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Education News

How Magnet Schools in Houston Could See their Budgets Change

Most magnets would see more money; about one-third would lose money.


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Most magnet schools here in Houston would receive more money under the latest proposal to fund these specialty schools. But about one third of the magnets in the Houston Independent School District would lose money from their magnet budget.

Mark Smith with HISD says right now there’s no set formula to fund magnet schools. So the district wants to distribute its overall magnet budget in a standard way.

“Actually what we’re proposing is to equalize the magnet funding especially within the same theme,” he said. 

So based on its theme, each magnet school would get a certain amount of money for every student.

Take an elementary magnet that focuses on languages. It  would get an extra $100 per student. A medical career high school – like Debakey – would get more than $1,000 per student.

“So that we can say if you’re in a vanguard program or a fine arts program, regardless of where you are in the city, those programs will receive an equitable amount of funding so that those schools can offer a quality program all over the district,” Smith said.

All magnet schools would receive the same basic budget to hire a magnet coordinator.

These changes would be phased in over three years to ease the transition. The district is trying to further soften any budget blow with a proposed increase to the basic funding all schools receive. (It’s also known as the “per-unit allocation.”)

How this impacts individual magnet schools varies a lot.

Some schools would see big increases – like Sterling High. T.H. Rogers which has a vanguard program for gifted and talented students would lose the most: more than $1 million over three years.

That has many parents upset.

Susan Goll, whose daughter started at T.H. Rogers in kindergarten and will be in eighth grade next year, spoke to the board last week on behalf of the highly-ranked campus.

“Do some magnet schools need additional funding? Yes, they do. Does HISD need to compensate its teachers more fully? Absolutely. Yet these funding needs are not going to be met by undermining programs that have been proven to be successful. Punishing excellence is not a wise decision,” said Goll.

Complicating the budget for T.H. Rogers, the campus also serves students with special needs.

Sheleah Reed with HISD says that special ed money will not impacted by the proposal. However, the school has received in the past a special allottment that may be used for resources shared by different student groups.

The board of trustees is expected to make a decision Thursday.


Which Magnets Lose, Gain Money with Funding Change 

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