Texas public schools educate more than 5 million students, with individual school district enrollments ranging from 13 students in Divide ISD to 211,552 students in Houston ISD.
Including HISD’s 25,000+ employees, the district runs a “business” affecting nearly a quarter of a million individuals directly, and hundreds of thousands more indirectly, as parents, taxpayers and employers – current and future – are impacted by the district’s academic quality and appropriate spending.
Whether managing a district with 13 or 13,000 students (the average Texas district enrolls less than 1,000), superintendents and school boards are charged with an amazing responsibility. Not only must they adhere to all Texas laws pertaining to public education (the Texas Education Code is 1,579 pages!), but they must also budget for and manage programs and extracurricular activities important to their local communities. While Divide ISD’s transportation needs may rise to the top of the list (the district covers 300+ square miles), Houston ISD invests in programs unique to urban school districts, like dropout recovery, programs for students with incarcerated parents, and night school for working students.
Despite the vast differences among the 1,036 Texas school districts and charter schools, all 5+ million students are held to the same accountability standards and assessment requirements, leaving very little room for discretionary spending by district officials.