An unnecessary layer of school administration should be abolished to make more dollars available to the classroom says a Metroplex-area state senator.
State Sen. Don Huffines (D-Dallas) is pushing to close the Dallas County Schools district (DCS), in Dallas County. In addition to the fact DCS does not educate a single child, Huffines cites its high cost, poor performance, inefficiency, and the existence of better alternatives as reasons to shut it down.
In an op-ed recently published by in the Dallas Morning News, Huffines writes:
DCS has worked hard to attempt to justify its continued existence and has shown it cares more about ‘investing’ taxpayers’ dollars in failing businesses than completing its simple core function of getting kids to school. As a state senator, I am a watchdog for Texas taxpayers and a champion for Texas students and parents. Education is supposed to be about doing what is best for children, not continued employment of administrators. That’s why doing away with DCS is among my top priorities for the next legislative session.
Despite DCS levying a property tax countywide, less than two-thirds of the school districts in its jurisdiction currently use the agency for bus services. And while the agency is heavily subsidized through its own property tax, fees from ISDs for bus services, and state tax dollars, it still operates at a severe loss.
In other words, it’s extremely costly and inefficient.
The district is a remnant of a long-retired educational system back when counties administered schools, prior to the creation of “independent school districts.” As highlighted by Huffines, these county-level entities now exist purely as a “jobs program” for administrators and bureaucrats, all while providing costly and inefficient services to ISDs.
The bureaucracies are brazen in their pursuit of self-preservation. The Harris County Department of Education’s (HSDE) Superintendent recently negotiated to still get pay and benefits, even in the event his agency is shut down. He wants to remain a paid “servant” even if Texans no longer need his “service.”
But aside from this individual’s arrogance, these agencies simply aren’t needed anymore. Other districts have already found better solutions in the private sector, or with other government agencies.
“Not only is DCS using taxpayer dollars to attempt to operate money-making ventures, including charter bus services, but all the services it offers are duplicated by education service centers and private sector businesses that pay taxes. The public or private sector could readily absorb these services.”
Shockingly, one of the main reasons DCS is so costly is because it’s using tax dollars to compete with private companies in other areas, outside of its core mission. Huffines writes:
“According to credit ratings company Moody’s, DCS is using [tax dollars] to ‘support a non-essential bus safety-camera enterprise that has fallen short of officials’ revenue projections to date.’ [It] operates just like a proprietary business and is competing in Dallas County and across [Texas] with at least five private companies that provide the same technology.”
DCS will undoubtedly try to save themselves by guilt-tripping taxpayers with alarmist claims that their bus drivers will “lose their jobs.” But these drivers wouldn’t be permanently displaced; they could work for private companies or actual school districts.
Administrators at DCS and HCDE seemingly care about one thing—preserving their tax-funded gravy train. And you can count on them to make a lot of noise when legislators like Huffines work to do what’s right for real educators, children, and taxpayers by shutting down these vestiges of past bureaucracies.