Fiesta Time in Denton? - Texas Scorecard

Bureaucrats at Denton ISD would have you believe that the district never had any budget issues, had superior instructional spending rates, and never even considered joining one of the state finance lawsuits, given the district just approved a new Mariachi program for middle and high-school students. But don’t strike up the band just yet.

While a Mariachi program might have a strong cultural value, should Denton ISD really be putting taxpayer money into it?

Denton’s new program is expected to cost $200 per student, with the goal of enrolling a total of 60 students across the district. That’s comes out to $12,000 per year – money that surely could have been used to improve the district’s embarrassing instructional spending rate. A messily 37.5% of total funding makes it’s way into the classroom, and auxiliary programs like Mariachi aren’t helping that figure.

This low level of classroom instruction has plagued the district for several years now. In fact, the school district hasn’t put more than 50% of funding inside the classroom since 2003. And the district’s average SAT scores seem to reflect that:

Year

Average SAT Score

Instructional Spending Rate

2000

1046

53.2%

2001

1026

47.2%

2002

1023

48.1%

2003

1036

56.6%

2004

1031

49.0%

2005

1020

31.8%

2006

1020

32.9%

2007

1011

36.0%

2008

1013

40.5%

2009

1028

39.5%

2010

1012

37.6%

 

Those low instructional spending rates seemed to have finally caught up with the district too.

The district had to lay off 80 employees last April in order to shore up its budget, and school board members strongly considered joining one of the school finance lawsuits. (Side note: The cost of joining one of the lawsuits is $1 per weighted average daily attendance unit, or approximately $30,000 of taxpayer money in order to sue the state for more taxpayer money.)

Denton ISD School Board President Mia Price said about joining the lawsuits:

“We have no choice. This is the only way we can get some type of solution to the funding finance situation we’re facing.” 

That should be pretty insulting to taxpayers, given the district has averaged a 36% instructional spending rate since 2005.

While Denton ISD’s case of fiscal imprudence isn’t quite as bad as Brownwood, San Antonio, or Allen ISD, it’s still disappointing to see yet another school district hoodwink taxpayers into thinking more funding is the only way to keep our children educated, while simultaneously pushing for auxiliary programs and projects like a new scoreboard, professional soccer field, or bus barn.

That kind of waste is nothing to celebrate.