Officials from Dallas ISD and nearly a dozen other North Texas school districts are advocating for increased state funding for public education with one month left of the legislative session.

The coalition of school districts, which included Richardson and Plano ISDs, met to spotlight the need for increased funding during a press conference at the Dallas ISD administration building May 1. The meeting came as school districts are preparing to develop their fiscal year 2023-24 budgets and state lawmakers are convening in the 88th Texas Legislature to set state funding for public education. Texas will have a $32 billion budget surplus toward the end of the year, and school districts across the state are calling for portions of that surplus to be distributed to public schools.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the budget Texas lawmakers are negotiating is $7 billion short of what public schools need just to cover inflation.

From June 2019 to February 2023, inflation in Texas increased 17%, according to the Consumer Price Index. In 2022, the state’s Legislative Budget Board estimated school funding was at 2014 levels when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, schools have seen fixed costs, such as utilities, insurance and fuel, rise dramatically in the past several years.

“Passing a budget with a $7 billion hole for public schools makes giving teachers—and all support staff from custodians to counselors—a fair raise absolutely impossible,” Elizalde said during the press conference.

Elizalde added that many school districts, including Dallas ISD, are facing teacher shortages and retention issues. About 85% of the district’s budget is allocated toward paying teachers, she said.

In an attempt to tackle the problem of teacher shortages, the Texas House passed two bills April 27 aimed at increasing funding for schools and providing more support for teachers. House Bill 11, by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, would provide additional funding for teacher residency and mentorship programs, which help aspiring and early career teachers. House Bill 100, by Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, would increase the amount of money schools receive from the state and adjust how some funding is determined. Both bills have been sent to the Texas Senate.

Regina Harris, president of the Richardson ISD board of trustees, said fully funding public schools will empower Texas students to succeed academically and prepare them for future success in the state’s workforce.

“Education is the foundation upon which the success of any society is built,” Harris said during the press conference. “It is the key to unlocking the potential of every individual and creating a brighter future for our great state.”

By funding public schools, the state can attract new businesses and industries, which would create more jobs, Harris said.

Elizalde and other officials called on parents and teachers to reach out to their state lawmakers to voice support for increased funding. During the press conference, Elizalde repeatedly stressed that “Texas public schools are in need of immediate rescue” and said immediate action must be taken.

To find your local representative and their contact information, visit the Texas House of Representatives website. Dallas ISD is also distributing this link for parents and teachers to use to send a request to their individual state lawmakers.

Editor's note: This article's headline and photo caption have been updated to clarify that multiple North Texas school districts were involved in the press conference.