Here are some notable facts about school finance and the growing Texas student population.
-The Center for Public Policy Priorities reminds us that Texas school districts are receiving an (inflation-adjusted) average of $611 less per pupil per year in combined state, local, and federal funding than they received as recently as 2008, before the Great Recession and the budget cuts that ensued in 2011. Note well: This deficit is what our schools have been left to cope with after the partial restoration of formula funding by the state legislature earlier this year.
-Joe Smith of texasisd.com reports that 92 percent of Texas school districts holding tax-ratification elections this year won local voter approval of higher local school property-tax rates. Higher local tax rates were ratified in 34 out of 37 districts holding these elections in 2013.
-Judge John Dietz, the state district judge presiding over the school-finance case that will be tried anew in Austin come January, recently pointed out some salient characteristics of our student population in a speech to a civic group. He noted that three out of five students in our public schools nowadays are economically disadvantaged, and nearly one out of five enters school speaking a foreign language, not English. Consequently, Judge Dietz said, Texas public schools are offering bilingual instruction and instruction in English as a second language to students who may speak any of 120 other languages.