Dr. Rapp discusses state funding for Texas public schools
The below was written by Superintendent Dr. Lori Rapp to our local representatives ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
Now that the November election has concluded, lawmakers must consider the plans for the state’s $27 billion surplus going into the legislative session. Investing a portion of the surplus in our public schools will be a long term investment for a strong future in Texas. A continuous robust Texas economy is dependent on a highly skilled workforce.
It is my great honor to serve as the Superintendent of the Lewisville Independent School District. Our district covers 127 square miles in Denton and Tarrant counties and is home to nearly 50,000 students from 35,000 families. LISD is the largest employer within its footprint with more than 6,500 employees. We are proud to graduate more than 4,000 seniors each year that represent the future of our communities and state.
We are ready to work alongside our elected officials in the 88th Legislative Session to keep our public schools strong. We must address the major challenges facing our schools in order to continue providing the award-winning programs that produce graduates ready to keep the Texas economy strong. As we enter into the session in January with an approximate $27 billion surplus at the state level, here are some things you must consider:
Help us address increasing costs to meet our students’ needs. Record high inflation has driven costs up by 12.5 percent since House Bill 3 was passed in 2019. We are paying more for insurance, gas, utilities and most importantly, compensation costs to support a teacher work-force that is able to prepare students for the future. The current formula is not able to adjust to ever changing instructional needs or to inflationary cost drivers. An automatic annual adjustment to the basic allotment in the school funding formula will help to keep up with rising costs year over year.
Control the cost of recapture. Lewisville ISD estimates that it will pay $54 million in recapture back to the state this school year. At the state level, the annual cost of recapture to taxpayers is higher than ever - exceeding $3 billion for fiscal year 2022. Please consider ways to reduce this burden on school districts and taxpayers. State legislators should reinvest unexpected high recapture costs back into public education.
Increase school safety funding. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff. This year, LISD allotted an additional $3 million to expand its safety and security team. We put additional School Resource Officers throughout the district’s entire 127- square mile footprint. The current allocation of less than $10/student is inadequate to meet the school safety needs of our district.
Keep public school dollars in public schools. The diversion of tax dollars to vouchers, tax credits, taxpayer savings grants or tuition reimbursement with zero accountability to the state, taxpayers or local communities not only hurts LISD, it could harm student achievement across the state.
The decisions made in this legislative session are critical for our state and local communities. Texas public schools are the lifeblood of our local communities. Our schools make our communities strong and vibrant. A strong Texas is dependent on an exceptional workforce. Funding Texas schools today is an investment in a better Texas for tomorrow.