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Opinion: Who’s Profiting from Taxpayer Spending on Education?

Piggy bank on top of books in a classroom | Image by TierneyMJ/Shutterstock
Piggy bank on top of books in a classroom | Image by TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

Governor Greg Abbott recently sent a message to the thirty-nine Democrats requesting a special session to address education “budget shortfalls.”

“To be clear, there are several reasons why some public schools are facing budget shortfalls,” Gov. Abbott told the Democrats. He cited the end of one-time COVID-related federal funding and decreasing enrollment as significant contributors.

And he added: “Also, to be clear, you make reference to the basic allotment. That is simply misleading. While the basic allotment is $6,160, the average funding per student actually exceeds $12,000.”

That adds up to more than $92.4 billion spent on public education in the last school year, from all sources. The Texas Public Policy Foundation has previously highlighted this issue regarding Dallas area schools, pointing out they’re not actually broke. Instead, they are misspending your tax dollars.

A better question the Democrats might ask is: if teachers and students are not benefiting from all that spending, then who is?

Here’s one example. In the 2022 to 2023 school year, Fort Worth ISD reported spending a combined total of $10,197,289.95 on consultants, legal expenses, vendors, and lobbyists.

Of that amount, $7.4 million was spent on consultants alone, with nearly all of it being spent on just three consulting firms. The largest profiteer of Fort Worth ISD was the Boston Consulting Group ($3,295,000) an East Coast firm that prides itself on their commitment to DEI.

They were followed by Cenergistic LLC ($2,264,773), a consulting firm that focuses on green initiatives, and Big Thought ($525,000), a nonprofit that specializes in equity and social and emotional learning (SEL).

But these are not the only private profiteers of your tax dollars. Other profiteers include groups such as: the taxpayer funded firms Texas Association of School Boards, INC ($36,159), Texas Association of School Administrators ($23,618); private Law firms such as O’Halon, Demerath, & Castillo ($209,501), Walsh, Gallegos, & Trevino ($79,928) and Escamilla & Poneck ($30,000); and many others such as J.O. Agency ($226,159.56) and Empower Schools INC ($140,000).

Similar to Fort Worth ISD, Garland ISD is facing a $4.9 million deficit for the 2024 to 2025 school year. Last school year, Garland ISD spent a total of $3,283,112.80 on consultants, taxpayer-funded lobbyists and other vendors.

Indeed, the district paid five vendors over $1.2 million. These vendors were: Experience Management Institute ($299,999.99), HKS Inc ($281,500), Thompson & Horton LLP ($236,974.92), EMA Engineering & Consulting ($232,600), and Public Consulting Group LLC ($198,000).

Outside of Fort Worth and Garland ISDs, several other school districts around the DFW area have similar trends. The table below shows a summary of district budget deficits, vendor spending, and the percentage of students not performing academically on grade level.

Texas Schools are running large deficits and superintendents are unwilling to take responsibility for their district’s fiscal mismanagement. Private vendors are certainly profiting handsomely from your tax dollars, while our students and teachers are continually told “there’s a not enough money.”

The truth is, there is enough money to invest in our kids, if we’d stop wasting it on the latest “consultant” or “lobbyist” promising a quick fix to our education problems.

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