Last year the Texas Legislature established the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to develop and make recommendations for improvements to the current public school finance system or for new methods of financing public schools. Later this year the commission will prepare and deliver a report to the governor and the legislature that recommends statutory changes to improve the public school finance system.
For those wishing to provide input to the commission for its next meeting on March 19, you can send a message to their firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address.
Quoted below is from the message that I recently sent to them:
“Please develop a school finance plan that is:
1. Equitable – school funding in Texas is very inequitable between school districts. If a student moves from one school district to another school district, that student should be “worth” the same amount of funding. Please consider the plan developed by the Equity Center.
2. Adequate – funding per student in Texas is one of the lowest in the nation and is far below the national average. Please consider increasing the amount of funding per student to the national average.”
I encourage all of you to send an e-mail to the commission with your feedback regarding school funding. Below are some additional facts regarding Texas school finance that might help you formulate your own suggestions to share with the commission regarding this topic.
The Texas Legislature reduced public education funding by $2.68 billion for this school year and next school year from levels in the prior two years. The Legislature is relying on increases in local property taxes to make up this gap.
Last year the Texas House passed bills in both the regular session and the special session that would have increased state funding for public schools. However, both times the Texas Senate amended the bills to significantly reduce that additional funding.
During the last 10 years, the Texas Legislature has reduced the state’s contribution of fund public schools from 50 percent to 37 percent, while the local tax payer share has increased from 50 percent to 63 percent.
School districts receive funding based on their Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). However, 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
Our school district receives the lowest per WADA funding out of all 25 districts. Thus, if a student moves from our school district to any of those other 24 districts, their new district will receive more funding for that same student than our district received. Additional funding would allow us 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 encourage you to send an e-mail to email@example.com with your suggestions regarding school funding in Texas.