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Tracking the education dollar

The following table is an example of how one state explains to taxpayers how an education dollar is spent (Texas Association of School Boards). This table is a part of Money matters, a guide to school funding.


How an education dollar relates to the student, 2003–2004

Incremental cost

The typical student begins the school day long before the first bell with a bus ride to school —either because she lives too far to walk or because the district has determined that unsafe conditions warrant the provision of a safe ride. She will also ride the bus home.


She arrives to find a building that is clean and well-maintained.


The building is also heated in the winter and cooled in the summer--and the lights work.


Her parents know her school is made safer through district-supported security staff, and that if she is injured or becomes ill, she will be cared for by the school nurse.


She goes to class to find a teacher ready to begin instruction.


While in class, she has access to an instructional aide who supports the teacher in delivering instruction and to district-purchased instructional supplies.


The teacher uses a curriculum that is aligned with state standards and that builds on information the student learned the year before. The teacher has been trained regarding Texas learning standards and effective instructional practices, and has access to staff with instructional expertise who provide support.


Midway through the day, she goes to the cafeteria for lunch.


After lunch, she goes to the library to gather information for a research paper.


After school, she goes by the guidance counselor's office to talk about the process of applying for and paying for college. She is given information about student loan programs, how to prepare for the SAT, and what courses she will need to have taken in order to be prepared for postsecondary education.


Throughout the day, she benefits from services provided by the principal, the assistant principals, and other administrative staff who set the instructional tone for the school as well as make sure that all of the details of running a school are attended to so that students and teachers can focus on learning.


She also benefits from the fact that her school has access to district level staff who ensure that payroll checks to her teachers are written on time, that staff members have access to health insurance, that all of the schools are fully staffed, and that campuses have access to the support structures they need. Information is provided to the school board and to the public in a timely manner, and someone has ensured that the district is complying with a host of state and federal laws and regulations regarding the operation of public schools.


At the end of the school day, she rides the bus back home...unless, of course, she stays to participate in an extra-curricular activity (at which point she may need additional transportation provided by a district-run late bus).




*Total may not equal $1.00 due to rounding.


Source: Moak, Casey & Associates, LLP. (February 2006). Tracking the Texas Education Dollar – 2006 Update, sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards, Texas School Alliance, Texas Association of School Administrators, Equity Center, and Texas Association of School Business Officials. Reprinted with permission from TASB.

These references are part of a guide written by Kathy Checkley, a freelance writer who lives in Austin, Texas. Kathy has over 13 years of experience writing about education issues.

Posted: July 10, 2008

©2008 Center for Public Education

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