Last week we pointed out how despite massive increases in public education funding over the last decade, academic results have remained flat. Joining in the chorus of voices questioning extravagant school spending is the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Their editorial board today stated that despite cries of fiscal starvation from schools, “they still look fat and happy.”
According to data available from the Texas Education Agency, total school spending rose 113% from 1998 to 2008, while SAT scores remained flat. Spending per-pupil rose from $5,597 to $9,998. (See the original article.)
In their editorial, “Texas schools act poor but spend freely,” the Star Telegram notes schools districts are “sitting on tens of millions of dollars in savings.”
The editorial notes such decision as school administrators hiking pay for everyone, despite the Legislature only requiring a pay raise for teachers. They write, schools:
cited need to give pay raises to support staff members because they are “a part of the team” at each school, and it would cause morale problems if teachers got state-mandated raises and other people got nothing extra.
The Texas Workforce Commission reported that 7,800 people in Fort Worth-Arlington lost their jobs in July. It’s hard to believe that many school support staff members would be so unhappy as to leave if they didn’t get a raise or that if they did there wouldn’t be many more people anxious to fill their spot on the team.
But districts still handed out raises as if they had money to burn.
It’s easy to burn through other people’s money. Especially easy since school districts have fought tooth and nail against posting their expenditures and check registers online in real-time. Absent meaningful fiscal transparency and accountability for per-dollar results, school districts will continue to spend frivolously.