One Texas-based, school support organization is preparing to sue the State of Texas over its policies and practices for funding K-12 public schools. That organization wants “fair funding for all Texas taxpayers and students.”
Right now, per student funding for our Texas schools is remarkable in the size of its range – from under $5,000 to over $10,000. For example, one Texas superintendent noted that in Northwest ISD a student he knows would be funded by the state at $6,830. If that same student moved to Keller ISD, he would be funded by the state at $5,309.
That is inequitable. That is unacceptable. It just isn’t fair.
One scenario to achieve equity is the addition method … take every district up to the highest level of spending per student – let’s use $10,000 as that amount.
Under this method, Northwest ISD would receive approximately $3,170 more per student. It has a little over 16,500. That would be an additional $52 million. Keller ISD would realize approximately $4,691 more per student. With its 33,000 students, it would receive an additional $155 million. [In this scenario, Midlothian ISD would gain approximately $28 million].
If the addition method is applied to all districts … equity!
Another way to achieve equity is the subtraction method.
The subtraction method could be done by taking everyone down to the level of the lowest funded school, let’s use $5,000 per student. Northwest ISD would lose $30 million and Keller ISD would lose $10 million. [Midlothian ISD, with the subtraction method, would lose almost $10 million].
If the subtraction method is applied to all districts … equity!
The addition method to achieve equity is too costly. The subtraction method is too draconian. If equity is ever a goal of the Texas Legislature, my opinion is that a combination of the addition and subtraction methods will be used. If that proves true, then my guess is that there will be a lot more subtraction than addition. The additional money needed for public education to achieve adequacy may be a long time coming. Consequently, equity would probably come at the cost of adequacy: Many districts, including MISD, would see funding dramatically decreased so that some districts would realize increased funding levels.
Yes, I want a fair system, but a fair funding system has both elements: equity and adequacy.
[Note: A move toward adequacy might begin with the Texas Legislature fulfilling a promise. In 2006, when the Legislature compressed property taxes, it promised to replace 100% of that revenue lost to public schools. It promised 100%, it planned for 60%, it produced 40%.]