Legislators from both parties are beginning to highlight the extraordinary challenges school districts face due to a shortage of state investments in Texas classrooms.

School districts across Texas are considering staff reductions and other measures because state funding of public education has been stagnant over the past five years. Because inflation during that time has reached 20 percent, the buying power of districts’ dollars has declined.

Texas ranks in the bottom 10 in education spending by several measures, according to a newly release study from the Albert Shanker Institute, the University of Miami, and Rutgers University.

In 2023, the only funding increases for public schools that were supported by state leaders were tied to passage of a private-school voucher entitlement program that would have shifted hundreds of millions of dollars per year away from public schools. Other states have proven that similar voucher programs largely go to families who were already paying for private school. When a bipartisan coalition of House members blocked the voucher plan, state leaders ceased consideration of any additional funding for public schools.

“The Governor and the Legislature have not provided Texas school districts with the revenue needed to keep up with inflation and provide teachers with the pay raises that they deserve,” said HD Chambers, Executive Director of the Texas School Alliance, which represents 46 of the largest school districts in the state. “School districts across Texas are preparing to reduce staff and programs available to kids because the state has not put needed dollars into our classrooms. The challenges that school districts face due to a lack of state funding are real and severe, causing Texas parents and taxpayers to wonder why the state is not investing more of its surplus in our kids.”

On May 13, 39 Democrats in the Texas House released a letter asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to invest some of the state’s $18 billion surplus in public schools.

“Texas public schools are facing serious budget challenges from inflation, historic underfunding, and unfunded mandates that will drive drastic budget cuts in ISDs across the state,” the letter states. “These issues arise from the state’s failure to improve school funding since 2019.”

 In early May, a group of six Houston-area legislators led by GOP Rep. Tom Oliverson asked the Texas Education Agency to use its surplus funds to help address a budget shortfall in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. They argued that state law does not properly recognize the district’s local-option homestead exemption when calculating how much state aid it should receive.

“Cy-Fair ISD recently notified 50 librarians that their positions have been eliminated — the consequences of the shortfall are being felt already by our districts,” the letter says. “We appreciate your work on this issue and request that you utilize surplus funds available to your agency to help fill these gaps.”

Other districts are facing significant budget shortfalls as well:

“The Governor and the Legislature have chosen not to put meaningful new dollars into our public schools at a time of significant inflation,” Chambers said. “We urge our state leaders to focus first and foremost on investing much of our state budget surplus in public schools. That’s what Texans want and that’s what our kids deserve.” 

  • Spring Branch ISD has announced the elimination of 305 positions — largely cuts in the district’s central office, as well as personnel and program model changes.
  • Austin ISD is facing a budget deficit of $89 million, which has already led to the elimination of at least 41 positions in the district’s central office.
  • Frisco ISD is facing a $30.81 million shortfall.