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“Lawmakers Didn’t Spend A Penny On Public Education,” Crowley ISD Latest To Suffer Deficits

Crowley ISD has joined the ranks of Texas school districts facing significant budget cuts, following in the footsteps of Keller ISD by calling out the Texas Legislature for these reductions.

Despite having a historic budget surplus, and 246 days in session — the longest legislative session in history — lawmakers only passed 10% of education bills, thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott’s obsession with vouchers.

The projected deficit for Crowley ISD for the upcoming school year ranges from $1 million to $16 million, with a likely scenario pointing to a $7.5 million shortfall.

According to the Fort Worth Report, Superintendent Michael McFarland labels the situation as “VUCA” – an acronym encompassing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

During the Legislature the state had a $32.7 billion surplus and didn’t pass multiple education funding bills. McFarland attributes the deficit to this legislative inaction, exacerbated by rising costs and an outdated funding model based on student attendance rather than enrollment.

“If you want to know what a state values, look at its budget. If you look at our state budget, you see no increase [to schools],” McFarland said. “Lawmakers didn’t spend a penny on public education.”

Since 2019, the Texas Legislature hasn’t changed its per-pupil spending. But everything else, fuel, electricity, supplies, and materials have gone up 17% or more in the last five years, according to the Consumer Price Index.

In 2019, educating one student cost Crowley ISD nearly $9,000. In 2023, that rose to $10,625, and the district received $9,972 of revenue per student. According to McFarland, since 2019, Crowly has seen growth of 1,001 students, putting the district in financial strain. 

To tackle the ISD’s pain points, McFarland said protecting classroom resources remains a priority, assuring the safety of classroom teachers while halting non-essential spending and ceasing hiring for vacant positions. Additionally, plans include reducing stipends, central office reorganization, and the possibility of transitioning to a shared-campus model for instructional coaches.

In the current climate, a consensus emerges among superintendents as they universally acknowledge the pressing need for increased funding.

Keller ISD Superintendent Tracy Johnson told Community Impact that with the unprecedented surplus the state could still fix the school financing problem with a fifth special legislative session.

“Our state doesn’t care about our kids,” Johnson said. “The cavalry isn’t coming. Keller ISD has to fix our problem. If we don’t get this fixed right now this year, we run the risk of not having a Keller ISD.”

Other Independent School Districts that are facing a deficit include:

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.

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