TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A bill to help funding for public school educators is making its way through the Texas Legislature, but school officials said the bill in it’s current state just isn’t enough.
Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford was joined by representatives from Alba-Golden, Bullard, Carthage, Cushing, Brownsboro, Lindale, Longview, Mineola, Palestine, Pine Tree, Troup, Tyler, Union Grove and Whitehouse on Monday to call on the legislature to increase public school funding.
Sounding what they called a “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” alarm on May 1, the districts urged supporters to contact state lawmakers to support increased school funding. With a month left in the Texas legislative session, public education advocates are asking lawmakers to allocate more of the state’s $32.7 billion surplus to schools.
They spoke in support of House Bill 100, relating to the compensation of public school educators and to the operations of public schools, including enrollment-based funding.
“House Bill 100 right now is kind of floating around down there, it looks like that’s the vehicle that needs to happen to improve school funding,” said Dr. Marty Crawford, Tyler ISD Superintendent.
Crawford said that while they appreciate the money lawmakers set aside for public education this year, it simply isn’t enough to keep up with inflation.
“As everyone’s been living with here over the last three years, it doesn’t nearly address the inflation that we’re seeing here across our state and across our country,” Crawford said. “While it does put needed dollars back into public ed, right now, the proposal does not meet for the 14.5% inflation inside the basic allotment.”
The focus is on salary increases for teachers and enrollment-based funding. Union Grove Superintendent Kelly Moore says that helps, but they are forgetting about bus drivers, food service workers, and paraprofessionals.
“They are there for the children, every staff member is an educator and they deserve a pay increase as well,” said Kelly Moore, Union Grove Superintendent.
The school district representatives advocated for more pay for teachers and staff alike.
“The teacher shortage is in a crisis mode for the State of Texas. We must improve teacher pay, but also we must improve pay for all school employees.”Lindale ISD Superintendent Stan Surratt
Surratt also talked about the WADA, or Weighted Average Daily Attendance, which is the figure used in several state funding formulas to calculate the amount of state and local funds to which a district is entitled.
“I just say it’s embarrassing that the legislators to talk about a $90 increase in funding per WADA (Weighted Average Daily Attendance), where four years ago they did almost $1,000,” Surrat said.
Crawford said it costs money to transport and feed your children but with prices increasing, it’s hard to keep up without compensation.
“We’re asking for an increase to at least a $700 range into the basic allotment in the budget for school systems, possibly upwards of $900,” Crawford said.
He adds if state legislators would allocate more of their $32.7 billion surplus to public schools it would help.
“They got the funding, they just need to step up for all Texans, especially public schools,” said Surratt.
As updated property tax evaluations were sent out, Surratt talked about how those numbers impact the state.
“Everybody recently got their estimations on their tax bills from the county appraisal district, and if you notice that most counties are up about 25%,” Surratt said. “That does not improve the funding for local school districts. That is a windfall for the state, so we’re asking the legislatures to take that windfall and improve school funding.”
Pine Tree ISD Superintendent Steve Clugston explained how school funding works to illustrate the increased need of districts. He said that if the state doesn’t act soon, the problem will only get more expensive in the years to come.
“To put it simply, you get a cup of money for each kid, and that’s for each kid that shows up each day,” Clugston said. “If they don’t show up, we don’t get it. Basically, it’s filled partly with tax money, and then the state fills it to the top. As your values go up, we fill it up more with your tax dollars, the state gives us less money, so there’s no inflation factor in our business. As everything goes up, we have to figure out where we cut in order to do that.”
The event was held at Davidson Conference Center at 10:30 a.m. Similar events were planned in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, Midland-Odessa and San Antonio.
“According to the Texas Consumer Price Index, from June 2019 to February 2023, inflation in Texas increased by 17%,” according to a release from Tyler ISD. “In 2022, the Legislative Budget Board estimated that current school funding is at 2014 levels when adjusting for inflation. Schools have seen fixed costs such as utilities, insurance, and fuel rise dramatically in the past several years.”
By visiting this link and filling out a short form it will send a request to your state lawmakers to seek more funding for public education.