School districts around the state are crying poverty — and hiking your taxes. But just like the studies showing how many welfare recipients own DVD players, cell phones and late-model cars, we would be wise as taxpayers to start demanding a little cleaner view of how school districts are spending the money they already get.

Kerrville ISD’s school board just passed a tax hike that’ll increase property taxes on average $224 per homeowner. Why?

The school superintendent Dan Troxell said, “If we want to give pay raises and afford rising costs in transportation and daily operating, we have to raise taxes.”

Because, of course, the school district is so frugal already…

Kerrville ISD’s June ’08 check register shows they are spending taxpayer dollars buying flowers, expensive stays at the Omni, Doubletree and Courtyard hotels, a few thousand bucks for Blue Bell ice cream… The list goes on.

Carroll ISD, outside Fort Worth, is increasing their spending by a whopping 9 percent – and yet have the temerity to tell folks they are facing a “shortfall.” This is a school district where nearly half of the employees are not teachers. But at least there they are looking to use fund balances (savings) to cover the increased cost… this year.

Apparently schools think they are immune to the pressures with which everyone else must deal. Just this last week it was reported that 53 percent of small businesses will either be letting an employee go or won’t be making planned hires, all because of the state’s new business tax. Which, incidentally, is used to send more money to the school districts.

The same people losing their jobs or not finding work because of the insatiable appetite of public education bureaucrats are now facing higher tax bills. If school districts want to offer pay raises, they should start cutting in other places. If gasoline costs are too high for them, they should explore greater efficiencies.

Just like every small business and family around the state is doing right now.

But don’t hold your breath. School district bureaucrats are happily snaking on brand-name ice cream, surrounded by fresh-cut flowers, while raising your taxes. All in the name of educating your kids.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."