Facts and insights about Texas public schools
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Board Member Jim Rice Debunks ‘Inefficient Schools’ Myth

The midterm election has brought a string of candidates for state offices who support giving teachers a pay raise and also claim Texas school districts need to spend their tax dollars more efficiently.

“As a school board trustee, along with my colleagues, I must approve a balanced budget and a tax rate to support that budget each year. In order to form a considered opinion and cast an informed vote, I have had to learn the basics of public school finance,” wrote Fort Bend ISD Board Member Jim Rice.

Rice points out that Texas relies so heavily on local property taxes to fund public schools that districts can’t lower their tax rates. When property values rise, the state reduces its contribution by a corresponding amount. As a result, districts never get ahead when taxes go up. On top of that, Texas adds 80,000 new students each year.

“Not only are the majority of our public school districts efficient, they are struggling to make ends meet. If the Legislature wants to support our teachers, they will find a way to streamline and improve school funding. Until the current system is corrected, there can be no property tax relief, regardless of what some politicians might claim,” Rice writes.

Rice observes that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to support and maintain Texas public schools. “Just as we hold districts accountable for student achievement, we should also hold the State Legislature accountable for supporting a public school system that provides a quality education for all students as the state constitution requires,” Rice wrote.

Read “When will public schools become more efficient with tax dollars,” by Jim Rice, Fort Bend Star. Rice is also a member of the TASB Board.

November 1, 2018