We are so fortunate in Prosper ISD to be blessed with the best! The best does not happen by chance but more by a community coming together to support and applaud the work of public education. I am so thankful to serve in a community that respects teachers and staff and wants the absolute best in every aspect for our students, staff, and community. The 87th Texas Legislature is in session and one of the main areas of focus during this session is public education. The decisions that will be made in Austin, Texas during the session will impact our students, staff, and community.
I would like to take a moment to review the impacts that occurred during the 86th Legislative Session. School finance was the primary issue during that session; as such, a significant number of legislators campaigned on their participation in school finance reform. Additionally, the State of Texas was enjoying a time of significant economic growth and prosperity. As a result, legislators had the luxury of billions of more dollars to spend on priorities, including education and property tax relief, which resulted in 11.6 billion in state dollars, pumped into the public education system and providing property tax relief to local taxpayers. Those expenditures were based on revenue projections that, while conservative, did not consider a global pandemic or an oil price war. This means that while the State Comptroller initially expected the state to have a $5 billion surplus at the end of the biennium, legislators now face a significant shortfall. Sadly, Prosper ISD did not fare well financially during the 86th legislative session due to being a property wealthy school district.
In July, updated revenue estimates from the Comptroller indicated that the state would be facing a $4.5 billion shortfall at the end of the 2020-2021 biennium. Legislators will be facing a session in which they must cover the deficit from the 2020-2021 biennium while attempting to craft a budget for the 2022- 2023 biennium using Comptroller estimates likely to be filled with significantly more uncertainty than in other sessions. It remains to be seen what long-term impacts COVID-19 will have on the Texas economy and how the Comptroller will factor in these impacts when producing the revenue estimate. Prosper ISD is committed to advocating for public education with the Texas Legislature. The 87th Legislative Session will be like none other. It will require school district leaders, community members, and public school supporters to engage in the process to achieve the best outcome for education.
Prosper ISD Legislative Priorities:
• A cornerstone priority of Prosper ISD is local control and flexibility. As a school district we must be able to respond to the differing needs of students, educators, parents, and the communities we serve. Advocate for local discretion with spending to ensure that the needs of our students are met.
• Advocate for an adequate and equitable school finance system that raises per-pupil funding to at least the national average. Texas is currently in the bottom third of the country in state per-pupil funding.
• Oppose any effort to divert local property tax revenues that taxpayers are told will be used to support local public schools for non-public education purposes. Charter schools receive $1,100 more dollars per student in school funding than traditional public schools and are NOT held to the same expectations by the Texas Education Agency.
• Advocate for additional funding for the Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA), Existing Debt Allotment (EDA), and the New Instructional Facilities Allotment (NIFA). Prosper ISD is forced to rely almost entirely on local taxpayers to fund our facilities, and our rapidly growing district will be constructing facilities for years to come. If the state chipped in more to assist with funding those facilities, it would lessen the burden on local taxpayers.
• Oppose additional funding for charter school facilities until adequate state funding is provided to traditional school districts.
We are an influential community that cares deeply about the education of our students. I encourage you to use your voice by voting and reaching out to our Texas Legislators on behalf of Prosper ISD. Now is the time!
Dr. Holly Ferguson
Prosper ISD Superintendent