A public fund that helps pay for textbooks and classroom materials grew by more than 9 percent last fiscal year to $25.5 billion. The Texas Permanent School Fund is the second largest educational endowment in the country, after Harvard University’s, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Will it mean more money for teaching materials in public schools? Technically, it should, but Christy Rome with the Texas Schools Coalition isn’t popping the champagne bottles just yet.
“We hope that it will mean more money for schools, but we won’t know that for certain until we see what that bottom line looks like during the legislative session in 2013,” she says.
Last time state lawmakers gathered in Austin, they cut education funding by more than $5 billion as part of an effort to balance the budget without raising taxes.
Lawmakers also passed Senate Bill 6, which gives school districts the power to buy their own instructional materials, as long as they meet state requirements. But some districts have been reluctant to spend all their textbook money, according to Cliff Avery with the Instructional Materials Coordinators Association of Texas.
“Many school districts are choosing to keep the money from this biennium and have it carry over into the next biennium to make sure they have some cushion to the impacts that the legislature might have in store,” says Avery.
But if districts hold on to their money, it could lead lawmakers to believe they don’t need as much textbook money in the coming biennium, Jennifer Bergland with the Texas Computer Education Association told the Texas Tribune in August.
Over the last two years, the Permanent School Fund provided $1.2 billion to the state’s 1,030 school districts.