In the current state budget, the RISD received $14.2 million less for this year's operating budget due to state cutbacks in education funding. Next year, RISD's operating budget will take a further $7.5 million hit. This is despite rising enrollments. Schools are adding students but the legislature isn't supplying the resources needed to educate them.
After the jump, what the RISD is doing about it. And how the city council members are making the schools' case more difficult.
Monday, the RISD school board voted unanimously to join school finance litigation against the State of Texas. School districts across the state are challenging state financing for education on either equity grounds or adequacy grounds. How much the state provides for education varies unfairly from district to district across the state. Also, the state finance system prevents local school districts from adequately meeting a state constitutional mandate to provide for an efficient system of public free schools.
But the "State of Texas" is an impersonal target to blame for the mess our school financing is in. Let's put a face on who is responsible. The state legislature is responsible for the state's school finance system and, for Richardson, especially with the recent legislative redistricting, the legislator responsible is Stefani Carter.
Coincidentally, this week Stefani Carter issued a press release bragging about securing more than 1,000 endorsements in her re-election campaign, including five members of the Richardson City Council. Maybe I just missed it, but I saw no evidence that any of the 1,000 endorsements came from the RISD school board or administrators, or any other school boards, for that matter. Maybe their reluctance to back Carter is because of what Carter was focused on during the last legislative session when funding for schools was being slashed. Go back and review Carter's priorities and you'll find schools weren't among them: "Carter Fiddles While Texas Burns."
Now, Carter is telling us she listens:
People want to know they are being heard, which is why we have made direct contact with more than 23,000 voters since September. By reaching out to voters throughout the new district and letting them know we share the same conservative values and vision for House District 102, we are able to earn their confidence and support.Source: Stefani Carter.
Maybe five members of the Richardson City Council are being heard, but if so, I'd like to know what they are telling Carter. Instead they should be withholding their endorsements until she hears that a strong, thriving community is built on strong, thriving schools. The RISD's lawsuit against the state is evidence that Carter is not hearing that message. The needs of local schools are not being heard. It's not just the school children who will pay the price. The entire Richardson community will suffer as well.