One cannot pick up a newspaper without reading shrill complaints from school districts and editorial boards, fretting about their inability to “raise (taxes) and spend locally.” They claim schools are hampered by state law. Nothing could be further from the truth: school districts are welcome to raise taxes and hike spending all they want — they’re just finding a tighter threshold for going to the taxpayers for permission first. And that, of course, really galls the tax-and-spenders.
The Austin American Statesman is reporting this week that two school districts in that paper’s diminishing circulation area are struggling to make ends meet. Never mentioned in the article is the outrageous spending that both districts have engaged in over the last decade.
For example, San Marcos ISD now employees more non-teachers than teachers, while their per-pupil operations spending has increased by half-again over the last decade.
It’s a story repeated across the state. School districts, benefiting from outrageous property appraisal increases, increased their spending by 50% or more. Now brakes are being applied and districts are being told to live within their taxpayers’ means, one would think blood was being drawn. It’s never fun to be fiscally responsible, but taxpayers are demanding high accountability. After all, our wallets have been bled dry.