Even people who follow public education are often unaware of how the General Land Office and the Texas Land Commissioner and the State Board of Education can impact public school finance.

And that is, in part, because up until this year, things between the two entities and the services and funding they make available to school districts were pretty copacetic. But now current Land Commissioner George P. Bush wants to make a change, and it’s put him at odds with pretty much every single member of the State Board of Education.

You see, the School Land Board — a three-person board lead by Bush — oversees the largest educational endowment in the country. The board has decided it will bypass the State Board of Education’s Permanent School fund and put $600 million directly into another fund that goes directly to schools. The SLB will also invest an additional $55 million.

This change could impact how much Texas schools can spend on textbooks, among other things.

The education board also uses the $41.4 billion PSF to back construction bonds so that school districts and charter schools can earn lower interest rates. (more…)

Dallas isd

Historic and projected state contribution to public education (courtesy Center for Public Policy Priorities)

As Dallas ISD advocates begin ramping up the campaign to pass a 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (or TRE) in November, news that will likely irritate more property owners came down the pike during a state budget hearing: The state will contribute less toward public education in the next two years.

In yesterday’s budget panel meeting, Texas Education Agency commissioner Mike Morath confirmed that his agency’s budget request for the Foundation School Program for the next two years asks for $3.5 billion less in general revenue for schools, and will instead shift more of the burden to local property taxes. (more…)