Across Texas, districts are having to close under-capacity schools. As one could guess, this has created staff and community anger. I’m not going to say that the anger is wrong, but where it is present, it is almost always misguided. Let’s look at the situation logically. If a school is under-capacity, enrollment is declining, and there is room for the students at a nearby campus, closing the school is a rational decision. Why is this rational? Closing a small elementary campus can save between $400,000 and $1,000,000 a year in facility and support costs. So the decision to not close is actually detrimental to students, staff and the community. How, you ask? The saved money could be spent on instructional tools and training, which helps students. The saved money could be spent on staff compensation and benefits, which helps teachers. The saved money could pay off school debt, increase fund balance, or reduce taxes, which helps the community. Or you can fight to continue to spend money inefficiently. Now let’s look at the situation illogically. Logic be damned. You’re angry and someone needs to know about it. Ok, I can respect that. Let’s just make sure we channel that anger towards the right parties. Should you be mad at the Superintendent? No, the job of the Superintendent is to maximize district resources for the benefit of the greatest number of students. Consolidating schools solve the very real financial problems currently facing individual districts. Should you be mad at the School Board? No, the job of the school board is to balance the needs of the school system and the needs of the community. Consolidating schools solve the very real financial problems currently facing individual districts. Now I know you are thinking, “Sean, if not the Superintendent and the School Board, who should I direct my anger towards?” If you are in Texas, the answer is rather straightforward. Texas school districts are facing significant declines in funding, but this decline has nothing to do with the economy. The Texas economy is doing quite well. In Texas, the school funding crisis was created, either by design or incompetence. I’ll explain. Texas was doing a slightly less than adequate job of funding schools. Then Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and the Republican members of the State House decided to revise the tax code. The stated plan was to reduce personal property tax rates and increase business tax rates. However, instead of increasing the business tax rate first and then reducing the personal property tax rate, in a stoke of political genius or incompetence, they attempted the reverse. They reduced the personal property tax rate, reducing education funding by billions. Then they tried to increase business taxes, but surprisingly, that attempt was derailed. So you want to be angry, call the Governor, the Lt. Governor and your Republican State Senator and Representative. Let them know that your anger is based on emotion and sense of betrayal and you won’t forget when it comes time to write campaign donation checks and step into the voting booth. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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