Last year, over 600 schools in Texas filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas. These schools claimed they were underfunded, but they somehow found millions of dollars to hire lawyers and file suit against the State of Texas with the claim that the schools did not have enough money.
Yesterday, a Texas State Judge, John Dietz, ruled that the current Texas School Finance Plan is unconstitutional. This ruling is not surprising because this Judge has previously ruled against Texas School Funding Plans in 2005, and the schools bringing the current lawsuit picked his court to file the lawsuit in. This ruling will be appealed to the Texas State Supreme Court where it will likely be thrown out.
These schools claim that the State cut their funding by over 5 billion dollars. In reality, the funding for schools was not cut last year, it INCREASED. The overall amount of money that the State gave Texas schools last session actually increased from the previous session. The 5 billion dollar figure represents the increase in funding that the schools wanted last session. When Texas rejected to fund the increase, the schools said school funding was cut. In fact, school funding was not CUT, it was just not increased as much as desired. Texas is funding education at a much higher level than other states. Education costs are 40% of the budget in Texas while the average education costs of the other States is only about 30%.
The biggest problem with school finance is not that the State is cutting funds, but that the school districts are not properly using the funds they are getting.
Texas Schools have SPENDING Problem, NOT Revenue Problem
According to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs and Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas School Spending increased up to 5 times faster than enrollment.
So if School Spending has grown astronomically, then why are schools saying they do not have any money? The answer is simple.
Texas Schools are Blowing their State Money on Non-Educational Waste
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott rightly argues that the system is adequately funded and that school districts don't always spend their money wisely.
Not spending money wisely is an understatement.
Think about this, half of all Texas School Staff are not even teachers!
Beaumont ISD is a perfect example of extreme waste spending by a Texas School District. The former superintendent in this city of a little over 100,000 residents was making $360,000 per year BASE salary. That made him the highest paid superintendent in the State of Texas even though the school district is a small district compared to the much larger districts in Texas. It does not stop there. BISD just built a massive football stadium with school money. But hey, teachers are not as important as football right? BIS also tried to build a HOTEL with tax dollars. Really? A hotel? The State Legislature actually had to pass a law to block the school from wasting school money on building a hotel. Oh, and how about BISD paying to send teachers to a different state for a racially charged black educators conference. Even worse, when BISD was building a school, the district overpaid for a truck rental by half a million dollars. The school was paying $90,000 to rent a truck that normally only costs $7000 a month to rent.
Beaumont is not the only place where waste spending happens. It happens in most school districts. According to Texas Watchdog, Austin ISD recently fired teachers because they said the money was not there, but then the school district turned around and increased the number of school administrators making over $100,000 by 63%
Those examples above are just a few examples of how Texas Schools are wasting school tax dollars.
Clearly, the problem with Texas funding is NOT budget cuts from the State. The problem is that Texas Schools are wasting the school money they get on non-educational things, and when times got tough, they fired teachers instead of cutting non-educational pet projects or firing non-educators.