Pearland ISD Superintendent Larry Berger addressed the state of public education in Texas, saying the district is in a difficult situation due to low state funding, teacher shortages and other compounding issues.

Berger gave the speech at a PISD State of the District event March 23, where he highlighted the causes of a prospective budget deficit in the coming school year. He said the district, which spends 85% of its budget on personnel, is running short on spending to cut.

“We can’t make those cuts in the classroom,” Berger said. “It’s a difficult proposition.”

The district faces a $15.1 million deficit going into the next school year and beyond. State legislative actions may address the method that school districts are funded, including increasing the basic per-student allotment or de-emphasizing reliance on property taxes.

The per-student funding allotment from the state is based on average-daily-attendance, or ADA, which is a system that Berger criticized. Texas is one of the six states that uses the ADA system and is 39th in the nation for per-people funding, according to Berger.

Berger said the ADA system allocates about 94% of funding to the district despite the district budgeting and paying for 100% of students and staff at each facility.

“That is millions of dollars we are not receiving through ADA,” he said.

Berger called for a change to enrollment-based funding over the attendance-based system and changes to how mandatory pre-K is funded. He said these topics were discussed with state House and Senate chairs and the Texas Education Agency.

“Not all of this is going to happen, I understand that,” Berger said.

The district and the state continue to face a teacher shortage, with Berger saying that 77% of current teachers in the state have considered leaving their profession. Additionally, he said the district no longer being a “fast-growing” district contributed to plateaued funding from the state.

PISD also faces further financial challenges due to a property value study that assessed the district’s property values outside the margin of error, triggering a challenge to the study’s results from the district. If the property values continue to be assessed outside the error margin, it could result in a loss of $11.2 million in state funding.

The state went into this year’s legislative session with a surplus of $32.7 billion. Berger said he looks forward to seeing how much of the surplus will be invested into public education.

Pearland ISD regular meetings can be streamed on the district’s official YouTube page.