finance formulas so our funding system is more adequate and equitable.