Conroe, Magnolia, Montgomery, New Caney, Splendora, and Willis, August 20 – The school districts of Montgomery County have become a fiscal and management nightmare for taxpayers. They require immediate attention from the citizens.
The pro-spending mantra “it’s for the children” has become a slogan for bureaucracy and top-heavy management which has nothing to do with educational outcomes. In reality, the spending doesn’t even correlate to a financial investment in student instruction.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, began a journey into the finances of the six school districts in Montgomery County with an examination of the so-called “financial transparency” sections of their respective websites. Other than the Willis Independent School District, which has a clear and straightforward presentation of its spending, none of the school districts have transparent, or even comprehensible, budget presentations.
In attempting to compare the 2012-13 budgets with the 2017-18 budgets, this newspaper discovered substantial missing data from the districts as a group. For some reason, the Magnolia ISD, which just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the polls when it attempted a tax hike referendum on August 14, doesn’t even have its currentBudget online for the public to view.
In order to cut through the guff, The Golden Hammertook all of the budget data from the Texas Education Association (TEA) to which each district must accurately report under state law. The TEA website is actually quite informative and easy to comprehend.
All six of the school districts’ superintendents, Trustees, and administrators have attempted to justify high tax rates and the explosion of increased spending on the growth of the school districts. The numbers reveal, however, that student enrollment growth has little correlation with the increased spending.
In order to provide a full statistical evaluation, The Golden Hammercompared 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 administrativeefficiency.
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.
Once again, New Caney ISD shines in dollars spent on instruction per student. Nevertheless, New Caney ISD also spends, by far, the most per student on non-instructional expenses.
What is very clear, however, is that school boards can no longer operate under the mantra “it’s for the children” whenever they vote for new spending proposals, especially when those spending proposals emanate from the education bureaucracy administering the community’s public schools.
Both students and teachers suffer from the lack of oversight from the six school district Boards of Trustees, while, of course, the top-heavy administration has enjoyed a nice pay day at the expense “for the children.”