Education News

Houston School Board Passes Budget With Last Minute Addition Worth $14 Million

This week, the board for the Houston Independent School District approved a $1.6 billion dollar budget for next school year. The budget will continue extra tutoring for struggling students and a 2-percent pay increase for employees. It also includes something new.


For months, HISD has been working on the budget for next school year.

The day before the final vote, there was a new addition — worth about $14 million dollars.

This is Superintendent Terry Grier.

“This is a bit different from what you saw the last time we were together last Thursday.”

Grier says he listened to a suggestion to help more kids who are failing state standardized exams.

“We worked over the weekend as a staff. We took a hard look at that.”

What they came up with was giving an extra $14 million dollars to schools where 30 percent or more of the kids had failed the state exam in either reading or math.

The budget was approved with a six to three vote.

One of those “no” came from Board President Anna Eastman.

“We were effectively voting on a budget that would require a 4-cent tax increase and that was a departure from the way we traditionally fund schools.”

Traditionally the Houston school district gives schools money based on how many students they have.

Schools may get more money if they fall into other categories, like magnets or small schools.

Eastman says she’s concerned with the latest way to give certain schools extra money.

“We were considering a new method of funding allocations to schools that did not take into account the fact that we have lots of kids who are struggling at every single one of our schools.”

Eastman and other trustees say it’s hard to give schools all the money they need because the Texas Legislature cut the state education budget two years ago and hasn’t restored all of the cuts.

Trustee Harvin Moore says the final proposal tries to fill in the gap.

“The proposal as it ended up was to distribute that money to the schools that needed it the most, in terms of needing to spend money on tutoring in order to get more kids passing the test.”

The final budget sets the stage for the tax rate.

The HISD board will decide that in October. Taxpayers could see their property tax rate go up two cents — or more.


Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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