“In Texas, schools are funded in what is called a hold-harmless target-revenue system,” she explained. “Currently target revenue varies from $3,624 per student in Star ISD [in northern Central Texas], to $12,116 per student in Westbrook ISD in West Texas. Mineral Wells ISD currently receives $4,726 per student. That’s a $7,390-per-student variance in funding between school districts. If schools average 20 students per classroom, that would be a $147,800 variance per classroom. This inequity needs to be addressed in this legislative session.”
In addition to cuts many school districts had to make to adjust to the target-revenue system, in 2011 the 82nd Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public school funding, which meant districts like MWISD had to cut $650,000 from their general fund and technology fund. The district made these cuts mostly through attrition, instead of a reduction in personnel, and through other cost-saving measures. Since the 2006 Legislature passed House Bill 1 – authorizing the hold-harmless target-revenue system – MWISD has seen well over $2 million in lost revenue, according to CFO Paul Hearn.
“The adequacy issues will hopefully also be addressed,” Haterius said of the 83rd Legislature. “Since 2007-08 Mineral Wells ISD has cut $1.96 million and 83 positions from the budget. This has led to increased class size, less professional development for our teachers, less resources and a general tightening of all budgets.”
Mandates authorized by the Texas Legislature, like the four-by-four curriculum requirements – requiring high schools to offer four years of English-Language arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies – combined with increased testing and accountability and more extensive high school graduation requirements edge toward taking local control away from public school districts and elected officials and affect the entire community, Haterius said.
“At Mineral Wells we work hard to be efficient with all fiscal matters, but you reach a point that what you are required to do and the funding provided just don’t match,”said Haterius. “We’d ask everyone to pay attention to the legislature this session and contact your congressmen to let them know what our community needs.