Over the last three years, our state has seen double-digit inflation, placing a tremendous amount of pressure on public schools to fund teacher and staff salaries, health insurance, energy costs, and more. Until these challenges are addressed, many school districts will struggle to offer competitive wages and fill teacher vacancies. That is why the Texas legislature should expand public school funding this session by creating an inflationary adjustment to the basic allotment. While the 2019 school funding overhaul provided important updates to meet student needs, the core component of student funding – the basic allotment – has remained stagnant and fails to keep up with inflation. When it comes to state spending on education, Texas trails the national average by over $4,000 per student, earning our state an F-rating and ranking 42nd in the nation in per-student spending. The impact of underfunding our public schools is long-lasting. By doing so, Texas limits the ability to develop a well-rounded citizenry and an effective workforce.
As costs continue to rise, school districts are being forced to raise taxes or cut important programs in order to stay ahead of fiscal cliffs. An automatic annual adjustment would allow the basic allotment to reflect the fluctuating costs of public education and reduce recapture. The added funding provided by an automatic adjustment would also allow the state to continue operating important initiatives like the statewide accelerated instruction program, which is solely dependent on federal stimulus dollars at the moment. Texas has the opportunity to build the future of our state, starting with a greater investment in our public school students.