The most basic thing to understand about school funding is that every student in the state of Texas has a dollar figure hanging over his or her head. But not every kid is worth the same amount of money in the eyes of state.
Texas gives each student a base amount, $5,140. From there, certain kids get more money added on. Different things are plugged into an equation, like if a child comes from a low-income family, if he or she is an English language learner or is classified as gifted and talented. These classifications all increase the amount assigned to the child.
When a child enrolls at a school, that money then goes into the school. That’s why you may see one school with a bigger budget than other schools in the same district. The higher the school’s enrollment, the more money it gets.
So if a student transfers schools from one year to the next, his or her money follows. When a child leaves a local school district to go to a charter school, the money goes, too.
That’s one reason the Austin Independent School District is facing a budget problem. Families with children are choosing to move to neighboring towns like Round Rock, Pflugerville and Manor. All the money assigned to these kids transfers to the new school district. And even though many people are moving into Austin, they aren’t bringing a lot of school-aged kids with them
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