Conroe ISD adopts half a billion budget, just barely lagging behind County government spending growth

Conroe, September 5 – The Conroe Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the 2018-2019 Official School Budget at their August 21 meeting. In addition to providing funding to support all campuses including the opening of Grand Oaks High School and Clark Intermediate, the 18-19 budget features a raise for all employees and salary adjustments for identified areas. While employees in the private sector must struggle to make ends meet, government authorities are voting themselves raises by fiat.

Of the $495,000,000 budget, 89.2% of the funds are for payroll for the District’s 7,900 employees. The remainder of the budget is largely allocated for utilities for Conroe ISD’s 63 campuses and fuel for the nearly 400 bus routes driven daily.

Conroe ISD’s budget grew 4.65% in spending, a ridiculous high spending increase. The Montgomery County government’s spending outpaced Conroe ISD’s spending growth, however, with a whopping 4.83% spending increase for Fiscal Year 2019. Clearly, neither Conroe ISD nor the Montgomery County government have yet found a private-citizen-earned dollar they don’t want to spend.

18-19 Budget Infographic-01
Graphic which the Conroe ISD provided to argue in favor of its massive budget.

Conroe ISD CFO Darrin Rice presented the budget in detail in a hearing just prior to the Board Meeting.

Conroe ISD’s Spending Explosion Factor is an unacceptable 2.35 and represents the ratio of spending growth divided by 5-year student enrollment increase. In other words, Conroe ISD’s spending has grown more than 2.35 times the rate of growth of the school district’s student enrollment.

In order to provide a full statistical evaluation, The Golden Hammer compared the growth of spending over the five year period – from 2013 to 2018 – with the growth of student enrollment for each school district. The ratio between spending growth and student enrollment growth is the “Spending Explosion Factor.”

Spending Explosion Factor = 5-year spending growth increase divided by 5-year student enrollment increase.

If there were economies of scale, as microeconomic theory suggests, then the Spending Explosion Factor should be a positive number between 0 and 1. In other words, as student enrollment grows, overall spending in each school district should grow but in an amount less than the student enrollment increase, to reflect administrative efficiency.

Since the citizens have failed to oversee the Board of Trustees of each school district – and the Boards of Trustees clearly have slept through their oversight jobs entirely – it’s not surprising that all six school districts have Spending Explosion Factors above 1, meaning that bureaucratic spending is greatly exceeding the rate of growth of student enrollment.

The full data follows from the TEA in a chart this newspaper prepared.

The above chart reveals that Splendora ISD has been least efficient in managing its financial growth during the five-year period, while the New Caney ISD has been the most efficient among the six school districts in Montgomery County in managing spending in relation to student enrollment growth.

Any school district with a Spending Explosion Factor of 2 or higher clearly is doing a very poor job managing hard-earned tax dollars that the district confiscates from working families in the form of taxes.

New Caney ISD has a strong reputation for the education it offers students as well. The numbers help to explain part of that.

Specifically, this newspaper looked at the total dollars each school district spent per student. That number is somewhat misleading, because many school districts, such as the Conroe ISD, have placed far greater emphasis on financial support of growth of their administration than they have on the growth of educational investment.

Here’s the data on each of the school districts showing total dollars spent per student and, more importantly, total dollars spent on instruction per student. The TEA provided both numbers, so readers shouldn’t be wary that this data reflects the anti-spending bias of The Golden Hammer.

Conroe ISD spent the second most on instruction per student of the six public school districts in Montgomery County in 2018, according to the Texas Education Agency.



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