In Texas our local school boards don’t have a lot of financial flexibility when it comes to paying for our schools because of the laws passed by our state legislature.
School districts are allowed to set two property tax rates. One is for operations and maintenance and the other is for debt service. Both rates are capped if I am correct.
Substantially the remainder of the funds that a school district receives are from the state and feral governments. These are funds that have been taken from the public at large and are then doled out without local input.
Poorer school districts in Texas have maintained that the distribution formulas used in Texas are unfair.
Developing formulas that all parties agree are fair may not be possible.
What is possible however is to fix the way that we pay for our buildings.
Under our present system administrators and school boards are allowed (some say forced) to deliberately under-fund the physical maintenance of our buildings and use the money to pay for other expenses. When the buildings finally deteriorate to the point that maintenance can no longer be ignored the districts turn to bond issues (debt) to replace or refurbish the buildings.
Luckily for the officials and board members that ignored the maintenance costs they are long gone and cannot be held accountable.
Paying for maintenance as it is needed would be cheaper and would improve the educational experience for our children.
One solution to the problem is to deny the school districts the ability to incur debt by only allowing them to have a single tax rate–one for operations and maintenance.
Some will argue that this creates a problem for districts that are growing or that suffer damage from disasters. Leasing school buildings from developers would solve the first problem and insurance the second.
We need to find a way to stop the debt option and force us to pay our costs as we go.
We deserve better.