Local faith leaders and business partners gathered for this week’s Spring ISD Ministerial Alliance luncheon, where Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa shared information about the financial hurdles facing the district and public schools across Texas – challenges that have been exacerbated by ongoing inflation and state funding issues.
Highlighting district transportation costs as an example, Dr. Hinojosa pointed to the stark reality of how inflation has impacted the district. Since 2019, the district has seen an alarming 145% increase in fuel costs, significantly straining the district’s budget. This surge in expenses comes amidst a backdrop of static state funding, with no increase to the basic allotment since 2019.
The financial strain is further compounded by the state’s budget management. Despite sitting on a budget surplus, Texas has yet to release additional funds to public school districts. The legislative sessions, originally slated to conclude in May, have been continually extended, leaving districts like Spring ISD in a state of uncertainty and fiscal strain well into November.
This fiscal dilemma has led to a concerning deficit for Spring ISD. The district currently faces a $25 million shortfall, attributed largely to inadequate state funding and decreased enrollment since the onset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the governor’s promotion of school vouchers, referred to by state leaders as “Education Savings Accounts” or “School Choice,” has sparked a debate. While private schools stand to receive over $10,500 per student under this proposal, public schools like those in Spring ISD are funded at a significantly lower rate of $6,160 per student.
“The collective effort and steadfast dedication of the Spring community remain crucial in navigating these financial and educational hurdles, as well as a renewed dedication of our elected officials to protecting and adequately funding public education,” Dr. Hinojosa said.
Despite daunting financial challenges, Dr. Hinojosa also shared a message of hope. She presented positive data showcasing the growth and achievements of Spring ISD students, staff, and community members. These successes have been realized – even in the face of funding inadequacies, underscoring the district’s commitment to educational excellence.
Adding to the district’s proactive stance, Dr. Hinojosa discussed Spring ISD’s involvement in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The suit aims to prevent the release of this year’s accountability system letter grades. The basis for this legal action stems from the delayed provision of essential information needed for schools to meet the required standards, which was only made available in the fall of this year.
The luncheon concluded with an emphasis on unity and collaboration. Dr. Hinojosa called upon the gathered community leaders and faith leaders, along with business partners, to continue supporting the district in these challenging times. She closed by reminding everyone, “We are Spring and we are unstoppable. Together we will!”