Ahead of the 2022-23 school year, Eanes ISD Superintendent Jeff Arnett reported the district was nearly fully staffed, with the exception of a few special education positions and bus drivers. The Eanes Education Foundation funded 55 teaching positions with a $2.75 million donation to the district in May. EEF funds are included in the district’s budget calculations alongside funding from the state and other revenue sources.

“We’re hearing a lot of stories about other districts having great difficulty filling a large volume of positions, but we feel very fortunate, and a lot of hard work has gone into making sure that we are nearly fully staffed as the school year commences,” Arnett said.

EEF is the funding arm of the district, Executive Director Dana Meserole DeLorenzo said. Established in 1991, the foundation was created in response to Senate Bill 351, the state’s initial attempt at equalizing school funding.

When SB 351 was ruled unconstitutional, the Texas Legislature introduced the recapture system in 1993. This program takes excess revenue from wealthier districts and redistributes it to districts unable to meet their operating expenses through local tax collection.The state determines how much property tax revenue districts can keep based on enrollment and attendance. Beyond the amount needed for basic operations, the remainder of taxes collected from homeowners is recaptured by the state. Under recapture, 64% of property taxes collected in EISD go back to the state, Meserole DeLorenzo said.

“What the Eanes Education Foundation does is basically fill the gap between the adequate education the state of Texas believes that we should have, and then the excellent education that our parents feel our children should have,” Meserole DeLorenzo said.

EISD will collect $194.2 million in property tax revenue for the 2022-23 school year, according to district estimates. Of this amount, $124.8 million will be collected by the state for recapture.

As of June, the foundation has collected over $28.5 million to fund more than 576 teachers since 2004, Meserole DeLorenzo said.

The foundation supports the district through donations, corporate sponsorships and events, including the Teacher Fund. It runs from Oct. 1-Nov. 18, along with a Teacher Fun Run 5K on Nov. 5. The nonprofit will also hold its annual gala in February.

“Our community definitely understands our mission and believes in us, what we do and the impact we make on our district,” Meserole DeLorenzo said. “A community is only as strong as the schools in it.”

The state uses a set of formulas to calculate how much funding a school receives per student. The basic allotment per student has been $6,160 since 2019-20, unadjusted for changing local property values or inflation, EISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott said.

The longer the state goes without increasing the basic allotment the more money the state is able to collect in recapture. This is because school operating funds remain unchanged while local property values rise, he said.

Board Member Ellen Balthazar expressed in meetings over the summer that the district has a very expensive educational model that will need to be adjusted if funding from the state is not increased in the next Texas legislative session, which runs from January to May 2023.

The EEF’s funding goals continue to grow alongside increasing recapture payments and the unchanged basic allotment per student. For 2022-23, the nonprofit aims to raise at least $3 million for the district, Meserole DeLorenzo said.

In addition to the $2.75 million for staff salaries, the EEF also contributed an “EEF Board-Donated Gift” of $225,000 to be distributed among all educators in EISD. Funding raised over the $3 million goal will go toward a similar gift to teachers next year, she said.

“I believe this year will be the best year yet because all of our communities are rallying together around our teachers, who just deserve the best,” Meserole DeLorenzo said.